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39

For Love or Money

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Taylor, A. (2014). For Love or Money. In Taylor, A. The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Fourth Estate, pp. 39-67

46

The professions, as many others have observed, have served as a kind of “class fortress,” excluding talented, motivated people in service of monopolistic self-preservation. (“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution” is known in tech circles as the Shirky principle.) [...]

extremely true of tech too tho lmao

—p.46 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

The professions, as many others have observed, have served as a kind of “class fortress,” excluding talented, motivated people in service of monopolistic self-preservation. (“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution” is known in tech circles as the Shirky principle.) [...]

extremely true of tech too tho lmao

—p.46 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
49

The corollary of Benkler’s and Shirky’s argument is that only those who despise their work deserve to be paid for their efforts. It’s worth pointing out that these men—despite their enthusiasm for social production—release their books with conventional publishers and hold positions at elite academic institutions. Surely they do not believe their work as professional writers, researchers, and teachers is suspect because they were compensated. There is a note of truth in the idea that adversity fuels creativity, but when reduced to an economic truism—a decline in industry profitability won’t hurt artistic production because artists will work for beer—the notion rings not just hollow but obscene.

lol

—p.49 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

The corollary of Benkler’s and Shirky’s argument is that only those who despise their work deserve to be paid for their efforts. It’s worth pointing out that these men—despite their enthusiasm for social production—release their books with conventional publishers and hold positions at elite academic institutions. Surely they do not believe their work as professional writers, researchers, and teachers is suspect because they were compensated. There is a note of truth in the idea that adversity fuels creativity, but when reduced to an economic truism—a decline in industry profitability won’t hurt artistic production because artists will work for beer—the notion rings not just hollow but obscene.

lol

—p.49 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
50

Yet the challenge of maintaining oneself in a world of money is hardly a problem unique to the creatively inclined. This dilemma may not trouble those who choose to pursue wealth above all else, but most people seek work that feeds both the spirit and the belly. Likewise, the cultural realm is not the only sphere in which some essential part cannot be bought or sold. Teaching, therapy, medicine, science, architecture, design, even politics and law when practiced to serve the public good—certainly the gift operates within these fields as well. The gift can even be detected in supposedly menial jobs where people, in good faith, do far more than meager wages require of them. Creative people are not the only ones who struggle desperately to balance the contradictory demands of the gift and the market. But culture is the domain where this quandary is often most visible and acknowledged. Culture is one stage on which we play out our anxieties about the impact of market values on our inner lives. As we transition to a digital age, this anxiety is in full view.

imo this is less about culture (at least in the plausible variant of the argument she's addressing) and more about marginal cost. think about it more tho

—p.50 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

Yet the challenge of maintaining oneself in a world of money is hardly a problem unique to the creatively inclined. This dilemma may not trouble those who choose to pursue wealth above all else, but most people seek work that feeds both the spirit and the belly. Likewise, the cultural realm is not the only sphere in which some essential part cannot be bought or sold. Teaching, therapy, medicine, science, architecture, design, even politics and law when practiced to serve the public good—certainly the gift operates within these fields as well. The gift can even be detected in supposedly menial jobs where people, in good faith, do far more than meager wages require of them. Creative people are not the only ones who struggle desperately to balance the contradictory demands of the gift and the market. But culture is the domain where this quandary is often most visible and acknowledged. Culture is one stage on which we play out our anxieties about the impact of market values on our inner lives. As we transition to a digital age, this anxiety is in full view.

imo this is less about culture (at least in the plausible variant of the argument she's addressing) and more about marginal cost. think about it more tho

—p.50 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
55

[...] By 1972 blue-collar workers were fed up, too, with wildcat strikers at auto factories protesting the monotony of the assembly line. The advances of technology did not, in the end, liberate the worker from drudgery but rather further empowered those who owned the machines. By the end of the 1970s, as former labor secretary Robert Reich explains,

a wave of new technologies (air cargo, container ships and terminals, satellite communications and, later, the Internet) had radically reduced the costs of outsourcing jobs abroad. Other new technologies (automated machinery, computers, and ever more sophisticated software applications) took over many other jobs (remember bank tellers? telephone operators? service station attendants?). By the ’80s, any job requiring that the same steps be performed repeatedly was disappearing—going over there or into software.

