Users Like You? Theorizing Agency in User-Generated Content

ArticleinMedia Culture & Society 31(1):41-58 · January 2009with 1,073 Reads
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Abstract
With the emergence of user-generated content platforms, 'users' are typically referred to as active, engaged and creative contributors of content, as illustrated by new hybrid terms such as 'produsers' or 'co-creators'. This article explores user agency as a complex concept, involving not only the user's cultural role as a facilitator of civic engagement and participation` but also his economic meaning as a producer, consumer and data provider, as well as his volatile position as volunteer or aspiring professional in the emerging labour market. We need such a multidisciplinary approach to user agency if we want to understand how socio-economic and technological transformations affect the recent shake-up in power relationships between media companies. advertisers and users. Video-sharing site YouTube serves as a case study. The 'you' in YouTube not only refers to content creators, but also to data providers whose profiled information is capitalized by site owners. Commercialization of user-generated platforms and incorporation of self-produced content in digital environments powered by Google render user agency even more complex.

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    Gamified news is a clear example of contemporary convergent practices which conflate the functionalities of formerly separate entities, video games and journalism. This practice marks a shift in the journalistic norms, positioning journalism and news users within the neoliberal paradigm. In this view, the study proposes a discursive approach to examine how gamified news discourse is colonized by the neoliberal values of marketization and commodification. The analysis takes a case study of Pirate Fishing: An Interactive Investigation, a gamified news launched by Al Jazeera. It is not just the narrative of Pirate that carries ideological bearings, rather the ludic design itself is found to be fit within the neoliberal mentality. Therefore, the ludic semiosis of Pirate Fishing is examined as well. As such, a dialectical relation between discourse, semiotics and neoliberal ideologies, in the context of gamification, is drawn in this article. Based on the analysis, seven interrelated neoliberal discourses are highlighted: ‘calculative rationality’, ‘self-entrepreneurship’, ‘minimalism’, ‘aesthetic preferences’, ‘individualism’, ‘sovereign consumer’ and ‘personal responsibility’.
  • Chapter
    • Fabio Cassia
      Fabio Cassia
    • Francesca Magno
      Francesca Magno
    Despite the rapidly increasing popularity of social media influencers and of influencer marketing, academic and managerial knowledge on this phenomenon is still limited. The purpose of this chapter is to examine to what extent cultural and tourism social media influencers are able to influence their followers' consumption decisions. In particular, the chapter provides new evidence based on data collected among 341 followers of hospitality and tourism bloggers and 208 followers of cultural bloggers in Italy. By comparing the results from the two subsamples, conclusions about the effectiveness of bloggers in the two contexts are drawn. Based on the findings, some avenues for future research and some practical guidelines for social media influencers are suggested.
  • Chapter
    • José Ramón Saura
      José Ramón Saura
    • Pedro R. Palos-Sanchez
      Pedro R. Palos-Sanchez
    • Del Río Rama
      Del Río Rama
    There are currently many technologies that are changing all types of professional ecosystems around the world. New technologies and business models based on the internet are producing the evolution of the tourism sector towards Digital Tourism, which uses innovation and the interconnection of products and services. The research aim of this study is to identify the main technologies and business models that are transforming the tourism sector into the new digital ecosystem. The trends that will influence the future of Digital Tourism can then be identified. To do this, an original approach is proposed, using textual analysis with data mining and visual data mining techniques with the User Generated Content (UGC) on the Twitter social network. The sample consisted of n = 25.434 tweets downloaded from the Twitter API with the hashtags #DigitalTourism and #Tourism. These were used to get insights and knowledge about the digital tourism industry using the technological innovations in the sector. The results of the research showed the main technologies and business models in the Digital Tourism sector, as well as the trends and future applications for the digital tourism sector. This research fills a gap in the existing research by using data mining techniques to obtain insights and knowledge from UGC about the Digital Tourism industry.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Gülşah Başlar
      Gülşah Başlar
    • Selin Tüzün Ateşalp
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Marcelo Luis Barbosa Santos
      Marcelo Luis Barbosa Santos
    • Antoine Faure
      Antoine Faure
    The present study analyses critically the roll-out of the end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, supported by Affordances Theory, guided by the “platform biography” framework that points to a historical perspective of the App. After pointing out the contradictions with evidences from the empirical work, we conclude that the implementation of such affordance should be interpreted as a strategic move inscribed in: (i) a guerrilla Public Relations war between WhatsApp Inc. against national states in which is revealed (ii) a power move by the digital media corporation to avoid political conflicts with them and that (iii) a cost-benefit approach leads to the prevalence of commercial massiveness at the expense of technological utopia.
