[iDC] Digital Labour: thoughts on the conference theme
mdeuze at indiana.edu
Sun Oct 11 15:20:53 UTC 2009
what is the free produsing/prosuming/co-creating/reproducing/remixing
work people do online and offline?
ultimately, that is what seems at the heart of the conference and much
of the excellent debate on this list.
it seems to be a lot of things: fun, exploited/exploitative,
capitalist, work, labor, play, private, public.
it is an example of human agency as well as a product of structural
constraints. it is tactical as well as strategic (or can be).
and even if all of it is to some extent (re-)appropriated by
capitalism, does this necessarily mean capitalism is  a coherent,
uniform, one-dimensional apparatus, and  successful in its
what to make of new media workers who are effectively exploited under
the guise of the "work as play" doctrine, but sometimes also enjoy some
of the best labor perks one can think of, just not those we
traditionally associate with labor?
to be honest, i'm not sure (which is why i should attend the
conference, but unfortunately, i cannot).
what i do think, is that our understanding of all these amazing issues
might progress most by working with, talking about, and respectfully
observing what (individual and small groups of) people actually do - in
"work as play" situations, when online, as they publicly break up on
Facebook or MeinVZ. if we understand what this means to the people
involved, we may get better at determining what it means for society as
a whole (rather than the other way around, which point of view often
pervades academic analysis).
Christian, in his work (of which i am a huge fan), passionately
advocates the need for a co-operative, grassroots, participatory
society - both in theory and praxis. perhaps capitalism is just as much
a product of that view of society as it is its oppressor, and ICTs are
just the vehicle for both of these (and numerous other) expressions of
in my own work on the "media life" perspective (see some links below
FYI), i try to recognize that the strangely disorienting experience of
reality we all share (especially those of us deeply immersed in media,
which means, increasingly, all of us) has productive potential. if
"society" can be seen as constituted through communication, what
communication would make for a different/better/open/equitable society?
and would such a society be a giant Silent Disco (where we all dance
and have fun, but only listen to and experience our own version of
reality)? and is that a bad thing?
with apologies for the long post,
Media Life presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/mdeuze/media-life-2009
Media Life working paper: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/3764
Department of Telecommunications
Journalism and New Media
E-mail: mdeuze at indiana.edu
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