[iDC] some thoughts on digital labor and populations

jeremy hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Mon Jun 15 15:35:44 UTC 2009

>> there has to the best of my knowledge been a transnational elite  
>> class capable
>> of the actions you indicate for a very long time.
> before the internet, only members of multinationals had this  
> capability, through private networks, but that possibility has now  
> been widely extended, though you could argue that it is still an  
> elite .., but that isn't necessarily pejorative

Well here I'm not sure.  In the 20's with the telegraph, and new  
travel.  In Ancient greece we could think of what aristotle called  
'tribes' being forms of 'corporation' that acted much the same way,  
coordinating across expanses with a combination of protocols and  
communication.  here protocol means more of, in case of x, we will  
always do y'  I'm pretty sure we can demonstrate cross-national  
coordinated activities, economic and not, before the internet, using  
whatever communication systems they had.  There are of course a myriad  
of technologies which aid this through history, from protocols,  
standing orders, to architectures and organizations, roads, ships,  
telegraph, etc. etc.  I think we have to be careful here and skeptical  
in general when we claim that there is a 'novel' process or structure  
at play here.  There are certainly elements of novelty in the  
internet, but I suspect the fundamental human processes aren't  
changing that much.  I could be wrong of course.

The case i originally was going to talk about here was trade families  
in Doge era Venice.  They managed a great deal of coordination without  
the intarwebs :)  including managing chains of production that yielded  
products.   Granted, we are always talking about elites.  The question  
i've pointed to before is... Why are we we talking about the elites?   
are there other elites?

>>> How do we increase and protect that autonomy in the face of the  
>>> integration of
>> those practices in new adapted forms of capitalism, or even use  
>> them to go
>> beyond those limits.
>> Why do we want to?  perhaps autonomy is just an ideological  
>> construct developed
>> from the individualism of modernity.  I'd suspect that 'autonomous  
>> workers' are
>> ideal for capital, and we can see this in recent debates about  
>> mobility of
>> workforces.  Why is it that governments want to create mobile  
>> autonomous
>> workforces?  It would seem in the digital age that people could on  
>> the other
>> hand work from where they want to live and telecommute to where  
>> there labor is
>> needed?
> I'm interested only in the autonomy which attempts to go beyond  
> capital.

The question is .. can it?  Camatte says it cannot.  It really will  
depend on how you extend the idea of autonomy through the conceptual  
field.   I tend to think that you do not really get autonomy outside  
of capital in the contemporary age.   Cognitive capitalism is nearly  
pervasive, and you can find people that will and do perform acts of  
commensuration and valuation across all norms.
>>> Alternatively, we focus on the recuperation practices and decide  
>>> that the
>> 'adversary' has already won, and can return to our comfortable jobs  
>> of being
>> paid to be critical, or just leave all those capabilities to others.
>> I'm not paid to be critical.
> sorry, I assumed you were an academic from your edu address <g>

sure, that doesn't mean i'm paid to be critical.   not everyone takes  
the critical standpoint.  I generally do, but I'd be doing this sort  
of intellectual labor, pay or not, it is more of a way of being in the  
world.   I'm not paid to be critical though.  I'm critical without  
pay, and when i am paid, it is almost always for some other set of  
skills, usually technical skills, teaching skills, research skills, etc.

>> yes, but change for what.  Andrew Carnegie funded hundreds of  
>> libraries, what
>> was his goal in that?  It was to benefit mankind, much along the  
>> way that a
>> mobile workforce benefits mankind.  Education does help, but here  
>> we have the
>> issue of... 'what education','whose education'.
> absolutely
>  orally transmitted culture.
>> in any case, there is usually a bit of bias in the historical ideas  
>> of literacy
>> and education....  They are not usually found to be tools that  
>> serve autonomy in
>> any necessary way...  The usually do benefit people though (at  
>> least to my
>> enlightenment ideals mindset). They could..., but here i find the  
>> story of the
>> term 'literacy' to be somewhat informative, but that i think is a  
>> huge debate.
> would you prefer then to restrict literacy to an elite?

no, i would just admit that the state of being literate is not what we  
should aim for, for all people.  We should aim significantly higher.   
Literacy serves a very clear purpose in labour systems.  My goal is to  
move students beyond being literate to more of a 'culture of learning'  
where they will just keep learning, which they do in many ways  
otherwise, but the goal is get people to that level, where they will  
move beyond literacy and self-educate, etc.   Though.. that does not  
always work for a wide variety of reasons.

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