[iDC] The Internet as Playground and Factory - ACT I

Brian Holmes brian.holmes at aliceadsl.fr
Fri Jun 19 22:26:10 UTC 2009

Trebor Scholz asked:

 > What would you add?

Well, if that was Act I, then Act II would be interesting!

This has been the most stimulating list-discussion I've been 
involved in for years. Maybe because of the orientation to a 
future event, the range of specifically invited contributors 
and the general anarchy of an open discussion, at a time 
when things are happening fast in the world. The string of 
snippets from our exchanges shows a focus on the production 
of value, a set of unresolved questions about exploitation, 
a debate over whether ideology critique has anything left to 
say, and a concern, no longer over whether social media can 
be a political force - that question has been answered by 
the daily news - but how, in which directions, and I'd add 
along with Ulises, what about here? (Here being wherever 
each of us lives.) Among many many others we are certainly 
left with Tiziana's question, or I am anyway:

"Is it possible to 'relativize' the notion of labor without 
succumbing to the idea that we are all 'free' to produce, 
share and contribute, and hence all is fine with the 
Internet economy which in this way becomes an economic Eden 
separated from the rest?"

And I'm also left with Christina's observation:

"Writing  is an enterprise leading to a  messed up, 
incomplete, partial, almost-actualized piece of work. 
Getting at some kind of logic, arguing back to premises, in 
this case "the place of mutual donation " (Aliette). We can 
never get it 'right' but the mutual editing is fantastic, 

For Act II, one approach would be to let it sink in a 
little, then try a more sustained confrontation with the 
work (and not just the posts) of somebody, or a couple 
people, as a way to go more deeply and precisely into 
things. I guess that's what I will do. Try to read 
somebody's book, or check out their art or their programming 
or their activist practice, and see if it's possible to 
start a debate or a collaboration or a longer and more 
sustained conversation. What I recall from the Free 
Cooperation conference -- along with the many friendships 
that started right there -- is a fascinating set of 
experiments with the forms of presentation, the way 
possibilities were stated in gestures as well as words. The 
shape of a debate is rarely chosen by the participants, but 
that's one of the things this particular event allows us to 
do. The idea of mutual editing brings back experimental 
echoes from other times, intriguing.

So thanks to all for the ideas!


> ===================================
> Brian Holmes:
> Our experience of the Internet itself may in some way actually hide what's
> going on. 
> http://is.gd/12Plv
> Christian Fuchs:
> [T]he social relation between Internet companies and users is one of
> fundamental inequality that is structured by class power.
> http://is.gd/13pKB
> Trebor Scholz:
> Class? 
> BH:
> Why do we _tolerate_ being included in this networked society?
> http://is.gd/12Plv
> Jodi Dean:
> We are captured because we enjoy.
> http://is.gd/12ReH
> TS:
> Only the rich and powerful can escape the participation imperative; refusal
> is futile and irresponsible. Education!
> Jonathan Beller:
> The only way out, short of complete expropriation of the expropriators, a
> radical redistribution of wealth and complete overhaul of the human network
> (whatever that would look like), is to drop out completely, that is, for all
> practical purposes, to cease to exist, to cease to speak, write or be
> written as the discourse of the spectacle. (Beller 295)
> JB:
> In other words, the fight is also here and now. We are being called by the
> o/re-pressed that lies both within and without "us."
> http://is.gd/11AMO
> Michel Bauwens:
> Beyond what a radical minority may wish, there are constraints of 'realism'
> in what can be achieved and expected http://is.gd/12UJa
> BH:
> Those of us who like dancing in the face of cops and speaking pie to power
> are not exactly averse to a little humor!
> http://is.gd/12Plv
> Gabriella Coleman:
> Piracy! 
> http://is.gd/16kB6
> Pat Kane:
> Play!
> http://is.gd/16lpU
> Ellen Goodman:
> Discussions about ... noncommercial production and amateur/citizen
> participation ... are central to ... public media reform.
> http://is.gd/16lbv 
> Mark Zuckerberg (not on the iDC List yet):
> The next hundred years will be different for advertising, and it starts
> today.
> http://is.gd/16jHZ
> BH:
> [MTURKŠ] isn't this just the everyday experience of the consumer in the
> networked economy of neoliberal globalization?
> http://is.gd/12Plv
> TS:
> The heart of digital economy is not about waged micro-labor; the future of
> value is unpaid and invisible social participation.
> Tiziana Terranova:
> If the users' activity [in the] web economy is misrepresented as labor, what
> would be a better way to describe it?
> http://is.gd/12tMl 
> Howard Rheingold:
> 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.
> http://is.gd/16jR3
> Frank Pasquale:
> Some say that platforms like Google and Facebook were always inevitable, and
> those companies just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
> http://is.gd/12qgw
> BH:
> Obviously I'm not convinced by the emancipatory possibilities of
> really-existing corporate social media.
> http://is.gd/12Plv
> HR:
> How many times a day were YOU exploited by searching for something without
> paying a charge for the service?
> http://is.gd/16jR3
> BH:
> Some of us look only at the web itself, while others look at the whole
> tissue of networked society.
> Not only exploitation is an issue, but also an ideology that promotes
> conformity, that makes dis-identification and dissent extremely rare.
> http://is.gd/12Plv 
> Ulises Mejias:
> We need to question how network processes normalize monocultures.
> http://is.gd/12ukg
> Martin Lucas:
> It is, and it will continue to be, difficult to make overriding judgments of
> internet-based communications technologies as either "machines for
> generating inequality" or as "tools for empowerment."
> http://is.gd/16kx7
> --to be continued
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