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5 Week 05

Y Prof. Bullock’s response to Hybrid Assignment 04

In considering what circulates in an attention economy, many of you pointed to the new forms of waste and notoriety that have come with the rise of digital media. Along with this understanding of what digital media generates (more celebrities and e-waste), Taylor suggests, albeit indirectly, that we ourselves are changing.

A pivotal moment in American media history that is mostly forgotten today, Taylor (2014:192) explains how the quiz show affair helped pave the way for public service broadcasting as well as for the principle that there should be clear boundaries that separate programming from marketing and editorial from advertising. But, she argues, digital media is allowing marketers to finally break through the wall that separates art and editorial information from product information. Advertisers no longer have to rely on publications to purchase audiences. The “content industry” has not been abandoned. But content “about the world” is no longer understood as divisible from “what is for sale.”

The Internet appears to be shattering an older, more established form of order that made self-promotion unnecessary and unsavory. But all of this has happened before. Technology commentators invoke Max Weber’s explanation of the Protestant Reformation to celebrate this transformation while Taylor notes a transformation of long-held views about the accumulation of capital in and for itself facilitated by the Reformation (Taylor, 2014:208-9). Accumulation of wealth became attached to a moral vision: a life viewed as both efficient and productive. The accumulation wealth was evidence, therefore, of an individual’s spiritual significance.

Perhaps we should ask whether these two realms (the “existing” world and what is “made for sale”) were ever as clearly distinguishable as we imagine them to be? Are we in the midst of another Reformation today where, with the rise of an “attention economy,” ourselves and our relationships are available for sale?

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Due by midnight Tuesday, October 6th. You must complete both posts to receive full credit.

Post 1. Choose and define one of the terms below. [Tag this post as “Ross definitions”]. Please make an effort to choose a term that has not yet been defined. (250-300 words)

Ross: “attention economy” (26), “distributed labor” (29), “donor labor” (30), “amateur economy” (33), the “feminization of labor” (34), the “social factory” (36), “precarious work” (37), “false consciousness” (37), “Taylorism” (40).

Post 2. Ross (2013:22) argues that “it would be wrong to conclude that in the realm of digital labor there is nothing new under the sun. On the contrary, each rollout of online tools has offered ever more ingenious ways of extracting cheaper, discount work from users and participants.” Referencing at least two examples noted by Ross, for example on crowdsourcing, white collar / no collar interns, reality TV show contestants, or the rise of self-service, describe the cheapened and discounted form of labor that Ross affiliates with the rise of digital media.