[iDC] Michael Jackson and the death of macrofame

Julian Kücklich julian at kuecklich.de
Fri Jun 26 07:36:41 UTC 2009

Hi all,

Trebor asked me to write "a succinct, one paragraph definition of playbour."
Okay, here goes:

If we assume that play is distinct from "ordinary life" (Huizinga), and that
it constitutes an "occasion of pure waste" (Caillois), then playbour is the
re-entry of ordinary life into play, with a concomitant valorization of play
activities. Insofar as life (bios) is always productive, and be it only in
the sense that it produces waste, the extraction of value from play can be
seen as a form of waste management; and insofar as play can be seen as a
waste of time, the logic of playbour demands that time be wasted
efficiently. In this sense we could also call playbour the Taylorization of
leisure. Like other forms of affective or immaterial labour, playbour is not
productive in the sense of resulting in a product, but it is the process
itself that generates value. The means of production are the players
themselves, but insofar as they only exist within play environments by
virtue of their representations, and their representations are usually owned
by the providers of these environments, the players cannot be said to be
fully in control of these means. Playbour is suffused with an ideology of
play, which effectively masks labour as play, and disguises the process of
self-expropriation as self-expression. However, exploitation and
empowerment, subjectification and objectification, wastefulness and
efficiency coexist in the ambiguous "third space" of playbour, where these
binary oppositions break down, and thus open up new possibilities of

Hmm, maybe not so succinct, but it'll have to do for now. I'll try to
condense it to 140 characters and tweet it later.

Julian aka @cucchiaio

2009/6/25 Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net>

> Hi Julian,
> Great, could you re-join the discussion with a succinct, one paragraph
> definition of playbour
> and a very short argumentation of why neither play nor labor easily fit the
> situation?
> Cheers,
> Trebor
> ----
> Written tersely, typed imperfectly, and then sent from my phone
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