  • Article
    • Santi Urrutia
    • Begoña Zalbidea
    • Idoia Camacho
    • Jose Mari Pastor
    This study examines whether the frequent discrepancy between publishers and audiences over the news that interests them – the former preferring hard news, the latter soft news – is repeated on social networks. Based on a sample of 8,000 news stories uploaded to a Spanish-language news aggregator over 10 years (2006–2015), the number of hard, soft and general news stories published on its front page was calculated. In addition, the news stories that received the most votes, comments and visits were analysed, and correlations were sought among these three variables. The results show that users mainly chose hard news when voting (50.2%), followed by soft news (30.9%) and general news (18.9%). This was in sharp contrast to the results found for news consumption, where visitors access soft news much more than hard news. The investigation offers some clues about the extent to which the disparity of interests between journalists and readers facing news poses a real problem, and it also provides a new outlook on how editors can deal with audiences.
  • Chapter
    • Matthias Korn
    • Wolfgang Reißmann
    • Tobias Röhl
    • David Sittler
    This volume focuses on the ongoing accomplishments entailed in the mutual making of infrastructures and publics. In doing so, it reframes the relation of publics and infrastructures as praxeological, exploring them from two different angles: (1) When, under which conditions and by what means are publics cooperatively produced, practically embedded and socio-technically infrastructured? (2) When, under which circumstances and how are infrastructures perceived as such, being debated in various publics, critically and explicitly examined for how they are used, shaped and which effects they have? These questions imply a reconception of the traditional understanding of both the public realm and infrastructures. Rather than as different fields or systems, we have to treat them as intertwined aspects of socio-technical organisation and study them through a practice theory lens.
  • Conference Paper
    • A. Goryachev
    • Elena Yu. Karmalova
    • K. Kiuru
    • E. Peskova
  • Conference Paper
    Full-text available
    • Mathias Felipe de Lima Santos
      Mathias Felipe de Lima Santos
    • Mathias Felipe
    • Ruiqi Zhou
      Ruiqi Zhou
    Fake news became a buzzword especially after the 2016 U.S. election leaving the concern of what is circulated on social media (Allcott&Gentzkow, 2017). The business model implemented by the traditional news outlets was based on a print revenue stream, where their main profit came from the advertising. With the Internet, the legacy publishers were forced into the online business environment where information was easily accessible yet no clear revenue model implemented (Teece,2010). Inspired by HuffPost, BuzzFeed gained its audience producing viral entertainment content. Without banner and video pre-roll ads, BuzzFeed created a unique business model, which has a socially inspired sharing and interaction strategy. "In the face of the continuously changing challenges of the digital age, it is difficult for quality news journalism to survive on any significant scale if a means for adequately funding it is not available" (Anderson et.al.,2013). To set foot into quality content, BuzzFeed started to produce investigative and data stories. Peretti's latest multi-revenue streams report offered a sustainable model and broke the rumor of axing BuzzFeed News. To combat misleading information and fake news, BuzzFeed produces information that has a public interest, as it plays a crucial role in ensuring that citizens are well informed. As Peretti states "[i]f you are thinking about an electorate, the subscription model in media doesn't support the broad public" (Roettgers,2017). With the aim to analyze the importance of BuzzFeed's business model, as a source of public good and yet still under-researched case, the paper focuses on understanding how the business model evolved and is contributing to the search for a sustainable business model in the industry. By in-depth empirical research, this paper studies the role of BuzzFeed as a source of public good and three business models' evolution that formed up new ways to engage the audience. BuzzFeed has shown how being innovative and technology-driven can help news and media industry to survive their big competitors. Finally, the paper concludes with an agenda for perspectives in the journalism industry.
