Future Cinema

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Trebor Scholz reports back on the Internet as Playground conference –a lot of good links and video mashups!

Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2009 17:04:23 -0500
From: Trebor Scholz
Subject: [-empyre-] Introduction Trebor Scholz (The Internet as Playground and Factory)
To: soft_skinned_space
Message-ID:
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Hello all,

Thanks so much to Timothy and Renate for inviting me to join you with a report of The Internet as Playground and Factory conference, which I convened at The New School two weeks ago. I’ll try to boil down the many months of discussion to a few paragraphs and some links to resources. Viral modes of design and hacktivism are somewhat related to the event and I hope my bridge to -empyre’s- theme of the month is not too illusive.

How did I come to the issue of digital labor? In April 2007 I wrote a short essay “What The MySpace Generation Should Know About Working For Free.” Consequently, I was invited to many universities to speak about distributed labor. In 2008, I was part of a panel at The New School with Danah Boyd and
Ethan Zuckerman that, for me, highlighted the problem with non-transparency, data portability, and dominance of one singular social networking service (http://twurl.nl/alpl65). Over and over I realized that students shut down when I talked about Internet users being exploited. Later, this experience
became the leitmotif for the introductory trailer of the conference. Labor? Exploi-what? (http://twurl.nl/yjgibl)

However, when asked if they feel used online frequently the answer was “Yes.” The next question was often what keeps them from calling it quits and we realized that the social costs of withdrawal from or refusal of the Social Web are steep. Exiting sites like Facebook feels almost impossible to them. Conversations about expropriation rather than exploitation, however, opened students up to considerations about shifting labor markets and the changing sites of value creation. A large conference about digital labor would perhaps give credibility to what some thought of as outrageous
“communistic” claims of corporate expropriation on the Social Web- that was my hope. Today, years later, more and more people recognize the issues raised by this conference as urgent. Many scholars discussed labor in the context of the networks of networks at least a decade ago, of course, but this event set out to re-invigorate this critical discourse and I think that that succeeded.

Alex Rivera’s sci-fi thriller Sleep Dealer kicked off the conference by describing a near-future scenario where American corporations can extract all the work without having to deal with the worker
(http://www.sleepdealer.com/).

I felt strongly that the discussion about the expropriation of digital labor should be accessible to more than a small circle of media scholars. I requested that nobody should simply read aloud their however brilliant papers. Consequently, some 100 artists, media theorists, students, legal scholars, programmers, social media experts, and activists joined to re-evaluate what constitutes free labor, value, and play in an economy that is increasingly driven by the expropriation of social participation online. Substantive cross-disciplinarity was definitely a strength of the event. Beyond accessibility, the struggle for tangible alternatives was another key objective and several speakers exclusively focused on that.

We discussed the meaning of labor and value in the context of today’s network society. Financial value was discussed in terms of its direct financial as well as speculative properties. A few questions: What are the possibilities of political consciousness among Internet users? With hundreds of millions of people flocking like moths to the light on one single social networking service, is not there an opportunity for a collective self-becoming, an understanding of the complex tradeoffs in that social
milieu? What about unionization of net users? How can we rethink class and demand a stake in the wealth that we are generating? Where does the real power reside? “How much power do you want to give to major sites on the internet?” “Whose interest is our fun ultimately serving? Is there any escape from the kingdom of fun?” We outlined the tension between clever PR by enterprises, contributions to the commons, expropriation of users, individual self-interest, and corporate profits. What can you say about your participation in these social milieus? What about the future of public media and non-profit infra structures? Are we falling victim to a fetishization of the Internet that takes away from a realization of the real places of exploitation such as slums with their more 1 billion inhabitants?

1200 people registered for the conference. All 20 sessions were well attended, rooms were mostly filled to the last seat and even beyond that. More than 800 people watched the live stream. Several publishers are interested in publishing the book. The Internet as Playground and Factory was the inaugural conference in a series of biennial conferences about the politics of digital media at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. As a proposed entry point for this week’s discussion on -empyre- I
will add some documents that resulted from this conference. It’s so much material, let’s just kick off the discussion somewhere in the middle…

Cheers,
Trebor

=
R. T. Scholz
The New School University
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

Conference web site/introduction
http://www.digitallabor.org

Download the program -including acknowledgments-
(http://digitallabor.org/program) or flip through it in your browser
(http://www.scribd.com/doc/22379814/Program-IPF09).

Abstracts and bios of all participants:
http://digitallabor.org/participants/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/idctweets
We tweeted short quotes from in-depth discussions on the IDC list to provide
an entry point.

