[-empyre-] (The Internet as Playground and Factory) - tulip madness -a tale of old times

trebor at thing.net trebor at thing.net
Thu Nov 26 23:27:50 EST 2009

Good morning from coast to coast, Ricardo. It's 6:40 am; Brooklyn is
slowly waking up. The street lamps just switched off. I'll quickly write
before my daughter wakes up.

I loved the way you call up back memories of EDT, and I'm especially
curious about your question in the end--
"how do we train the next generations to hactivate the design of "playbor"
towards a "acti-play" that only pretends to "labor" in a directed manner -
de-linking towards disturbance."

Let me try to respond through the lens of The Internet as Playground and
Factory conference.

The scale on which all that networked expropriation takes place has
seriously changed since the late nineties and the lateral axis is much
stronger now. We are used and are using each other. Life itself is put to
work. We are performing our identity. We are watched and we are watching
each other. In addition to government and corporate surveillance we are
now also watching each other. We, the ones who mingle among the hundreds
of millions who wake up to the monolithic, centralized, non-transparent
Social Web every day, are reinforcing mental and bodily habits and shape
modes of life. To be sure, the Internet is only one location, one instance
where labor markets have shifted over the past decade. Mark Andrejevic's
is comfortable calling all that exploitation (see his slides
http://is.gd/53YOT, video http://vimeo.com/7697188).

To expropriate the expropriators is harder than we may want to admit.
At the conference, I was probably the only person who saw at least
sections of most presentations. Many speakers tried to construct new
of distributed labor and networked play while others focused more on
tangible alternatives. Speakers like Gabriella Coleman, Frank Pasquale,
Chris Kelty, Hendrick Speck, Brooke Singer, and Michel Bauwens -to name
just a few- suggested practices that offer concrete possibilities for
however limited social change.

Towards the end of my own talk, I located a few avenues for action (see
slides http://is.gd/51HJx). Hacking social media platforms/"jail breaking"
Facebook, is one of the suggestions. I wonder what you make of the
concluding points there.

With so much hype surrounding user-submitted content, I was pleased to see
the wave of fake, photo-shopped photos being submitted to news agencies
like CNN and others in 2008. Citizen reporting at its best.

I don't think that the refusal or withdrawal from these social milieus is
a good options for most people in the overdeveloped world. It takes a lot
of privilege to be able to say "no." Participation is hardly a choice for
most people in the US or Europe (and we can expand that dynamic to cell
phone use in some economic developing countries). For youngsters in Egypt,
Facebook was a useful (if by no means unproblematic) tool to organize
strikes and I could add many such examples. These disturbances accept the
fact that they take place on corporate grounds and in a hybrid economy.


You can also read through an edited archive of conference tweets, which
can serve as entry point for further discussion. http://is.gd/53JVJ

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