“Free Labor” Tiziana Terranova
How does Terranova characterize the relationship of subcultural movements to capitalism?
Unfortunately I was not able to come for this class. However, the article by Tiziana Terranova, “Free Labor”, starts outlining what is digital economy, which emerged in the late 1990’s, is a “specific mechanism of internal capture of larger pools of social and cultural knowledge”(52). Furthermore, she starts explaining how digital economy has been a form of subculture to have its capital gains. Subculture is a ramification of culture itself, meaning that this one forms a connection between what already producing capital gain.
Terranova explains that monetary value comes from knowledge rather than labor and that the Internet itself is a mechanism of late capitalism meaning that is part of the subculture. As an example, music blog where independents singers post their music and others can use it as a form of capitalism, because system can extract as much value as possible from them. The subculture is composed between the culture, the cultural industry and labor; for example, small designers and as mentioned before independent music labors.
In chapter 6, “Drawing Lines”, Taylor describes how advertising is an important component of digital media. Media has always been advertised driven. Taylor argues about how individuals are bought with the ideal of something being free but in reality it isn’t. The attention economy focuses to sell personal information to others corporations, which labels and categorizes what individuals likes or dislikes. According to Taylor “Native Advertising” function is to adjust to the experiences of the users, specifically designed to satisfy the users, which is done by “creative strategists”. We are attracted with the ideal of things being projected as “free”, and get caught in the process, adding to more economical gain to the big corporations.
In addition, Taylor explains that because of the way that the market has distorted the content and persuading us with the latest technology. The economy has shifted of having new ways of attracting the consumers by being up-to-date and upgrading their gadget devices. Advertisement plays an important on digital media. Unfortunately, we are often unaware of the damages that we as consumers contribute too. E-waste is known as the disposal of electronic devices, gadgets, etc that in our eyes is out of fashion or as Taylor refers “ begin to look démodé” (Taylor, Loc:2841). E-waste is considered to be hazardous waste and difficult to disassemble. These are some of the new forms of economy of the digital era.
The digital media and society class allowed me to have a different perspectives of media itself. What I enjoyed the most from the class was the book The People’s Platform from Astra Taylor. The reading was quiet enjoyable and simple. Taylor argued of many things about media that possibly many of us were unaware. Taylor explains how media has shifted, and instead is becoming more and more as a capital gain. Some of the readings from The People’s Platform that I enjoyed the most were for the Love or Money and A Peasant’s Economy. I believe that her was packed with enriched information. She explores very deeply how media has evolved and how today is becoming more of a commercial tool.
The course itself was packed of beneficial information that I believe many of us maybe did not have that notion about it. Also another good experience from the class was having the presentation. I came out of my comfort zone. Moreover, the second part of the readings was a bit complex. The book from Counterculture to Cyberculture was not as enjoyable as the first one. However, it has a deep a meaningful conceptualization of how media, the internet, and research is interconnected and started the whole media world. Furthermore, I enjoyed the presentation, even when it I felt shy. It was very useful to understand how all of this big corporates are using media as an economical tool rather than a knowledgeable tool as Astra Taylor argues on her book. In addition, the Mechanical Turk, Whatever Blogging and The Consideration on Hacker Manifesto were some of the reading that I also enjoyed from The Internet As a Playground and Factory.
Overall, the class allowed me to learn about what digital media is really about.
After reading Chapter 5, “ VIrtuality and Community on WELL” , the idea of a self- governing system is that this one operates with little to no control. Here users had the responsibility of the content and what they posted on the website forum. It is seen that the WELL and the Whole Earth Catalog had the same views; however with the WELL forum users had the chance to interact whenever they wanted, they could exchange any type information and also they had the control to edit or to whom they wanted to deliver the information. They were owners of their words they put out, users had control of almost everything. All source of information could be found in this forum. WELL was a web-system in which users exchanged valuable information among each other, a self-governing system there were mangers who were people who a higher level but they would only interfere occasionally.
Based on the readings and with a clearer understanding of the counterculture, and the different movements of the 1960’s which were the new communalist versus the new left. Fuller’s vision was to explore how necessary was it to combine different aspect of life and disciplines to help the evolution of technology. According to Fuller’s description the “comprehensive designer” is meant to be a descendent of the cold war “psychologist”. His vision was to analyze data that was collected from previous institutions, data that could later on be beneficial to other individuals. Fuller’s purpose and what made it so appealing to Stewart Brand was that he “attempted to visualize the world’s needs then and in the future, and then design technologies that would meet those needs”. Brand shares the same vision as Fuller because his vision was in accordance to human needs as well. Moreover, I believe that the presence of the Native American, its structure and other components help to shaped Brand’s vision. The Native American was organized into tribes instead of hierarchy. Brand’s ideal “was that we were all one”, meaning that if we are all equal, why have hierarchy, political structure. As explained in the reading it had a major impact in his way of perception to him and others in USCO. In accordance to new era of information and how technology was captivating all the different movements emerging in that time, the ideal of the comprehensive designer was to set aside hierarchy and instead serve as equal to everyone.