  • Participative Web: User-generated Content, OECD Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy reportPlayful Multitude? Mobilising and Counter-Mobilising Immaterial Game Labour The Experience Economy
    • J Moran
    Moran, J. (2002) There's No Place Like Home Video. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2007) Participative Web: User-generated Content, OECD Committee for Information, Computer and Communications Policy report, April, URL (consulted July 2007): http://www.oecd.org/home Peuter, G. de and N. Dyer Witheford (2005) 'Playful Multitude? Mobilising and Counter-Mobilising Immaterial Game Labour', Fibreculture 5, URL (consulted June 2007): http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue5/depeuter_dyerwitheford.html Pine, B. J. and J. H. Gilmore (1999) The Experience Economy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • What's the 1% Rule?', The Guardian (Technology sectionBrands: A Critical Perspective
    • C A Arthur
    Arthur, C. (2006) 'What's the 1% Rule?', The Guardian (Technology section) 20 July, URL (consulted September 2008): http://technology.guardian.co.uk/weekly/ story/0,,1823959,00.html Arvidsson, A. (2005) 'Brands: A Critical Perspective', Journal of Consumer Culture 5(2): 235–58.
  • The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our CultureProdusage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-led Content Creation', paper presented at
    • R Barbrook
    • J Batelle
    Barbrook, R. (2002) 'The High-tech Gift Economy', First Monday, URL (consulted July 2007): http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3_12/barbrook/ Batelle, J. (2005) The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed our Culture. New York: Penguin. Bruns, A. (2007) 'Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-led Content Creation', paper presented at Creativity and Cognition 6, 13–15 June, URL (con-sulted June 2007): http://snurb.info/files/ Brunsdon, C. and D. Morley (1978) Everyday Television: 'Nationwide'. London: British Film Institute.
  • Television and the Public Sphere: Citizenship, Democracy, and the Media
    • P Dahlgren
    Dahlgren, P. (1995) Television and the Public Sphere: Citizenship, Democracy, and the Media. London: SAGE.
  • The Cult of the Amateur: How the Democratization of the Digital World is Assaulting Our Economy, Our Culture, and Our Values
    • A Keen
    Keen, A. (2007) The Cult of the Amateur: How the Democratization of the Digital World is Assaulting Our Economy, Our Culture, and Our Values. New York: Doubleday Currency.
  • Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination
    • S Douglas
    Douglas, S. (1999) Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination. New York: Random.
  • The Third WaveThe Googlization of Everything and the Future of Copyright
    • A Toffler
    Toffler, A. (1981) The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Vaidhyanathan, S. (2007) 'The Googlization of Everything and the Future of Copyright', UC Davis Law Review 40(3): 1207–33.
  • Online Auteurs Hardly Have to be Famous', New York Times 13 MarchNarrowcasting in the New World Information Order: A Space for Audience
    • R Siklos
    • B Smith-Shomade
    Siklos, R. (2006) 'Online Auteurs Hardly Have to be Famous', New York Times 13 March. Smith-Shomade, B. (2004) 'Narrowcasting in the New World Information Order: A Space for Audience?', Television and New Media 5(1): 69–81.
  • Understanding the Design of Mobile Social Networking: The Example of EzMoBo in Taiwan URL (consulted We Think: Why Mass Creativity is the Next Big Thing. Online publication, URL (consulted Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
    • C.-H Lai
    Lai, C.-H. (2007) 'Understanding the Design of Mobile Social Networking: The Example of EzMoBo in Taiwan', M/C Journal 10(1), URL (consulted July 2007): http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0703/08-lai.php Leadbeater, C. (2007) We Think: Why Mass Creativity is the Next Big Thing. Online publication, URL (consulted July 2007): http://www.wethinkthebook.net/ cms/site/docs/charles%20full%20draft.pdf Lessig, L. (2004) Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity. New York: Penguin.
