[iDC] the false Aufhebung of social media [was: Social Production and the Labor Theory of Value]

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 8 09:05:33 UTC 2009

 Hi Armin,

thanks for this insightful point around the power of code and how it is located in the infrastructures.

I agree with the analysis, but I have a problem with the solution if it is a univocal strategy.

Can we do any kind of social change without an audience, and where is that audience located. I imagine there was a similar split in the labour movement, between those that wanted to create independent economic infrastructures, and those that felt the struggle should be located at the point where the workers where working, i.e. the corporate factories. Could any serious victory or progress have been obtained by using only the first? It is doubtful. In the end, the labour movement choose the second option and got incorporated in the system it initially  fought. What about strategies that try to hold both integrally together, i.e. acting in solidarity with users when faced with enclosures, while at the same time working on independent infrastructures.

This also solves the issue of the audience. When I post on identica, I'm only reaching a few people already convinced, when I use Twitter, I can reach a significane primary and a potentially huge secondary audience. Having an integrated strategy would unite the benefits of both options,

(I hope you don't mind I'm reposting your contribution on the 12th on the p2p blog)


----- Original Message ----
> From: Armin Medosch <armin at easynet.co.uk>
> To: idc <idc at mailman.thing.net>; Brian Holmes <brian.holmes at aliceadsl.fr>
> Sent: Sat, October 31, 2009 2:59:46 PM
> Subject: Re: [iDC] the false Aufhebung of social media [was: Social Production and the Labor Theory of Value]
> hi all
> I would just like two add a couple of points with relation to 'social
> production' which maybe shift the discussion on to slightly different
> terrain, away from the labor theory of value. 
> In media theory much has been made of the one-sided and centralised
> broadcast structure of television and radio. the topology of the
> broadcast system, centralised, one-to-many, one-way, has been compared
> unfavourable to the net, which is a many-to-many structure, but also
> one-to-many and many-to-one, it is, in terms of a topology, a highly
> distributed or mesh network. So the net has been hailed as finally
> making good on the promise of participatory media usage. What so called
> social media do is to re-introduce a centralised structure through the
> backdoor. While the communication of the users is 'participatory' and
> many-to-many, and so on and so forth, this is organised via a
> centralised platform, venture capital funded, corporately owned. Thus,
> while social media bear the promise of making good on the emancipatory
> power of networked communication, in fact they re-introduce the
> producer-consumer divide on another layer, that of host/user. they
> perform a false aufhebung of the broadcast paradigm. Therefore I think
> the term prosumer is misleading and not very useful. while the users do
> produce something, there is nothing 'pro' as in professional in it. 
> This leads to a second point. The conflict between labour and capital
> has played itself out via mechanization and rationalization, scientific
> management and its refinement, such as the scientific management of
> office work, the proletarisation of wrongly called 'white collar work',
> the replacement of human labour by machines in both the factory and the
> office, etc. What this entailed was an extraction of knowledge from the
> skilled artisan, the craftsman, the high level clerk, the analyst, etc.,
> and its formalisation into an automated process, whereby this
> abstraction decidedly shifts the balance of power towards management.
> Now what happened with the transition from Web 1.0 to 2.0 is a very
> similar process. Remember the static homepage in html? You needed to be
> able to code a bit, actually for many non-geeks it was probably the
> first satisfactory coding experience ever. You needed to set the links
> yourself and check the backlinks. Now a lot of that is being done by
> automated systems. The linking knowledge of freely acting networked
> subjects has been turned into a system that suggests who you link with
> and that established many relationships involuntarily. It is usually
> more work getting rid of this than to have it done for you. Therefore
> Web 2.0 in many ways is actually a dumbing down of people, a deskilling
> similar to what has happened in industry over the past 200 years. 
> Wanted to stay short and precise, but need to add, social media is a
> misnomer. What social media would be are systems that are collectively
> owned and maintained by their users, that are built and developed
> according to their needs and not according to the needs of advertisers
> and sinister powers who are syphoning off the knowledge generated about
> social relationships in secret data mining and social network analysis
> processes. 
> So there is a solution, one which I continue to advocate: lets get back
> to creating our own systems, lets use free and open source software for
> server infrastructures and lets socialise via a decentralised landscape
> of smaller and bigger hubs that are independently organised, rather than
> feeding the machine ...
> Did anybody notice, have not mentioned Marx a single time. Love reading
> Marx but agree with Brian we need to come to our own conclusions in our
> own times, maybe informed by some of the key methodological decisions
> that Marx made but not by any mechanical application of them
> best
> armin
> -- 
> thenextlayer software, art, politics http://www.thenextlayer.org
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