—p.55 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

[...] By 1972 blue-collar workers were fed up, too, with wildcat strikers at auto factories protesting the monotony of the assembly line. The advances of technology did not, in the end, liberate the worker from drudgery but rather further empowered those who owned the machines. By the end of the 1970s, as former labor secretary Robert Reich explains,

a wave of new technologies (air cargo, container ships and terminals, satellite communications and, later, the Internet) had radically reduced the costs of outsourcing jobs abroad. Other new technologies (automated machinery, computers, and ever more sophisticated software applications) took over many other jobs (remember bank tellers? telephone operators? service station attendants?). By the ’80s, any job requiring that the same steps be performed repeatedly was disappearing—going over there or into software.

—p.55 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
60

In Ribot’s field this means the more uncertain part of the business—the actual writing, recording, and promoting of music—is increasingly “outsourced” to individuals while big companies dominate arenas that are more likely to be profitable, like concert sales and distribution (Ticketmaster, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play, none of which invests in music but reaps rewards from its release). “That technological change is upon us is undeniable and irreversible,” Ribot wrote about the challenges musicians face as a consequence of digitization. “It will probably not spell the end of music as a commodity, although it may change drastically who is profiting off whose music. Whether these changes will create a positive future for producers or consumers of music depends on whether musicians can organize the legal and collective struggle necessary to ensure that those who profit off music in any form pay the people who make it.”

quoting Marc Ribot, NY-based jazz musician

—p.60 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

In Ribot’s field this means the more uncertain part of the business—the actual writing, recording, and promoting of music—is increasingly “outsourced” to individuals while big companies dominate arenas that are more likely to be profitable, like concert sales and distribution (Ticketmaster, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play, none of which invests in music but reaps rewards from its release). “That technological change is upon us is undeniable and irreversible,” Ribot wrote about the challenges musicians face as a consequence of digitization. “It will probably not spell the end of music as a commodity, although it may change drastically who is profiting off whose music. Whether these changes will create a positive future for producers or consumers of music depends on whether musicians can organize the legal and collective struggle necessary to ensure that those who profit off music in any form pay the people who make it.”

quoting Marc Ribot, NY-based jazz musician

—p.60 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
65

Instead of devising truly liberating ways to harness machines to remake the economy, whether by designing satisfying jobs or through the social provision of a basic income to everyone regardless of work status, we have Amazon employees toiling on the warehouse floor for eleven dollars an hour and Google contract workers who get fired after a year so they don’t have to be brought on full-time. Cutting-edge new-media companies valued in the tens of billions retain employees numbering in the lowly thousands, and everyone else is out of luck. At the same time, they hoard their record-setting profits, sitting on mountains of cash instead of investing it in ways that would benefit us all.

very impressed that Astra Taylor was writing about this stuff when i was basically still a babby

—p.65 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

Instead of devising truly liberating ways to harness machines to remake the economy, whether by designing satisfying jobs or through the social provision of a basic income to everyone regardless of work status, we have Amazon employees toiling on the warehouse floor for eleven dollars an hour and Google contract workers who get fired after a year so they don’t have to be brought on full-time. Cutting-edge new-media companies valued in the tens of billions retain employees numbering in the lowly thousands, and everyone else is out of luck. At the same time, they hoard their record-setting profits, sitting on mountains of cash instead of investing it in ways that would benefit us all.

very impressed that Astra Taylor was writing about this stuff when i was basically still a babby

—p.65 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago
66

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. “In part, the blame falls on the corporate elite,” Barbara Ehrenreich wrote back in 1989, “which demands ever more bankers and lawyers, on the one hand, and low-paid helots on the other.” These low-paid helots are now unpaid interns and networked amateurs. The rub is that over the intervening years we have somehow deceived ourselves into believing that this state of insecurity and inequity is a form of liberation.

—p.66 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago

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. “In part, the blame falls on the corporate elite,” Barbara Ehrenreich wrote back in 1989, “which demands ever more bankers and lawyers, on the one hand, and low-paid helots on the other.” These low-paid helots are now unpaid interns and networked amateurs. The rub is that over the intervening years we have somehow deceived ourselves into believing that this state of insecurity and inequity is a form of liberation.

—p.66 by Astra Taylor 10 months, 1 week ago