  • It Should Happen to You: The Anxieties of YouTube Fame', New Yorker 13 October, URL Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
    • B Mcgrath
    McGrath, B. (2006) 'It Should Happen to You: The Anxieties of YouTube Fame', New Yorker 13 October, URL (consulted September 2008): http://www.newyorker.com/ archive/2006/10/16/061016fa_fact McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Article
    • Max. Henninger
    One of the founding fathers of Italian "workerism," Antonio Negri was associated with the Marxist extra-parliamentary organization Potere operaio [Workers' Power] during the 1960s and with the Italian autonomist movement during the 1970s. He was imprisoned on political charges from 1979 to 1983 and from 1997 to 2003. Between 1983 and 1997, Negri lived in exile in Paris, where he continues to hold a university lectureship. In the Anglophone world, Negri is best known for his collaborative work with Michael Hardt, in particular for their theory of capitalist globalization, developed in Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000) and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (London and New York: Penguin Press, 2004). "Empire" is the term coined by Negri and Hardt to describe the flexible, transnational form of sovereignty that develops contemporarily with the shift from Fordism to post-Fordism. Hardt and Negri re-introduce the concept of the "multitude"—taken from the seventeenth-century political philosophy of Hobbes, Spinoza, and others—in order to designate the collective subject that labors and struggles under Empire's global regime of exploitation. In exploring the transformations of art and culture in the age of Empire, the essay translated below touches on many of the central themes of Negri's recent work. A prime example of Negri's capacity for theoretical synthesis, the essay surveys the economic, political, and cultural developments of the past decades in order to trace them to the anthropological and ontological transformation that accompanies the transition from the system of Fordist nation-states to Empire. Negri invokes a wide range of conceptual apparatuses—from Spinoza's ontology to the theory of space developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus – in order to reverse Adorno and Horkheimer's vision of capital's all-encompassing dominion and to argue for the autonomy and creativity of the multitude. Max Henninger (MA, PhD) lives in Berlin and works as a translator. He is the German translator of Italian novelist and poet Nanni Balestrini. His critique of Antonio Negri's theory of post-Fordism is forthcoming in the online journal Ephemera.
  • Article
    • Antoine Hennion
      Antoine Hennion
    The idea of reflexivity has much to offer to the analysis of taste - but reflexivity in its ancient sense, a form neither active nor passive, pointing to an originary state where things, persons, and events have just arrived, with no action, subject or objects yet decided. Objects of taste are not present, inert, available and at our service.They give themselves up, they shy away, they impose themselves. ‘Amateurs’ do not believe things have taste. On the contrary, they make themselves detect them, through a continuous elaboration of procedures that put taste to the test. Understood as reflexive work performed on one’s own attachments, the amateur’s taste is no longer considered (as with so-called ‘critical’ sociology) an arbitrary election which has to be explained by hidden social causes. Rather, it is a collective technique, whose analysis helps us to understand the ways we make ourselves sensitized, to things, to ourselves, to situations and to moments, while simultaneously controlling how those feelings might be shared and discussed with others.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Adam Arvidsson
      Adam Arvidsson
    This article proposes a critical perspectives on brands based on recent developments within Marxist thought. It argues that brands build on the immaterial labour of consumers: their ability to create an ethical surplus (a social bond, a shared experience, a common identity) through productive communication. This labour is generally free in the sense that it is both un-paid and more or less autonomous. Contemporary brand management consists in a series of techniques by means of which such free labor is managed so that it comes to produce desirable and valuable outcomes. By thus making productive communication unfold on the plateau of brands, the enhanced ability of the contemporary multitude to produce a common social world is exploited as a source of surplus value.
