[iDC] Introduction: The Internet as Playground and Factory

trebor at thing.net trebor at thing.net
Mon Jun 8 13:41:10 UTC 2009

Good morning all,

Life is not all about labor in the traditional sense but what creates
economic value is continuously changing and expanding.

Jonathan Beller describes this as the financialization of everyday life
(our attention, imagination, creativity, and faith). This financialization
applies as much to the mortgage that Amanda mentioned as it does to the
current economic shakedown, the dotcom crash, and to what happens when we
log on. The value of new social media, speculative and "real" (in terms of
actual revenue) is created through advertising and the digital traces of
our attention. Driven much more by the desire for praise than
remuneration, people participate and this social participation has become
the oil of the digital economy.

In 1928, Bertolt Brecht wrote his poem Questions from A Worker Who Reads,
where he points to the labor of the cooks, soldiers, and masons, which
cannot be found in history books. Today, Burak Arikan's Meta Markets draws
attention to user labor by creating a stock market for trading "socially
networked creative products" (http://meta-markets.com).

Tracks of our behavior, the public management of our relationships with
others are recorded, sorted, analyzed and sold while we are enjoying
ourselves and benefit in many ways. IPv6 comes into this discussion. It's
really all quite frictionless despite Digg's Boston Digital Party and the
complaints of Facebook users starting in September 2006. For me, these
events are spectacles of Internet democracy; they are consumer feedback
loops. We are negotiating a product that we are co-producing.

In the middle of the eighteenth century, Diderot and d'Alembert published
Encyclopédie, which celebrated the virtues of labor. Throughout its
twenty-seven volumes, articles dealt with everything from baking bread to
making nails. What would Diderot include in his revised edition today? A
few places to start--

virtual volunteering (i.e., “
 if handled adeptly, [unpaid Verizon
volunteers] hold considerable promise" http://is.gd/T6Q6)

creating meta data (i.e., Flickr Commons)

uploading and/or watching/looking at photos and videos

socializing (playful acts of reciprocity)

paying attention to advertising

micro-blogging (status updates, Twitter)

co-innovating (i.e., bicycles, mountain bikes, skate boards, cars, etc)

posting blog entries and comments (i.e., the bloggers who work for        
 Huffington Post)

performing emotional work (presenting a personality that “fits in”)

posting news stories

referring (i.e., Digg.com)

creating virtual objects (i.e., Second Life)

beta testing (i.e, Netscape Navigator 1998)

providing feedback

consuming media (i.e., watching videos)

consuming advertisement

data work (i.e., filling in forms, profiles etc)

viral marketing by super-users

artistic work (i.e., video mashups, DeviantArt, Learning to Love You More)

Most of this about pleasure, play, personal benefit, and profit-- all at
the same time. It's fun, sure, and the price we pay for the "free
services" is complex. Michael Warner is a good place to start thinking
about that:

"Our lives are minutely administered and recorded to a degree
unprecedented in history;" as Warner put it, "We navigate a world of
corporate agents that do not respond or act as people do. Our personal
capacities, such as credit, turn out on reflection to be expressions of
corporate agency."
(Publics and Counterpublics, p52)

For now,

R. Trebor Scholz
The New School University

Re: Remuneration
"A Fine Is a Price"

More information about the iDC mailing list