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

Armin Medosch armin at easynet.co.uk
Sat Oct 31 07:59:46 UTC 2009

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

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

thenextlayer software, art, politics http://www.thenextlayer.org

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