  • Mapping Participation in Activities Forms the Foundation of a Social Strategy', Social Technographics Trends Report, Forrester Research Inc. URL (paid content accessThe Challenge of Changing Audiences
    • C Li
    Li, C. (2007) 'Mapping Participation in Activities Forms the Foundation of a Social Strategy', Social Technographics Trends Report, Forrester Research Inc. URL (paid content access, consulted May 2007): www.forrester.com/go?docid=42057 Livingstone, S. (2004) 'The Challenge of Changing Audiences', European Journal of Communication 19(1): 75–86.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Mark Deuze
      Mark Deuze
    • This article maps the emerging practices in media professions like journalism, advertising, marketing communications and public relations in adapting to a new global environment, characterized by an increasingly participatory media culture. Among creatives and brand managers in ad agencies `interactive advertising' is at the center of the contemporary buzz. Marketers in the cultural industries brainstorm about the potential of upstream marketing, while in public relations the opportunities of two-way symmetrical communication are explored. Editors of news publications increasingly jump on the `citizen journalism' bandwagon. All these trends are part of the same phenomenon: a convergence of the cultures of media production and consumption. In this essay, these developments are discussed in terms of their potential impact on consensual assumptions about the nature of media work, seen through the lens of the combination of individual creativity and mass production, also known as creative industries. •
  • Article
    • C.K. Prahalad
    • Venkat Ramaswamy
    The traditional system of company-centric value creation (that has served us so well over the past 100 years) is becoming obsolete. Leaders now need a new frame of reference for value creation. In the emergent economy, competition will center on personalized co-creation experiences, resulting in value that is truly unique to each individual. The authors see a new frontier in value creation emerging, replete with fresh opportunities. In this new frontier the role of the consumer has changed from isolated to connected, from unaware to informed, from passive to active. As a result, companies can no longer act autonomously, designing products, developing production processes, crafting marketing messages, and controlling sales channels with little or no interference from consumers. Armed with new tools and dissatisfied with available choices, consumers want to interact with firms and thereby co-create value. The use of interaction as a basis for co-creation is at the crux of our emerging reality. The co-creation experience of the consumer becomes the very basis of value. The authors offer a DART model for managing co-creation of value processes.
  • Article
    • James Caufield
    : Google's extraordinary success is usually attributed to innovative technology and new business models. By contrast, this paper argues that Google's success is mostly due to its adoption of certain library values. First, Google has refused to adopt the standard practices of the search engine business, practices that compromised service to the user for the sake of immediate corporate profit. Instead, Google has implemented many policies and design principles that correlate directly to established library values. Second, Google has implemented systems that replicate (or substitute for) valuable library functions. With these steps Google has introduced some traditional library practices and values to the Internet environment, and there can be little doubt that they have contributed enormously to its success.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Tarleton Gillespie
      Tarleton Gillespie
    Recently, the major US music and movie companies have pursued a dramatic renovation in their approach to copyright enforcement. This shift, from the code' of law to the code' of software, looks to technologies themselves to regulate or make unavailable those uses of content traditionally handled through law. Critics worry about the compliance' rules built into such systems: design mandates for manufacturers indicating what users can and cannot do under particular conditions. But these are accompanied by a second set of limitations: robustness' rules. Robustness rules obligate manufacturers to build devices such that they prevent tinkering - not only must the technology regulate its users, it must be inscrutable to them. This article examines this aspect of technical copyright regulation, looking particularly at the Content Scramble System (CSS) encryption system for DVDs and the recent broadcast flag' proposed for digital television. In the name of preventing piracy, these arrangements threaten to undermine users' sense of agency with their own technologies.
