[iDC] Introduction: The Internet as Playground and Factory

Kate Eichhorn eichhorc at newschool.edu
Mon Jun 8 14:06:27 UTC 2009

Dear all,
My name is Kate Eichhorn. I'm an Assistant Professor in the Media and
Culture Department at The New School and Adjunct Professor of Communication
and Culture at York University.
My research focuses on book and media history and contemporary innovative
writing. I¹m currently completing a book on archival genres, which include
everything from Renaissance commonplace books to various contemporary
platforms. I¹m interested in how archival practices have and continue to
structure compositional practices, as well as how they provide a way to
think about some of the continuities linking communication practices from
the incunabula to the present. Understanding the archive as a practice of
everyday life, most of this book focuses on texts and objects made by
anonymous or at least unknown creators (fortunately, this means that I can
bid for many of my research materials on eBay and as I¹ve discovered, I¹m
not the only researcher doing this).

It¹s worth noting here that most of the texts I write about, including those
from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, were user generated and the
product of very complex relationships with commercial printers and news
services. Commonplace books and other encyclopedic forms in the 16th century
would regularly go through multiple editions, often with substantial
additions and corrections provided to printers by readers/users. Reflecting
on how readers/users were directly involved in generating content for
printed commonplace books, encyclopedias, scrapbooks etc. in previous eras
also seems essential to understanding ³interaction labor² in the present. Of
course, labor and capital were understood along completely different lines
in the 16th century so one needs to avoid any simplistic analogues here, but
I do think that print culture¹s collaborative genres are relevant to this
discussion. I¹d argue that interaction labor is not new but simply happening
on a different scale in our current economy.

For this conference, I¹ll be present as a curator.  I¹m proposing to
organize a reading/performance/panel with three or four contemporary writers
who are using commercial platforms, such as Facebook, SL, Google and Amazon,
in their creative practices. I know many poets in the avant-garde community
who work with these platforms, but Trebor and I were wondering whether any
poets or conceptual fiction writers are using Yelp, eBay or Wiki? I¹ve put
the word out on the poetics list but if anyone here has interesting examples
of writers deploying these platforms to produce digital or print-based
works, I¹d love to hear about them.
Look forward to more here.

Kate Eichhorn 
Assistant Professor
Culture and Media
The New School
65 W. 11th St., New York, NY, 10011
eichhorc at newschool.edu


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