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

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