The term “social or peer production” points out that the system that now exists due to the internet’s accessibility to all creators, whether professional or amateur. The traditional system’s hierarchy is now flattened because, “…the cultural field, from academia to entertainment is remade because digital technology [allows individuals to create and collaborate at no cost]…” (2014:45) keeping in mind that capitalism is the “traditional” system in this country that strictly observes a class system based solely upon net worth, there exists a system which places the “haves” socially above the “have nots”. However, with the consideration of cost removed from the process, the haves and the have nots in many regards have been relegated to a more level playing field. The internet is now flooded with amateur works, which are being copied and shared with the same fervor once reserved only for works with big corporate backing such as MGM studios or Sony Recordings. For that reason, there is virtually no observation of class on the internet. There is only like, or dislike. A non-famous person’s work has just as much chance of going viral as a non-famous person’s work; when two or more non-famous person’s their work onto a platform and compete for views, they are said to be peers: this because class wise, there is no class distinction in open sourced digital media. When things are free of cost all classes of society as we have seen are ready willing and able to participate. Taylor says of it, “An amateur paradise is upon us….where people can [produce for the fun of it] …without asking permission first. “ (2014:45). All works based upon this model are classified as products of peer production.
In my hybrid assignment #3: Chapter 2, I defined “Networked Amateurism”. My understanding of “Networked Amateurism” is that as a generation, we are all connected, as we network through social media and through computer platforms. However, we are so unaware of the bigger picture, and amateurs at this game called Capital Strategy; that we fall short in knowing how the game is being played. Therefore, we are deprived of the benefits that we think are actually gained by using the internet. We are actually not the ones benefiting from what is being done online. Capitalist are the skillful manipulators of how content is being seen and heard, while we (the amateurs) are the unskillful members of a world that is using us to network in ways that we are unaware of and being used for the purpose of profit and gain.
Complex creative labor is the human touch placed upon a project or work. Most of our labor in modern times is done in rapid fashion due to our advancements in technology. Take for example the assembly line, a way of mass producing product for the masses but at the same time cutting much of the middle men from the equation. Technology has dipped it’s fingers in every aspect of our work place. Though, in many cases it has helped us for the greater good, it has also replaced the unique and one of a kind admiration we once had for products and goods we purchased. Everything becomes the same and robotic when all and everything mimics the next thing to its left and to its right. Beautiful words on a page are now translated into meaningless text without emotion through an app on our cellular phones or through a quick search on the web. Being creative in our labor allows for new ideas and inventions and prevents us from quickly getting to a point of stagnation. Creative labor brings with it culture and history within the completed end result rather it be a product or a work place. Much can be learned from this then simply putting workers on a line collecting parts or placing a piece of code through a computers software program
The idea behind networked amateurism is that with the growth of the internet, it is believed that everyone has equal opportunity to pursue their interests and make money from it. For example, many aspiring photographers use Instagram to display their work to the public, without the use of an agent. Taylor makes the point that these social media sites are bombarded with amateurs, because some of these individuals have no training or qualifications. Still, this networked amateurism is hailed by many as a means to change the way money circulates.
Techno optimists overlook the fact that the reverse is actually true and, in the words of Taylor, we “hasten the transfer of wealth to Silicon Valley billionaires.” She uses the example of the Press Pause Play documentary that discusses the digital revolution and support of DIY principles, and highlights the fact that they completely omit the fact that their project was funded by a major telecommunications company. What appears to be a culture where the amateur can profit substantially through the use of the internet is actually a myth. The ability for each individual to create and publish their work online for the entire world to see does not make us egalitarian. She states “the struggle between amateurs and professionals is, fundamentally, a distraction. The tragedy for all of us is that we find ourselves in a world where the qualities that define professional work; stability, social purpose, autonomy, and intrinsic and extrinsic rewards- are scarce. Low paid helots are now unpaid interns and networked amateurs, and we have somehow deceived ourselves into believing that the state of insecurity and inequity is a form of liberation.”
Digital Media and Society
September 21, 2015
Chapter 2 Definitions- “Social Production”
Social Production is a term coined by NYU professor Clay Shirkly and it refers to the creation of culture by individuals scattered around the globe using digital technology “for the pleasure of it and without asking permission first”. It emphasizes the decentralization of the previous institutional model that reserved culture production only for a few and embraces a system that is open for everyone, using the internet and social media as a platform that allows for collaboration. On this decentralization, Taylor states “Barriers to entry have been removed, gatekeepers have been demolished, and the costs of creating and distributing culture have plummeted” (p.46). Other similar terms to describe this phenomenon are “peer production”, “crowdsourcing” and “wikinomics”. All terms agreeing that the intrinsic motivation to create culture or collaborate on its creation, trumps the quality of cultured made by professionals that are paid to produce it. “If people are intrinsically motivated to produce culture, and technology enables them to act on this motivation effortlessly and affordably and without financial reward, then amateurs are less compromised than compensated professionals and thus superior ”(p.47).
Although Taylor admits that the professional class is not faultless as she mentions the barriers they impose through licensing and credentialing, she is not completely sold on the ideas of the “new-media utopians”. First, she highlights the fact that new-media utopians assume that amateurs don’t expect any monetary compensation and that fame, admiration, and social status are as much as a reward. Second, she emphasizes that this theory doesn’t take into consideration production costs, which disregards that a decline in industry profitability affects artistic production. Finally, she states that “it is deeply cynical to deny professionals any emotional investment in their work”. How can passion be measured? The truth is most individuals exists somewhere in between amateurs and professionals, searching for a balance between passion and career.