Conference Twitter hashtag: #IPF09
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23IPF09

Delicious
http://delicious.com/Trebor/labor_conference

BackChatter: the Twitter Conference Game by Local No. 12
http://digitallabor.org/backchatter/
http://twitology.org/

We comprised a bibliography on digital labor from submissions by conference participants.
http://digitallabor.org/references/

Photo Documentation
http://www.flickr.com/photos/newschool/sets/72157622674520059/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/treborscholz/sets/72157622866952804/

Discussion Mailing List
(http://digitallabor.org/discussion)
November 2009
https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-November/thread.html
October https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-October/thread.html
September https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-September/thread.html
July https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-July/thread.html
June https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-June/thread.html

We are in the process of filming short video statements, “Voices from #IPF09″
(http://vimeo.com/user2103510/videos/sort:plays)

Christiane Paul (http://vimeo.com/7404991), Pat Kane (http://vimeo.com/7698029), Jonathan Beller (http://vimeo.com/7404991), Mark Andrejevic (http://vimeo.com/7697188), Thomas Malaby
(http://vimeo.com/7697806), Jonah Bossewitch (http://vimeo.com/7446992),
Frank Pasquale (http://vimeo.com/7529987) Fred Benenson (http://vimeo.com/7426157), Jonathan Beller (http://vimeo.com/7449081), Patrick Lichty (http://vimeo.com/7280996), Melissa Gregg
(http://vimeo.com/7696032), Gabriella Coleman (http://vimeo.com/7122412), Stephanie Rothenberg (http://vimeo.com/6942119), Brittany Chozinski (http://vimeo.com/6901224), Fred Turner (http://vimeo.com/7696221), Catherine Driscoll (http://vimeo.com/7509706), Catherine Driscoll
(http://vimeo.com/7509706), Orit Halpern (http://vimeo.com/6895034), Prelude Discussion Terranova, Wark, Ross (http://vimeo.com/6941506), Tiziana Terranova (http://vimeo.com/6882379), Andrew Ross (part 1: http://vimeo.com/6880896, part 2: http://vimeo.com/6881391), Patricia Clough
(http://vimeo.com/6797762), Ursula Endlicher (http://vimeo.com/6789940) Ken Wark (http://vimeo.com/6428602), Dominic Pettman (http://vimeo.com/6428435), Alexander R. Galloway (http://vimeo.com/6527166), Hector Postigo (http://vimeo.com/6428745), Jonah Brucker-Cohen (http://vimeo.com/6461344), Saskia Sassen (http://vimeo.com/6789940)
[and from different vimeo channel Paolo Carpignano (http://vimeo.com/1582138)]

Yes, there is a video mashup (http://vimeo.com/7581938).

Paolo Carpignano introduction and response to Tiziana Terranova and Andrew
Ross.
https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-October/003995.html
====================

Some conference speakers shared their presentations online. Please note that
many of these slide shows, videos, mind maps, and texts are still in
progress. They are listed here in random order.

Mark Andrejevic “Estranged Free Labor”
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/mark-andrejevic-as-part-of-the-internet-as-
playground-and-factory

Ivan Sigal “Global Voices. Volunteerism and building an international online
community” http://www.slideshare.net/ivansigal/digital-labor-sigal

McKenzie Wark “Ideologies of Praxis”
Quote: Those who can’t do, consult.
http://www.slideshare.net/mckenziewark/ideologies-of-praxis

Sean Cubitt “After Tolerance”
http://www.slideshare.net/seancubitt/after-tolerance

Thomas Malaby “Performing Value: Labor and Contingency in Virtual Worlds”
http://www.slideshare.net/tmmalaby/performing-value-labor-and-contingency-in
-virtual-worlds

Trebor Scholz “The Expropriation of Digital Labor and What to Do About It”
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/institutionalized-free-labor-and-what-to-do
-about-it

Jodi Dean “Whatever-Blogging”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22431075/Chapter-3-Whatever-Blogging
http://www.slideshare.net/jodi3425/whatever-blogging-show

Laura Forlano “Writing for the Algorithm: Digital Labor and Mobile Work”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22441702/Forlano-Writing-for-the-Algorithm-11-1-09

Darren Wershler “Uncreative Class Slides”
http://www.slideshare.net/darrenwershler/uncreative-class-slides

Melissa Gregg “Affective Labor: Past and Present”
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/affective-labor

Jonathan Beller “The Digital Ideology”
http://www.slideshare.net/guest3a676d/jonathan-beller-digital-ideology-prese
ntation

Chris Kelty “No Fun. Work, Labor, Action in Free Software”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22394057/No-Fun-Slides

Burak Arikan “User Labor”
http://www.slideshare.net/burakarikan/user-labor-presentation-digital-labor-
conference-new-school-ny

Jonathan Zittrain “Minds for Sale”
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/ubicomp

David Golumbia “The Digital Securitization of Labor”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22440260/The-Digital-Securitization-of-Labor

Alex Halavais “Factory Schools”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtnZC4bmsho

Frank Pasquale “Distributive Justice Online”
http://www.slideshare.net/FrankPasq/pasquale-distributive-justice-online

Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott “No Matter”
http://www.slideshare.net/skildall/no-matter-digital-labor-v1

James Grimmelman “The Ethical Vision(s) of Copyright Law”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22393902/Ethical-Visions

Ellen Goodman “Public Media: From Broadcast to Broadband”
http://www.slideshare.net/trebor/public-media

Pat Kane “The Play Ethic: Play, Potentiality and the Constitution of the
Net”
http://www.slideshare.net/theplayethic/play-potentiality-and-the-constitutio
n-of-the-net-pat-kane-at-wwwdigitallabororg?src=embed

TwitVid of Howard Rheingold’s Presentation
http://www.twitvid.com/3CCF9

Brian Holmes “Global Finance, Precarious Destinies”
http://brianholmes.wordpress.com/2009/11/06/is-it-written-in-the-stars
(This is not Holmes’ talk at IPF but a related blog post.)

