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149

Estranged Free Labor

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Andrejevic, M. (2012). Estranged Free Labor. In Scholz, T. (ed) Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory. Routledge, pp. 149-164

150

[...] Much of the discussion of online tracking has focused on the fate of privacy and the rights that pertain to it. This is an important set of issues, but it is complicated by the way in which it frames privacy in terms of personal choice (thereby dismissing challenges to the choices made by consumers as patronizing at best and at worst an affront to their personal freedom) and overlooks the way in which their information has become the private property of the commercial entities that do the work of harvesting it. It also tends to invoke the counterargument that there is little need for concern since many forms of monitoring that take place in interactive contexts are anonymous in the sense that the aggregators and their clients are not particularly interested in the personal identity of those monitored and do not personally inspect the details of their profiles (as if somehow the fact that no one is reading our personal e-mails means that there should be no cause for concern that they are being electronically scanned to determined how best to manipulate us). Privacy, in short, has a tendency to frame the discussion in personal, individual terms.

diss: the problems with thinking in terms of privacy (avoids the political economy implications)

—p.150 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] Much of the discussion of online tracking has focused on the fate of privacy and the rights that pertain to it. This is an important set of issues, but it is complicated by the way in which it frames privacy in terms of personal choice (thereby dismissing challenges to the choices made by consumers as patronizing at best and at worst an affront to their personal freedom) and overlooks the way in which their information has become the private property of the commercial entities that do the work of harvesting it. It also tends to invoke the counterargument that there is little need for concern since many forms of monitoring that take place in interactive contexts are anonymous in the sense that the aggregators and their clients are not particularly interested in the personal identity of those monitored and do not personally inspect the details of their profiles (as if somehow the fact that no one is reading our personal e-mails means that there should be no cause for concern that they are being electronically scanned to determined how best to manipulate us). Privacy, in short, has a tendency to frame the discussion in personal, individual terms.

diss: the problems with thinking in terms of privacy (avoids the political economy implications)

—p.150 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago
150

The ease with which this type of monitoring has insinuated itself into the digital media landscape is breathtaking, perhaps in part because of the novelty of the technology and its applications. The seductions of the convenience and gadgetry of the smartphone far outstrip concerns about its use as a sophisticated and multidimensional monitoring and tracking device. Transposed into a somewhat less novel landscape, the shift might appear more objectionable. The fact is, however, that the current embrace of commercial digital culture amounts to an unprecedented leap in the ability of institutions both public and private to collect, sort, and store information about members of the public. The flashy wizardry of new commercial technologies serves as a form of distraction or misdirection, averting or postponing direct engagement with the fact that we are constructing a culture in which commercial surveillance has become a crucial component of our communicative infrastructure. While the actual effects of this surveillance remain to be seen, it is worth pointing out that in developing a surveillance-based commercial infrastructure, we have effectively wagered on the prospect that it will prove effective in manipulating and channeling consumer behavior.

—p.150 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

The ease with which this type of monitoring has insinuated itself into the digital media landscape is breathtaking, perhaps in part because of the novelty of the technology and its applications. The seductions of the convenience and gadgetry of the smartphone far outstrip concerns about its use as a sophisticated and multidimensional monitoring and tracking device. Transposed into a somewhat less novel landscape, the shift might appear more objectionable. The fact is, however, that the current embrace of commercial digital culture amounts to an unprecedented leap in the ability of institutions both public and private to collect, sort, and store information about members of the public. The flashy wizardry of new commercial technologies serves as a form of distraction or misdirection, averting or postponing direct engagement with the fact that we are constructing a culture in which commercial surveillance has become a crucial component of our communicative infrastructure. While the actual effects of this surveillance remain to be seen, it is worth pointing out that in developing a surveillance-based commercial infrastructure, we have effectively wagered on the prospect that it will prove effective in manipulating and channeling consumer behavior.

