[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network
dk at trick.ca
Sun Jan 15 23:54:30 EST 2012
On 14.01.2012 12:22, Rob Myers wrote:
> Assuming we are talking about the few cultural producers for whom
> support is material,
The entertainment industries revenues are more than 50 billion anualy,
iirc. While this is certainly not big oil or consumer electronics in
gross figures, it certainly provides material support for many people.
Now, do doubt, this support is just as unevenly and exploitatively
distributed as it is in the rest of capitalist industry, but within
capitalism there is no alternative possible that can exist other than a
> their social capital has been shown to be
> transferrable to new business models very effectively.
Hi Rob, I'd love to know what you mean here, especially in light of the
structure of wealth, and the limits it places on potential "new business
models" by way of restricting their access to accumulated capital. I'd
like to know what sort of new business models you imagine can absorb the
masses of cultural workers and satisfy the masses of cultural consumers,
without first abolishing capitalism.
For instance, step me through how the capital to produce open-source
versions of films like Avatar, whatever you think of that film, could be
acquired without access to capital. Actually, not just one such film,
but the output of the entire industry. And of course, not just Avatar,
but even Battleship Potemkin or Citizen Kane, or Brazil or Delicatessen,
all of these would drain the total amount of crowd funding (or any
source other than capital) towards exhaustion, since the capitalist
labour market functions to drive the amount of money workers can
consistently divert from consumption to zero. It's not much of a
surprise that many of the films actually funded by Kickstarter
Of course, text-based work is far less capital-intensive than film, so
you could imagine that my examples based on film are irrelevant for open
source writing, but the structure of wealth works on all levels by
placing inescapable limits on the amount of funding for what could be
called "unproductive" consumption, meaning consumption of consumer goods
that are distributed in such a way that more capital is not captured.
In other words, "alternative business models" that are unable to
capture rent (such as open-source), could certainly fund any book, even
if they could only fund films of a limited budget, yet these are still
limited as to how many such books such models could finance, by the
structure of wealth.
Not only that, but the platforms on which "open source writing" depends
will also not be funded by capital, meaning the very platforms that we
use for open publishing will submerge even deeper into the the mirky
depth of net subculture, far away from the mediated, centralized,
capital-control social platforms the masses will use.
While all this can certainly be evaded, for those of us already firmly
entrenched in net subculture, there is simply no way this can be
avoided, so long as the logic of capital accumulation defines how
culture and communication platforms are produced.
> Most cultural workers are under-employed and under-paid.
As it is for most workers in pretty much any significant sector.
> studies of musicians and artists demonstrate this. To gain more of
> "employment" and to improve the "pay" of those who are "employed"
> requires strategies that do not benefit capital via big culture
And yet, we need to find ways to invest in such strategies for them to
became viable, and this is the part that remains invisible at the
moment, since the basic function of capitalism prevents labour from
Thus, once you go all the way down the rabbit hole, you realize that
the political struggle is same as it ever was, and that the way to
contest capital is not only by way of doctrinaire experiments alone,
though they may play an important role. The limits to the growth of
alternative models is still tied to the structure of wealth. Therefore,
in order to expand the viability of our alternative forms we need to
confront the age-old battle for wages and public goods, because the
source of wealth our models draw from is the retained earnings of
workers, and only by improving basic labour conditions can we give our
new models the space to function and grow.
>> Is that what we want? Fewer people to be paid for cultural
> If we want *more* people paid for "cultural production" then letting
> of the illusions of the culture industry and understanding how
> actually make a living rather than berating free culture for failing
> reproduce those illusions is a good first step.
Unfortunately, you need to go deeper than "how artists actually make a
living," which no doubt most of us here on this list know quite well,
you need to understand the basic functioning of the economy we are
working in and how it allocates wealth.
I guess that pretty much sums up my position, so these will be my last
comments. Thanks again to the organizers of this discussion on the
Empyre list, and to all the participants. Perhaps I'll see some of you
at Transmediale! Don't hesitate to come up and say hi.
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