[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network

Dmytri Kleiner dk at trick.ca
Sat Jan 14 00:10:49 EST 2012


On 13.01.2012 11:03, adam wrote:

> First - the vast majority of authors under the
> current dominant model of publishing *dont* make any money.

Yes, the publishing industry is exploitive, no doubt. Yet, the vast 
majority of authors and other workers involved who do make money, make 
it in this way, and the works produced in this way are also the ones 
read by the most people. And it will stay this way, so long as the 
production of culture is carried out under capitalist terms.


> Find the right software and its done in
> minutes. This puts *very* profitable publishing in the path of open
> publishing.

Reducing the cost production is only "profitable" if you can prevent 
competition, which would otherwise drive price to cost. "Closed" 
publishing can prevent such competition byway of state-enforced 
intellectual property, open publishing can not.


> Lastly models for becoming profitable are changing. The biggest shift
> I see is to put the money at the front of the production cycle 
> instead
> of at the end. There are platforms like Unbound
> (http://www.unbound.co.uk/) that are giving this a go, and many
> successful examples in Kickstarter:

And this brings us back to where I left off in my response to Simon, 
the issue of scale.

I love Kickstarter and simular sites, like Flattr, Goteo, etc. If you 
are a cultural worker or free software producer I highly recommend using 
these, as they are generating a fantastic community of cultural 
production, which is great to be part of, if you can.

Yet, it's a very small community. So the vast majority of production 
can not be funded by these sites. It's exactly the kind of token or 
fringe alternatives that we must not mistake as a genuine embodiment of 
social change, as cool as it is for the few it can support.

Kickstarter, for example, has raised $125 million dollars in it's 
history. In total. This seems like a rather impressive sum until you 
remember that it's just over half the budget of "Spiderman 2," which is 
one movie, and not an especially high-budget one.

Visit the video store and walk down the isles, imagine that each of the 
titles you see on the shelf had budgets more simular to Spiderman 2 than 
too anything funding by Kickstarter. Now imagine the total number of 
workers employed by the budgets of the movies you see in the video 
store, compared to the number of workers employed by projects funded by 
Kickstarter and you can see what I mean.

Does Kickstarter work? Sure! Does it fund amazing projects? Yes! Should 
you use it? Absolutely! Will it change the way culture is produced? No. 
It wont. And even imaging it could assumes, as I mentioned, a massive 
descaling of cultural employment. Would we even want that?

Now, you might believe that that is merely a temporary situation, that 
Kickstarter and simular sites can grow and grow until they can reach a 
simular scale to capital funded culture, but that is not possible. Why? 
Because Spiderman 2 is funded from accumulated capital, while 
Kickstarter is funded from the retained earnings of workers. This is a 
rather important difference.

What it means is that the limits of the amounts of funding available 
for each model are a function of the structure of wealth in society.  
The total pool of accumulated capital vs the total amount of retained 
earnings workers are able to consistently divert from consumption. The 
former is orders of magnitude larger than the later. In fact, the 
workings of the labour market will tend to push the later towards 0.

For projects like Kickstarter to scale they can not depend on the 
limited funds workers are able to divert from consumption, and must tap 
into the real source of accumulation: Surplus Value. In other words, 
only when money available for Kickstarter investment can be reproduced 
from the captured profits of the works they fund. To achieve that, 
Kickstarter would need become not much different than the industry as it 
exists today.

Sorry if this breaks your heart. It breaks mine. But as much as I love 
our hacker and free culture community, let's not mistake our subculture 
with a new mode of production, doing so will only make us complacent, 
content with our lack of complicity in evil proprietary culture, instead 
of standing with the great majority of cultural producers and consumers 
and demanding nothing less that the complete transformation of cultural 
production, which means the abolition of capitalism.



-- 
Dmytri Kleiner




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