Francis Hunger on Immaterial Labor

I’ve been skeptical against the Open Source Software producers community since years, skeptical against this white, middle-class, male students and engineers. For me this user/producer group is a club, which includes those who have enough time resources to create social capital through peer recognition by working on technologically oriented projects. As early technology adopters, the OSS producers community also actively shapes technology (I have to repeat: they are white, middle-class, male). The OSS producers community tested, improved and incorporated all the elements which can be found in Lazzaratos description of immaterial work above: Flat hierarchies, computerized networks, creating products in their leisure time. So the OSS producer is paradigmatic for the current overage of productivity in the countries of fully developed capitalism, which again gets induced into the circuit of production and exploitation.more here:

Michael Bauwens on Immaterial Labor

We live in a political economy that has it exactly backwards.

We believe that our natural world is infinite, and therefore that we can have an economic system based on infinite growth. But since the material world is finite, it is based on pseudo-abundance.

And then we believe that we should introduce artificial scarcities in the world of immaterial production, impeding the free flow of culture and social innovation, which is based on free cooperation, by creating the obstacle of permissions and intellectual property rents protected by the state.

What we need instead is a political economy based on a true notion of scarcity in the material realm, and a realization of abundance in the immaterial realm. Complex innovation needs creative and autonomous workers that are not impeded in their ability to share and learn from each other.

Read more here:

Paul Hertzog comments on Immaterial Labor

There are lots of good ideas surfacing through this discussion on the iDC list. I post here in full his response:

“After reading Sobol and Waxman, I thought I would chime in.  So far, I find this list incredibly useful to my own work and am really enjoying the discussions.  That said, I continue thus….
First, utility is tautological.  If you decide that human beings do things only for utility, then you will always find the utility in any action.  Even suicide can be described as a utilitarian action.

Second, the authentic, and to my mind non-utilitarian, experience of life, has and always will be, beyond theft or co-optation by “the bad guys.”  When I go to coffee with my friend and discuss Aristotle,money goes to those it perhaps shouldn’t (e.g. evil coffee bean slavers).  Nonetheless, the substance of the experience belongs entirely to me and my friend.

My difficulty with the analysis so far in this thread is that I find it to be preoccupied with current online tools rather than abstract concepts.  An alternate attempt might go something like this:

Suppose that every moment of your life were visible, capturable,collatable, analysable, (etc.) to others.  Suppose that EVERY act in your life, that YOU tried to live authentically, was also being used for other purposes by someone else.  How would you live?  The answer, possibly paradox, is that you would ignore it, and in so doing you would live in such a way that anyone who was watching would be incapable of seeing your true life at all.  They would only see your superficial movements, but all the while your inner movement would channel bliss.

The authentic life is ALWAYS a subversion, a resistance, a revolution, against some attempt by someone else to bind it, to bound it, to define it, to constrain it.  To live authentically means to create in each moment something that cannot be taken and used for other purposes because it is necessarily INVISIBLE to those who would attempt such a theft.

Consequently, in my own academic work (i.e. logically), and also in my personal preference (i.e. aesthetically), I prefer to keep my eyes turned towards new forms of subversion, resistance, and revolution enable by new technologies.  To my mind, the really interesting and revolutionary things going on in the world are invisible to those who would oppose them

An important point from Ladner

Stan reponds in the thread just referenced with this

“Trebor’s notions around immaterial labour certainly qualify here — collaborative media do obscure the free labour that goes into them. And also Wikis. Their collaborative veneer disguises the elitist participation in them.”

See Wikinomics discussion on iDC.

Also the discussion on the list about immaterial labor is very critcal as well. It starts in august 07 here: