[iDC] "How (bravely) the mammet twitters!”

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Thu Jun 18 02:04:22 UTC 2009

On 16-Jun-09, at 12:27 PM, Ulises Mejias wrote:
> In the new economics of 'mammet-generated content,' the users are  
> mindless, sub-human.
> They are too small to count except in the aggregate. They performs  
> mindless repetitive tasks;
> they twitter. But they are also dangerous. There is a potential  
> threat living inside these
> Mechanical Turks, a dwarf genius. They are the masses who could  
> potentially discover --if
> sociable media wasn't so much darn fun!-- that of all possible  
> configurations, the network is
> being actualized as a machine for generating more, not less,  
> inequality. In this economy, there
> is no difference between toil and play, and that's not accidental.  
> The new mammet must be
> kept engaged in endless twittering--otherwise, it might go jihadi  
> all over the network.
> -Ulises Mejias

A couple of days ago I started writing an atypically benign response  
to the above, atypical as I have on this listserv been pretty  
hardcore in the past in challenging what I see as the extreme one- 
sidedness of the argument that Ulises so effectively articulates  
here, but the extraordinary events in Iran have been so distracting  
that I only now find myself with a few minutes to continue writing,  
and as I do so I see that these current events constitute a far more  
compelling real-world rejection of the mammet metaphor than anything  
I could have written. For lo, here we have the mammet rising up and  
almost literally 'going jihadi all over the network' but without  
leaving the Mechanical Turk! It is in fact the golem with a flower,  
the Mechanical Turk dancing for peace.

Is it not so?

How is it that these once 'mindless sub-humans' have ridden the back  
of Twitter to rise up and smite their oppressors? Does this not make  
a mockery of experts in theoretical revolution, who have insisted  
that capitalist networks are inherently anti-revolutionary,  
inherently anti-human, anti-inspiration? Not that cyberwarfare can't  
be waged from both sides. Or course it can.  But these mammets  
bravely tweeting understand that human agency lies within human  
actors, and that 'the system' is never monolothic. That freedom is  
not necessarily abdicated by participating in a techno-social-network  
within a capitalist structure, especially when participation consists  
of telling a meaningful story to real human ears. In fact, it is  
enhanced, regardless of the ads inserted nearby.

So may they tweet on in Iran, and come to enjoy the fruits of their  
user-generated revolt, even as Twitter gains value and somewhere  
stockbrokers giggle in anticipation of its IPO.

John Sobol

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