Jesse Drew “Work and Play from the Factory to the Brave New Workplace”
http://www.slideshare.net/jessedrew/jesse-drew-presentation

Geoff Cox “Software Art-Work For-Itself”
http://www.slideshare.net/geoffcox/software-artwork-foritself

Luis Nunez “1989: the Wall and the Web ? Body, and the Tyranny of
Connectivity”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22453088

Robert Mitchell “Ends and Means: Digital Labor in the Context of Health”
http://www.slideshare.net/rmitch/mitchell-internet-play-nov2008

Abigail De Kosnik “Fan Labor as Paid Labor?”
http://www.slideshare.net/gaildekosnik/fan-labor-as-paid-labor

Julian K?cklich “Work Hard, Play Harder. Labour, Plabor, and the Ideology of
Play”
http://www.slideshare.net/cucchiaio/playbour

Lilly Irani “Agency and Exploitation in Amazon Mechanical Turk”
http://www.slideshare.net/lirani/agency-and-exploitation-in-amazon-mechanica
l-turk

Kenneth Rogers “Capital Implications Part II: From Labor to Human Capital”
http://www.slideshare.net/dinermode/capital-implications-part-ii-from-labor-
to-human-capital

Martin Roberts “Productivity Is Fun”
http://www.slideshare.net/mroberts1/productivity-is-fun?from=email&type=shar
e_slideshow&subtype=slideshow

Brittany Chozinski “Digital Bodies, Digital Labor”
http://www.scribd.com/doc/22392683/Digital-Bodies-Digital-Labor

Hector Postigo “Free Labor and Digital Networks America Online Volunteers”
http://www.mindmeister.com/34640025/free-labor-and-digital-networks-americal
-online-volunteers

Michel Bauwens “The Politics of Peer Production”
http://www.slideshare.net/mbauwens/the-politics-of-peer-production

Paul Hartzog “Panarchy: Politics, Production, and Polycentrism”
http://www.slideshare.net/paulbhartzog/ipf09

Christian Fuchs “Class and Exploitation on the Internet”
http://www.slideshare.net/christianfuchs/class-and-exploitation-on-the-inter
net

====================

We recorded all sessions and streamed some of them. The live streams are
already archived. The rest of the video documentation will be available
soon.

VIRTUAL WORLDS, CIVIL RIGHTS, AND SLAUGHTER
Lisa Nakamura, Alexander Galloway, Timothy Pachirat, Jodi Dean
(moderated by Ferentz Lafargue)
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2548043

EXPROPRIATING LABOR IN VIRTUAL WORLDS
Christiane Paul, Geoff Cox, Stepahnie Rothenberg, Scott Kildall,
Victoria Scott, Thomas Mallaby,
(moderated by Amanda McDonald Crowley)
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2549438

GOVERNANCE IN THE AGE OF VULNERABLE PUBLICS
Laura De Nardis, Jonathan Zittrain, Brian Holmes
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2555329

THE CHANGING SITES OF VALUE CREATION
Melissa Gregg, Orit Halpern, Patricia Clough
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2550676

THE EMANCIPATORY POTENTIAL OF PLAY
Gabriella Coleman, Fred Turner, Chris Kelty, Ben Peters
(moderated by Ted Byfield)
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/2556590

====================

Conference Reports IPF09

Christian Fuchs
“Overall, the conference ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’ has
shown that Critical Internet Studies is alive and well and is a subfield
that is growing in size and importance of the transdiscipline ICTs and
society.
The practical hope for the future is that Internet scholars
will continue to work in the critical spirit that has shaped this
conference and thereby will try to contribute to bring about a
participatory Internet in a participatory society.”
https://lists.thing.net/pipermail/idc/2009-November/004068.html

Patricia Zimmermann
http://www.ithaca.edu/fleff/blogs/digital_spaces/playground_or_factory_confe
rence_on_the_internet_o/

Smart Workers
http://www.smartworkers.net/2009/11/the-internet-as-playground-and-factory/

Report from Prelude Event “Crowdsourcing Labor ? Distributed Democracy or
Centralized Sweatshop?”
http://turbulence.org/blog/2009/11/10/live-stage-crowdsourcing-labor-brookly
n/#more-10332

Tue, November 24 2009 » Futurecinema_2009

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