  • Book
    • James S. Ettema
    • D . Charles Whitney
  • Chapter
    • Don Tapscott
    • Anthony Williams
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Lincoln Dahlberg
      Lincoln Dahlberg
    Deliberative democratic public sphere theory has become increasingly popular in Internet-democracy research and commentary. In terms of informal civic practices, advocates of this theory see the Internet as a means for the expansion of citizen deliberation leading to the formation of rational public opinion through which official decision makers can be held accountable. In this paper I question this public sphere conception as a democratic norm of Internet practice given that there have been sustained critiques of the deliberative conception for failing to account fully for power, and thus for supporting status quo social and political systems. I examine these claims and argue that while the deliberative conception actually pays more attention to power than some critics argue, it fails to adequately theorize the power relations involved in defining what counts as legitimate deliberation. Drawing upon post-Marxist discourse theory, I highlight two inter-related factors that are largely ignored in this boundary setting: discursive radicalism and inter-discursive conflict. I argue that to fully account for these two factors we can refer to an agonistic public sphere position that is also being drawn upon in Internet-democracy research and commentary. In particular, the concept counter-publics, which is deployed in such work, helps us take into account the democratic role of radical exclusion and associated counter-discursive struggles over the limits of legitimate deliberation. The result is the radicalization of the public sphere conception.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • David Hesmondhalgh
      David Hesmondhalgh
    This article evaluates Bourdieu’s analysis of cultural production in terms of its effectiveness for understanding contemporary media production. I begin by outlining the main features of Bourdieu’s work on cultural production, with an emphasis on the potential advantages of his historical account over other, competing work. In particular, I stress the importance of his historical account of ‘autonomy’ and of the emphasis on the interconnectedness of the field of cultural production with other social fields. I then draw attention to two major problems in the work of Bourdieu and others who have adopted his ‘field theory’ for the media: first, that he offered only occasional and fragmented analyses of ‘large-scale’, ‘heteronomous’ (to use his terms) commercial media production, in spite of its enormous social and cultural importance in the contemporary world; second, that Bourdieu and his key associates provide only a very limited account of the relationships between cultural production and cultural consumption. In this latter context, I briefly discuss recent debates in cultural studies about cultural intermediaries. I refer to examples from recent media production to provide evidence for my arguments. The article argues that, as practised so far, Bourdieu’s field theory is only of limited value in analysing media production. However I close by discussing the potential fruitfulness of research based on a dialogue between, on the one hand, field theory’s analysis of cultural production and, on the other, Anglo-American media and cultural studies work on media production.
  • Article
    • José Van Dijck
      José Van Dijck
    Many people deploy photo media tools to document everyday events and rituals. For generations we have stored memories in albums, diaries, and shoeboxes to retrieve at a later moment in life. Autobiographical memory, its tools, and its objects are pressing concerns in most people’s everyday lives, and recent digital transformation cause many to reflect on the value and meaning of their own “mediated memories.” Digital photo cameras, camcorders, and multimedia computers are rapidly replacing analogue equipment, inevitably changing our everyday routines and conventional forms of recollection. How will digital photographs, lifelogs, photoblogs, webcams, or playlists change our personal remembrance of things past? And how will they affect our cultural memory? The main focus of this study is the ways in which (old and new) media technologies shape acts of memory and individual remembrances. This book spotlights familiar objects but addresses the larger issues of how technology penetrates our intimate routines and emotive processes, how it affects the relationship between private and public, memory and experience, self and others.
