[iDC] A lot of threads on labor and the Net.

patrick lichty voyd at voyd.com
Tue Jun 16 03:02:40 UTC 2009

Hello all, 

As Flusser severely challenged my formal style of writing a few years ago,
I'll likely be speaking in a lively or anecdotal/episodic voice this time


Capital/Labor/Net 2.0: 

This has been a huge problem for me.  Either I hae missed this conversation,
but I have always felt that Web 2.0 has been about the most brilliant shell
game of all.  Getting the proletariat to pay the provider to work for them.
The capitalist builds the scaffold for the users, like so many polyps to
build their content-reef-attention ecology, from which the capitalist reaps
benefits and then (as in the case of Facebook) double reaps by selling cute
pets to fight with, gifts, etc.  


This conceit fo empowerment as expropriation is especially true in Second
Life, ( I apologize, but it has been my primary locus of research these past
3 years). "It's your world" they say, while only hinting at the fact that to
build that world that they then charge from, one has to pay to have
land-space, and then if someone is talented, they only then to not have to
pay for the house that they paid for, etc etc etc.  Of course, the value is
the extancy of community, that has also bought the Ponzi scheme; not only of
SL, but of the larger framework of Web 2.0.


Of course, one can cite the building of worlds, communities as the
affirmative version of Wark's 3rd Nature of the Hacker shooting forth from
the vector of the industrialist, but without getting into the other
discussion on the TAZ, I would like to wonder about the subversive aspect of
the 3rd order ob abstraction.  For example, Virtual worlds tend towards the
hunky, sexy avatars, and the gleaming cyberbungalow, but I love a group
called the Hobos.  These are virtual worlders that exercise considerable
craft to create a parallel "free" FLOSS economy, and to exert high
craftsmanship to create favelas and shantytowns that cause their neighbors
to put up huge murals of meadows.  This, to me, is the dialectical fruit of
human vs. technocratic utopia.


I love this idea of monolithic frontal attention, because It has ceased to
exist in my classroom.  It's that I think that unless we act as strict
parents, the ontology of US students, especially in media arts, is so
multithreaded/multimodal that one has to at least acknowledge it, if not
directly address it.  This is where I was going in my 98 essay "Speaking the
Multimedia Culture", but this would eb much more thoroughly "multi".


This also reminds me of some of Trebor's comments on Constant Partial
Attention Deficit.  Perhaps this is not as much CPAD as a necessary modality
to the time (i.e. a rhizomatic discursive structure that conflicts against
the hegemonic monoattentional model).  As I think about D&G's rhizomatic
structure as template for resistance, I find that my young have
wholeheartedly accepted it, but simultaneously accept the oversight of the
corporation-provider while questioning the "expert" in terms of that they
think they should have, which then comes from the same rhizomatic media
structure they espouse.  Perhaps that's a bit circular, and I may be
drifting from preparing to go to the Arctic.



One thing I loathe is the axiom "at least you love what you do".  This is
the dream, isn't it?  That we can deliriously work 24/7 with nary a care.
And, in the aforementioned models, we do it and pay the entrepreneur for
doing it for them just for the privilege of inclusion, or for novelty (my
thought on MTurk), or even for the illusion/hope of profit.  The last is the
"perpetual spec" model where the practitioner is strung along in hopes of a
future payoff.  Again, this is evident in SL, where people are told that if
they spend the money, put up the store, etc. whey will real great benefits,
while doing something they love.  Taylorist entertainment seems to be the
axiom of the day, cloaked in the rhetoric of empowerment and inclusion.  I
do it; I think it's revolting, but I do it nonetheless.


What a great discussion.  I apologize for being shorter than usual; time for
bed, and I just finished a piece for Version as well.




Patrick Lichty

- Interactive Arts & Media
  Columbia College, Chicago

- Editor-In-Chief

  Intelligent Agent Magazine


225 288 5813

FAX 312 344-8021


 <mailto:voyd at voyd.com> voyd at voyd.com


"It is better to die on your feet 
than to live on your knees." 


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