[iDC] Why labor?

Fred Benenson fcb at fredbenenson.com
Fri Oct 30 20:47:18 UTC 2009

(apologies for the duplicate post, the original didn't seem to go through)

.. I'm glad to see Kickstarter brought up in this context, as I used it to
pay forward the costs of my Amazon Mechanical Turk project, which I'll be
speaking a bit about at the conference.

I think KS has a lot of potential to help fund projects that otherwise
wouldn't be supported by current markets or demand for culture. Furthermore,
it can insulate creators from the kind of risks they would have to take
(see: the independent filmmaker losing money on her works).

But the most compelling part about the platform, from my perspective as
someone who has been active in copyright reform for almost a decade, is that
it offers a business model for creators that doesn't depend on exploiting
scarcity of copies. This was the original goal of the street performer
protocol, but has ramifications outside entertainment when vrtualized.
Ideally we will see more creators turning to distributed patronage and
liberating the works they're creating (and whose costs of creation are


~ ~ ~
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On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 2:13 PM, Christopher Kelty <ckelty at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 8:20 AM, Aymar Jean <ajean at asc.upenn.edu> wrote:
> > Why labor? They work as an investment to obtain capital after production.
> So an independent filmmaker invests hours of his and his friends time,
> making zero or losing money, to get the attention of traditional media
> industries, have his/her series picked up or bought by an advertiser or
> network website (Crackle, Babelgum, etc.), or obtain enough of a fan base to
> support further creation (through YouTube ad deals or PayPal benefactors).
> Vloggers hope to become one of YouTube's top "partners" and make money off
> their videos, or they hope their online presence will lead to gigs, or fame,
> elsewhere. Some of these content producers are successful; the vast majority
> are not.
> >
> thanks for pointing this out. A variation on this issue is the
> "democratization of venture capital raising" represented by sites such
> as kickstarter.com.  Most of silicon valley (indeed, the entire
> start-up economy) already runs on this model, but it has been carried
> out in unformalized networks dependent on geographic or social
> nearness to VCs  and the mobilization of not just of attention but of
> reputation and rumor.   The idea of formalizing this system is
> something people have long talked about (does anyone remember The
> Street Performer Protocol?) and Kickstarter is one example.  It
> doesn't seem to fit easily into the models of attention-as-money or
> attention-as-commodity, because it doesn't bother with the moment of
> conversion:  people pitch ideas, if enough people pledge money, then
> people work and get paid.  If anything it inverts the time-relation of
> capital in the same way the emergence of "salaries" did for elites.
> Not being a marxist of any sort other than lapsed, I have no idea if
> this fits with what other people on the list are talking about.
> ck
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