My understanding on this complex reading is as following. In the chapter “ The shifting politics of the computational metaphor” Turner introduces the idea of how technology was utilized as a source for the use of military platform. Also, he mentions how the end of the world war II triggered a transformation in American science and society as well. He mentions how before scientist and science did not interfered with other areas such as politics, military among others. this changed later on different perception as is referred in the as the ” the computational metaphor”. Moreover, he refers to the New communalist, as those who helped reform the American social structure; where the evolution of personal computer was essential away from the political spectrum . For the new communalist information, or personal knowledge, is the key to the countercultural politics. Meanwhile for the new left seeks to work with established structured trying to seek social change through the political and military forms.
The essay by Jodi Dean, “Whatever Blogging” explains how we interpret the term “whatever” in society. “Whatever” it is often assumed as a sign of indifference. It is assumed or interpreted from one’s point of view. On the other hand, As Jodi explores how “new modes of community and new forms of personality anticipated by the dissolution of inscriptions of identity through citizenship, ethnicity, and other modern markers of belonging”, could be that it refers the “whatever being” as the information that turns into “ communicative capitalism”. As an example, Jodi states that “ Communicative capitalism facilitates and incites these attempts, employing ever-innovative upgrades to ensure not just the attempts continue but that they accelerate”(180), meaning that they are the main commodities being exchanged. On the other hand, another point that Jodi exposes in her essay is when she says that same way in which blogs serves as a way to informs us it is a way of communicative capitalism. This is referring to the same way that Buck-Mors argues about the imaginary space that cinemas are supposed to create. Jodi states that “ blogs- standing in for the networked information and entertainment media of communicative capitalism- not only do not create such a space for a mass but dissolve any sense it”. We are often caught up with the idea that we are only sharing with close acquaintances and friends or others, who share similar interests. We tend to share, like, and try to access blogs that interest ones desire. Obviously, things have evolved ever since, attention was once centered on mass media radio, cinema where messages were delivered through this sources, but now focus is mainly exposed to social media, it is here where the “whatever being” is centered at.
In the reading of “Return to the Crowds”, by Ahyan Aytes, she makes a clear comparison on how things have shifted since that century, but somehow it still remains the same. The automaton Chess player exposes the ideal that artificial intelligence is not enough and is dependent; behind that magnificent player was always someone behind. Moreover, behind Amazon’s platform it is obvious that this systems would not operate if human nature, cognition were not involved. The power of knowledge from individuals is necessary, and the same way Automaton Chess Player operated many years ago still is adapted, “HIT”; meaning, that “ machine denoted a particular type of subjectivity because of the nature of the actors and their limited set of behaviors that are strictly defined within a set of rules in the game of chess”(85). “HIT” is necessary for many of this technological platforms. She explains how human intelligence is fundamental. Amazon’s turk, is a form of crowdsource where the work must follow few steps where “HIT” is necessary “human intelligence – humans behaving like machines behaving like humans” and both are combined and are able to create artificial artificial intelligence. In this form of crowdsourcing, things like transcribing audio, tagging videos or content, surveys and psychological evaluations, etc. Also, what I understand is that there are key pieces that are the ones that allow this platform to work and without them it would not be able to function. They are necessary and fundamental in order to work. “If the digital network is the assembly line of cognitive labor, then the Mechanical Turk is its model apparatus. As the network shifts the object of control from the bodies to the collective mind, the Mechanical Turk achieves this objective by foreclosing the mode of collective cultural production to cognitive workers and confining them within the legislative, temporal, and cultural states of exception”.
Nowadays, digital media has overtaken in all forms on how things are done. From industrialized to digitalize, from freelance to e-lance. Ross states that crowdsourcing refers to a way in which knowledge is often collected and collaborative and how this has served to be used to contextualize the rise where users a often the one who are doing the work indirectly. It is seen that as mentioned by the author “ The crowd is not only smarter than trained employees, you don’t need to make social security contributions to take advantage of its wisdom or put up with wayward personalities of the creative on payroll”( 30). Obviously we encounter it everyday even if is not our desire. When we access websites such as Youtube and like the videos, when we like pictures on facebook and Instagram we are sometimes coming across the work of talented individuals who are photographers, reporters, and individuals the successful ones are quickly snatched up by the likes of gigantic corporations as mentioned before. Also another form of crowdsourcing is when individuals use hashtags. As Ross mentions big social media companies such as twitter, groupon, zynga, linkending and tumblr, these companies use a “ free, or token wage, labor is increasingly available though a variety of channels: crowdsourcing; the explosion of unpaid, near-obligatory internships in every white –collar sector”(24).
According to Ross Distributed labor is suggested as a way of describing the use of the Internet to mobilize the spare processing power of a widely dispersed crowd of discrete individuals. Distributed Labor, is categorized in two terms. First, it doesn’t necessarily refer to the old term in applied in the last decade when technology was not as advanced as it is today. Instead, distributed labor refers as the technology work-flow and work place that is known as the mobile office because it could be performed everywhere. The “privilege” of distributed labor is that it could be performed anywhere as long as there is a connection. According to Ross the ones to perform this type of task are the freelancers or e-lancers he categorized them. Obviously, distributed labor as the term refers, tasks are distributed in an organized manner according to the existing talent of micro-division but a lower cost. Meaning that the labor being done isn’t free of cost; the costs is a lot less than the traditional. But as long as there is a network connecting and the job is being performed and productive it does not matter. Distributed Labor, is seen everywhere, obviously when production can be performed at a lower cost by more individuals and be even more profitable it does not matter. Obviously, corporations benefit from individuals such as freelancers, and others who are skilled and have the ability to complete task according to their business needs.