[iDC] Labor: Tactical Plagiarism - Robot, Robots, Robota!

Dmitry Strakovsky dima at shiftingplanes.org
Mon Jun 29 23:41:52 UTC 2009

"Robota" actually is not just "labor" (spoke about it with a Czech  
friend a while ago) it literally means "drudgery"
The unwanted labor. This is actually an interesting point since this  
is precisely the type of labor that we seek to erase, export or hide.
Remember that "computers" where once women behind desks!

I am not sure how "robota" fits into the discussion of "playbor" other  
then it is perhaps the clearest antithesis to this term :)


On Jun 30, 2009, at 7:20 AM, Paul Miller wrote:

> "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it"
> Isidore Ducasse aka Comte de Lautréamont
> A brief intervention:
> I've been a lurker on this list for a while, and haven't posted
> because I've been really really really busy.
> It's been a pleasure to see the missives of people like Ken Wark,
> Howard Rheingold, and the musician Pat Kane's about post about his
> music practices online.
> I am a writer, artist and musician living in NY with several published
> books and albums that focus intensely on sampling as a kind of urban
> post-Situationist "détournement" practice. In one of my books entitled
> Sound Unbound (MIT Press, 2008), I engaged the writer Jonathan Lethem
> to remix his essay about plaigiarism along with other authors I had
> commisioned like Brian Eno, Steve Reich, Daphne Keller (Senior Legal
> Counsel to Google), Saul Williams, and Chuck D. I always enjoy mixing
> people because, left to their own devices, they usually don't.
> I like to think of the discussion I've been seeing on the list about
> play and labor as a strange dialectic between known forms of labor and
> their evolution into other "unknown" forms like the social
> accumulation of knowledge, the discursive space of dj mixes, the
> fragmented codes people use to foster "temporary autonomous zones"
> made of real time interaction.
> One of the main issues I always, always, always see in these kinds of
> list servs is a kind of informal Apartheid between use-practice in the
> everyday world - gasp, multiculturalism!!! The theoretical constructs
> that many of the participants on the lists  use to en-frame the
> discourse around how digital media and politics intersects very rarely
> with the "real" world.
> I'm inspired by texts by multi-cultural theoreticians like Trinh T.
> Minh Ha's "Framer Framed" and Robin Kelley's "Freedom Dreams: The
> Black Radical Imagination" as much as I'm fascinated with works like
> Howard Rheingold's "Smart Mobs" and Lawrence Lessig's "The Future of
> Ideas."
> It's very rare to see the kind of hybrid discourse many on the list-
> servs talk about in praxis, so I've been mildly surprised by the turn
> of dialog on the IDC list.
> I look forward to more discourse, and well... I'll drift back into
> lurker mode.
> In terms of the idea of "labor" - I'm always drawn to Karel Capek, the
> Czech writer who popularized the term "robot" (a good theme for our
> summer blockbuster era of Terminator and Transformers). The word which
> is derived from the czech noun "robota" meaning "labor." To celebrate
> the idea of labor and automated daemons that, for example, inhabit y
> favorite book of last summer Daniel Suarez's "Daemon"
> I thought I'd pass this along. It's the story of the origin of
> Rossum's Universal Robots:
>      About the Word Robot
>     translated by Norma Comrada
>     A reference by Professor Chudoba, to the Oxford Dictionary account
>     of the word Robot's origin and its entry into the English
> language, reminds
>     me of an old debt. The author of the play R.U.R. did not, in
> fact, invent
>     that word; he merely ushered it into existence. It was like this:
> the idea
>     for the play came to said author in a single, unguarded moment.
> And while
>     it was still warm he rushed immediately to his brother Josef, the
> painter,
>     who was standing before an easel and painting away at a canvas
> till it
>     rustled.
>     "Listen, Josef," the author began, "I think I have an idea for a
> play."
>     "What kind," the painter mumbled (he really did mumble, because at
>     the moment he was holding a brush in his mouth).
>     The author told him as briefly as he could.
>     "Then write it," the painter remarked, without taking the brush
>     from his mouth or halting work on the canvas. The indifference
> was quite
>     insulting.
>     "But," the author said, "I don't know what to call these  
> artificial
>     workers. I could call them Labori, but that strikes me as a bit
> bookish."
>     "Then call them Robots," the painter muttered, brush in mouth, and
>     went on painting. And that's how it was. Thus was the word Robot
> born;
>     let this acknowledge its true creator.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Anyway, It's been a pleasure seeing some of the missives cross my cell
> phone screen.
> Keep it flowin'
> Paul aka Dj Spooky
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Dmitry Strakovsky
Assistant Professor of Intermedia
University of Kentucky

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