—p.150 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago
152

For Ritzer and Jurgensen (2010), the capture of value online represents the extension of the logic of capital into new spaces and temporalities: “it appears that capitalists have found another group of people—beyond workers (producers)—to exploit and a new source of surplus value. In this case, capitalism has merely done what it has always done—found yet another way to expand.” [...]

—p.152 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

For Ritzer and Jurgensen (2010), the capture of value online represents the extension of the logic of capital into new spaces and temporalities: “it appears that capitalists have found another group of people—beyond workers (producers)—to exploit and a new source of surplus value. In this case, capitalism has merely done what it has always done—found yet another way to expand.” [...]

—p.152 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago
155

[...] The privatization and commercialization of the Internet is a form of material deprivation and enclosure insofar as it separates users from the infrastructure that supports their communicative activities. It reinforces and reproduces the structure of social relations wherein a small group controls the productive resources used by the many and allows economic advantages to accrue from this control. The ownership class that includes the founders of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and so on could not exist without capturing and controlling components of the productive infrastructure. The value that they appropriate stems in large part from their ability to capture aspects of the activity of those who access their resources, and their ability to do so is directly related to their ownership and control of these resources. Bluntly put, the ability to exploit this activity for commercial purposes for the economic benefit of the few would disappear if these resources were commonly owned and controlled.

—p.155 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] The privatization and commercialization of the Internet is a form of material deprivation and enclosure insofar as it separates users from the infrastructure that supports their communicative activities. It reinforces and reproduces the structure of social relations wherein a small group controls the productive resources used by the many and allows economic advantages to accrue from this control. The ownership class that includes the founders of Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and so on could not exist without capturing and controlling components of the productive infrastructure. The value that they appropriate stems in large part from their ability to capture aspects of the activity of those who access their resources, and their ability to do so is directly related to their ownership and control of these resources. Bluntly put, the ability to exploit this activity for commercial purposes for the economic benefit of the few would disappear if these resources were commonly owned and controlled.

—p.155 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago
157

[...] the privatization and commercialization of much of the digital media infrastructure does not take place by force, but merely reproduces existing property relations by extending them into the digital realm. The background of compulsion is built into the legal structure and regulatory regimes that enable the privatization process. [...]

this is good and important

—p.157 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] the privatization and commercialization of much of the digital media infrastructure does not take place by force, but merely reproduces existing property relations by extending them into the digital realm. The background of compulsion is built into the legal structure and regulatory regimes that enable the privatization process. [...]

this is good and important

—p.157 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago
161

Privacy-based critiques do not quite capture the element of productive power and control at work in the promise of monitoring-based marketing. If privacy violations constitute an invasion—a loss of control over the process of self-disclosure— market monitoring includes an additional element of control and management: the systematic use of personal information to predict and influence. The critique of exploitation addresses this element of power and control. Defenders of market monitoring will argue that individual consumer behavior remains uncoerced. Critical approaches, however, locate coercion not solely at the level of discrete individual decisions, but also in the social relations that structure them. In this regard, the invocation of the notion of exploitation parallels Jonathan Beller’s claim in his contribution to this volume that, “an interest in labor should force us to rethink the logistics of media platforms and see them as technologies formed in the struggle between labor and capital and thus by and for the expropriation of labor.”

—p.161 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago

Privacy-based critiques do not quite capture the element of productive power and control at work in the promise of monitoring-based marketing. If privacy violations constitute an invasion—a loss of control over the process of self-disclosure— market monitoring includes an additional element of control and management: the systematic use of personal information to predict and influence. The critique of exploitation addresses this element of power and control. Defenders of market monitoring will argue that individual consumer behavior remains uncoerced. Critical approaches, however, locate coercion not solely at the level of discrete individual decisions, but also in the social relations that structure them. In this regard, the invocation of the notion of exploitation parallels Jonathan Beller’s claim in his contribution to this volume that, “an interest in labor should force us to rethink the logistics of media platforms and see them as technologies formed in the struggle between labor and capital and thus by and for the expropriation of labor.”

—p.161 by Mark Andrejevic 4 months, 1 week ago