[iDC] Introduction re: "The Internet as Playground and Factory"

Howard Rheingold howard at rheingold.com
Fri Jun 5 21:11:26 UTC 2009

Trebor asked me to introduce myself in regard to his post and the  
conference on "The Internet as Playground and Factory"

I've written "Tools for Thought," "The Virtual Community," and "Smart  
Mobs." Two of those books are online at http://www.rheingold.com . I  
teach "Social Media" and Berkeley and Stanford and "Digital  
Journalism" at Stanford.

I agree with much of what you say, Trebor, but I would only add that   
I'm entirely delighted to let Yahoo stockholders benefit from flickr.  
It's not only a great service for sharing my own images, but a place  
where I can find Creative-Commons licensed images to use in  
presentations and videos. Maybe that at the same time we look closely  
at the way commercial interests have colonized public behavior, we  
ought to look at the way profit motives have made available useful  
public goods. May Yahoo and Google live long and prosper as long as I  
can view and publish via Flickr and YouTube. And if this means that  
I've blurred the line between my recreation and my labor, I have to  
testify that even after reflection I don't mind it at all. It's  
pleasurable, in fact. And I'm equally delighted that Google gives away  
search to attract attention, some of which Google sells to  
advertisers. I remember that when I first got online with a modem, the  
cost of accessing skimpy information online via Lexis/Nexis and other  
paid data services was way beyond my means. Now I get answers for any  
question in seconds. How many times a day were  YOU exploited by  
searching for something without paying a charge for the service?  
Informed consent seems to me to be crucial -- I choose to be  
exploited, if exploitation is how you want to see my uploading and  
tagging my photographs and videos. More people ought to reflect on who  
is profiting from their online activity, and it seems entirely  
reasonable to me that many would decide not to be exploited. I would  
never argue that people should refrain from witholding their labor, if  
that's what they want to do. Otherwise, I'm all for asking all the  
questions Trebor proposes, which is why I assign students to read  
"What the MySpace generation needs to know about working for free."

Howard Rheingold howard at rheingold.com http://twitter.com/hrheingold
http://www.rheingold.com  http://www.smartmobs.com
what it is ---> is --->up to us

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