  • Article
    • Tiziana Terranova
    Social Text 18.2 (2000) 33-58 --Karl Marx, Grundrisse Working in the digital media industry is not as much fun as it is made out to be. The "NetSlaves" of the eponymous Webzine are becoming increasingly vociferous about the shamelessly exploitative nature of the job, its punishing work rhythms, and its ruthless casualization (www.dis-obey.com/netslaves). They talk about "24-7 electronic sweatshops" and complain about the ninety-hour weeks and the "moronic management of new media companies." In early 1999, seven of the fifteen thousand "volunteers" of America Online (AOL) rocked the info-loveboat by asking the Department of Labor to investigate whether AOL owes them back wages for the years of playing chathosts for free. They used to work long hours and love it; now they are starting to feel the pain of being burned by digital media. These events point to a necessary backlash against the glamorization of digital labor, which highlights its continuities with the modern sweatshop and points to the increasing degradation of knowledge work. Yet the question of labor in a "digital economy" is not so easily dismissed as an innovative development of the familiar logic of capitalist exploitation. The NetSlaves are not simply a typical form of labor on the Internet; they also embody a complex relation to labor that is widespread in late capitalist societies. In this essay I understand this relationship as a provision of "free labor," a trait of the cultural economy at large, and an important, and yet undervalued, force in advanced capitalist societies. By looking at the Internet as a specific instance of the fundamental role played by free labor, this essay also tries to highlight the connections between the "digital economy" and what the Italian autonomists have called the "social factory." The "social factory" describes a process whereby "work processes have shifted from the factory to society, thereby setting in motion a truly complex machine." Simultaneously voluntarily given and unwaged, enjoyed and exploited, free labor on the Net includes the activity of building Web sites, modifying software packages, reading and participating in mailing lists, and building virtual spaces on MUDs and MOOs. Far from being an "unreal," empty space, the Internet is animated by cultural and technical labor through and through, a continuous production of value that is completely immanent to the flows of the network society at large. Support for this argument, however, is immediately complicated by the recent history of critical theory. How to speak of labor, especially cultural and technical labor, after the demolition job carried out by thirty years of postmodernism? The postmodern socialist feminism of Donna Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" spelled out some of the reasons behind the antipathy of 1980s critical theory for Marxist analyses of labor. Haraway explicitly rejected the humanistic tendencies of theorists who see labor as the "pre-eminently privileged category enabling the Marxist to overcome illusion and find that point of view which is necessary for changing the world." Paul Gilroy similarly expressed his discontent at the inadequacy of Marxist analyses of labor to describe the culture of the descendants of slaves, who value artistic expression as "the means towards both individual self-fashioning and communal liberation." If labor is "the humanizing activity that makes [white] man," then, surely, humanizing labor does not really belong in the age of networked, posthuman intelligence. However, the "informatics of domination" that Haraway describes in the "Manifesto" is certainly preoccupied with the relation between cybernetics, labor, and capital. In the fifteen years since its publication, this triangulation has become even more evident. The expansion of the Internet has given ideological and material support to contemporary trends toward increased flexibility of the workforce, continuous reskilling, freelance work, and the diffusion of practices such as "supplementing" (bringing supplementary work home from the conventional office). Advertising campaigns and business manuals suggest that the Internet is not only a site of disintermediation (embodying the famous death of the middle man, from bookshops to travel agencies to computer stores), but also the means through which a flexible, collective intelligence has come into being. This essay does not seek to offer a judgment on the "effects" of the...
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Robin Mansell
      Robin Mansell
    This article suggests that it is timely to revitalise studies in the tradition of the political economy of media and communications in order to develop a critical and comprehensive analysis of the social and economic dynamics of the production and consumption of new media. Specifically, a coupling of research on mediated communication and on highly situated communities of practice with some strands of research in political economy could shed new light on the way changing power relationships are informing the development and application of new media products and services. There are precedents for this approach in studies of the older media and signs of a greater receptivity to such an approach in some studies of Internet developments and the open source software movement.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    • Sonia Livingstone
      Sonia Livingstone
    Mediated communication is no longer simply or even mainly mass communication (‘from one to many’) but rather the media now facilitate communication among peers (both ‘one to one’ and ‘many to many’). Does this mean that the concept of the audience is obsolete? Or does the growing talk of ‘users’, instead of audiences, fall into the hyperbolic discourse of ‘the new’, neglecting historical continuities and reinventing the wheel of media and communications research? Undoubtedly, the challenge of a moving target, and hence a changing subject matter, faces us all. This article explores the ways in which, although the argument for the active television audience may have been taken as far as possible, new interactive technologies put ordinary people’s interpretative activities at the very centre of media design and use. Hence, it considers how far existing theories and methods for researching audiences can be extended to new media and how far some significant rethinking is required.