[iDC] Privacy and the Institutionalization of Labor

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 1 12:12:45 UTC 2009

Dear Trebor,

Sorry for the delay to due travel. I'm no longer sure what the commentary refers to, but in general, I'd like to acknowledge your points.

The issue is that I do not believe that at this conjuncture, sharing communities can sustain their own platforms, just as workers had to work in factories.

That leaves the factory, in this case, the social media, as a terrain of struggle.

My point of view is that goal oriented ethical communities, especially those that favour peer production or emancipatory goals, utilize these tools for their own benefit, and fight for the optimal conditions for doing so, just as they may have done with mass media and print, which surely the labour movement would not have left alone, and did not leave alone.

So the second important aspect is that these are also 'audiences', not just for them, but for 'us'. This is my problem with some FLOSS alternatives. If you are creating and defending and spreading ideas, do you prefer to communicate with a small community of righteous similars, or rather engage with the broad mass. I always prefer the latter.

Finally, when all is said and done, and the evil netarchical capitalists decried and explained, we are left with an important social fact: we can now, and we could not before, express ourselves and share ourselves in multimedial form.

Sorry, but I cannot believe this is a negative social fact, despite the constraints it comes with.

I say we have to work on and defend the autonomous practices of individuals and collectives, to the degree we can, with the world we have been given.


----- Original Message ----
> From: Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net>
> To: "idc at mailman.thing.net" <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 11:58:13 PM
> Subject: [iDC] Privacy and the Institutionalization of Labor
> Hi Michael, 
> Thanks for your post. In my short response below I am only hinting at a few
> issues, which do require a much longer discussion.
> How do you account for the institutionalization of interaction labor?
> I am comparing social networking services to religious sects, which are
> extremely easy to join and exceptionally hard to leave. It's Hotel
> California all over again, "such a lovely place..."
> Facebook Connect increases the flow of personal information while
> simultaneously reinforcing corporate monocultures through guided bus tours
> (and hey, you can even take your friends with you). http://is.gd/18qam
> MZ's treasure trove does not move a bit; it still sits safely on the lawn of
> the walled garden. 
> Maurizio Lazzarato writes that capital is obliged in a life-and-death
> necessity for the capitalist not to Œredistribute¹ the power that the new
> quality of labor and organization imply.
> http://www.generation-online.org/c/fcimmateriallabour3.htm
> The "power" of organization is about people who continue their presence, who
> keep on sharing and managing their relationships on "social utilities" like
> Facebook. While you can take a bus ride to CNN or Citysearch --with Facebook
> Connect-- you cannot export your videos, friend list, conversations, photos.
> It's a spider web of profit.
> Remember, in 2008 when Facebook hired Republican Ted Ullyot who used to be
> chief of staff to former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as their
> General Counsel. I talked to many people who wanted to leave Facebook at
> that point but they soon realized that the price was hefty.
> Perhaps some of you have read James Grimmelmann's Facebook and the Social
> Dynamics of Privacy where he describes user demands for ³ownership² of
> ³their² information as a trap. He warns that privacy is contextual and that
> it'd be risky if user A would be allowed to take the information in user B's
> profile with her when leaving Facebook for another service. James is right
> but issues of this sort could be addressed through complex permission
> processes: User A would have to sign off on user B taking a specific set of
> A's data with them. The technical granularities matter and I think that data
> portability is worth fighting for.
> I am on board with your third point but I only partially agree with your
> second finding: "Allowing user control over their information flows is
> counter to profit maximization." Services like Facebook Connect give people
> limited control over their information flows (i.e., you can decide to make
> your newsfeed available to your contacts on Citysearch). There is no option
> to *export* your photos or notes. Users have no say in where their
> information can flow (i.e., FB lets you only connect to selected sites) and
> most importantly this limited mobility of informational flows merely serves
> to reinforce the market dominance. Allowing users limited control over their
> informational flows reinforces profits. It's such a lovely place, such a
> lovely place, and you can check out at any time but you can never leave...
> _______________________________________________
> iDC -- mailing list of the Institute for Distributed Creativity 
> (distributedcreativity.org)
> iDC at mailman.thing.net
> https://mailman.thing.net/mailman/listinfo/idc
> List Archive:
> http://mailman.thing.net/pipermail/idc/
> iDC Photo Stream:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/idcnetwork/
> RSS feed:
> http://rss.gmane.org/gmane.culture.media.idc
> iDC Chat on Facebook:
> http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2457237647
> Share relevant URLs on Del.icio.us by adding the tag iDCref


More information about the iDC mailing list