Digital Labor 1st Edition
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"Almost 20 years since we were promised a new era of creativity, connectivity, and commerce by the rise of the World Wide Web, we are finally able to ask hard questions about how digital ecosystems have affected human capabilities. This book is essential to any effort to make sense of the digital economy and its effects on real people around the world." Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything―and Why We Should Worry
"Internet business models increasingly rely on the uncompensated and crowd-sourced contributions of individuals. This important book brings together leading thinkers to shine a much needed and critical light on what this practice means for the future of markets, freedom, and individual autonomy." Laura DeNardis, author of Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance
"Scholz provides a timely collection on digital labor and the conflation of work and play online...The collection has many strengths. It includes works from scholars at varying ranks and foundational works on digital labor (e.g., essays by Tizania Terranova and Lisa Nakamura). It will prove valuable for cultural critique of new media, for both seasoned and novice scholars, and for those interested in social and political implications of social media, user-generated content, and algorithm-enabled Web technologies."
D Shepherd, CHOICE
'Overall, Digital Labour represents an original set of criticisms of the Internet from an overarching Marxist perspective, making the book valuable reading for scholars and students of media studies, cultural studies and the sociology of technology. It offers unique perspectives on the social implications of new media technologies, and addresses points that have been neglected by more mainstream media scholars since the first critiques of interactive media.' Mohammad Kazeroun, European Journal of Communication
About the Author
Trebor Scholz is Associate Professor of Culture and Media at The New School.
- Publisher : Routledge; 1st edition (October 26, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0415896959
- ISBN-13 : 978-0415896955
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.62 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,378,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This edited collection provides subtle and powerful responses to these questions. It features contributions from some of the world's top critical internet theorists. Editor Trebor Scholz has also taken care to weave the essays into a coherent whole. This collection should shake up how we conceive of the "social contract" prevailing online. If you sympathize with any of the powerful critiques of internet governance by Rebecca Mackinnon, danah boyd, or Susan Crawford, you will find much provocative and helpful material in this book to ground a politico-economic critique of web governance structures. You'll also find acute psychological analysis from Jodi Dean and Mark Andrejevic on the motivations and drives of participants.
I will write more later, but for now: highly, highly recommended.
Scholz asks, "What does it mean to be a digital worker today?" The answers are varied, complex, and subtle. These systems, including the one where you now read this review, and amplified in systems like Facebook, are where involvement with them is a site of value creation. As an Amazon review, I am expending labour, and adding value to Scholz's book (which it deserves) and to Amazon, which has - to over simplify - almost single-handedly destroyed commercial bookstores in North America and made Bezos et al very wealthy. Their wealth derives from the involvement and labour of those such as myself, and your labour expended in reading this review. Our attention, time in our lives which is passing here, is something we won't and can't get back - a precious commodity. This volume explicates a variety of analyses, discontinuities, and intensifications of wealth extraction in the realm of web-based environments of value creation and labour exchange.
The book is divided into four parts: Part I, the Shifting of Labor Markets; Part II, Interrogating Modes of Digital Labor; Part III, the Violence of Participation; Part IV, Organizing Networks in an Age of Vulnerable Publics. Each Part features several essays by some of the leading minds of internet theory. Each contributes its insight to the notion of "Digital Labor", and their organisation is part of what makes this book so worthwhile. All of the essays are extremely good and well worth reading. Length constraints in Amazon prohibit me from discussing each, so I will touch on a few that resonated with me. In each section, the effects of this peculiar labour formation are examined. One of the salient and central features of this labour is the development of unpaid / insanely low paid digital labour.
In part I, this labour is amply discussed in essays by Andrew Ross and Tiziana Terranova. Sean Cubitt argues for radical changes and strategies of resistance for a more sensible, human, and humane future "beyond the tyranny of instrumental reason and cash." This part concludes with McKenzie Wark who suggests that the rhetoric of "gamification" is suboptimal as it contributes to this growing "free labour" condition.
The question of what is the exchange and structure for this digital labour comes to the fore in part two with chapters by Patricia Ticineto Clough, Abigail DeKosnik, and Jodi Dean. In another chapter, Ayhan Aytes discusses online production systems, such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk, and how these new unregulated labour markets, like German Gastarbeiter program, are models of immigration without rights, echoing Sean Cubitt's chapter who notes that the subaltern "were governed without the possibility of governing. Today exclusion of immigrants and refugees, governed by coercive actions in which they have no say (Abizadeh 2008), defines the political", and amplified by Jodi Dean noting the affective economy of labour is paid with convenience; a few grow wealthy while labour receives little in return except "fun". *It is this cross-talk from chapter to chapter that makes this volume resonate.*
Part Two interrogates this Free Labour, and Part Three examines its violence and contradictions. Lisa Makamura's essay on the Racialisation of Labor in the World of Warcraft, where online game currencies are exchanged for real currencies and industries have emerged where people, especially in East Asia, and sometimes prisoners, spend countless hours playing these online games - an echo, a resonance, again, of Cubitt and Aytes - and as this is in the context of a "Game", it echoes Wark's warnings regarding gamification...
Digital Labour concludes in Part IV, bringing theory and vision together. Michel Bauwens investigates where P2P is the ideology of the new cognitive working class. Christian Fuchs brings a Marxist labour analysis to Web 2.0 labour and notes that the conditions of digital labour result in a level of exploitation that is asymptotic to infinity! Ned Rossiter and Soenke Zehle conclude with a critical engagement of the culture of the code and associated technologies - networks of networks - speaking "of organized networks as new institutional forms", that "create ﬁgures of the universal capable of grasping the political dimension of processes of collaborative constitution at an unprecedented scale."
Again, we hear harmonics of the voices in Part One - a strength of this volume is how the ideas in each essay reference others, forming a narrative of the idea of Digital Labor. A clear picture is painted, a text is heard: what digital labour is made of, what forms it economically, politically, affectively, and philosophically, what surrounds it and reproduces it, and the results: infinite exploitation and a promise of organised networks of resistance.
This book is essential to anyone interested in "what's really going on" in the Internet, especially theorists, educators, and informed readers in the subjects of digital media, internet theory and similar topics, who will find this volume valuable as the authors in this volume are some of the foremost thinkers and theorists of internet theory.
Readers of books like "Cognitive Capitalism, Education and Digital Labor" by Peters and Bulut or "Networks Without a Cause" by Geert Lovink will find this book a valuable addition to their archive. "Digital Labor" stand out in the field of internet studies - as much of the discussion regarding the internet is dominated by corporate sales hackery and gee-whiz technophilia on one end, or a kind of apolitical, values-free analytical approach to digital technology on the other. This book puts up with none of that. Every chapter bristles with ethical and political investigations, and as a whole, they form a stringent and blistering critique of the Web 2.0 Internet project and the digital labor that makes it possible.
Read This Book.