[iDC] Hyperemployed or Feminized Labor?

John Sobol soboltalk at gmail.com
Wed Nov 20 21:11:15 UTC 2013

Hello again, iDCers. Happy 2013. it's been a while...

Ian, while I am sympathetic to the political goals that seem to underlie your rant - a commitment to fair remuneration, worker protection and a more equal distribution of resources – I feel that your analysis of the reasons people contribute their 'labour' to these communities is not just lacking, but essentially absent, which makes your critique much less useful than it might be, imo.

There are very good reasons for people to give their labour to social networks, crowdtasked platforms, modded games, etc. And unless you recognize those very powerful, useful and satisfying reasons, you and others critiquing their apparent 'exploitation' will find it difficult to offer constructive tools that build upon the strengths and the mutual benefits of these relationships while acknowledging their disparities and seeking to rebalance them. 

Take this listserv for example. if we adhere to your narrow critique, we are all being duped, exploited and otherwise taken advantage of for voluntarily contributing our intellectual labor and original ideas. Except that this isn't remotely true. We are not hyper-employees of iDC. 

Nor are the high school students contributing their artworks to The Media League – the online creative community that I created and run – naively exploited hyper-employees. 

As one of iDC's regular gadflies I am sympathetic to your contrarian impulses, but in this case I think you're missing half of the boat and – as a result – all of the potential to promote more egalitarian and progressive collaborative models online.

John Sobol
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