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Today's Topics:

   1. Michael Jackson and the death of macrofame (Julian K?cklich)
   2. YouTube and the other kinds of value [was MySpace staff cuts]
      (Jean Burgess)
   3. Re: Fwd: 21st Century (Paul B. Hartzog)
   4. Re: Fwd: 21st Century - (Christiane Robbins)


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 08:36:41 +0100
From: Julian K?cklich <>
Subject: [iDC] Michael Jackson and the death of macrofame
To: Trebor Scholz <>, iDC <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

Hi all,

Trebor asked me to write "a succinct, one paragraph definition of playbour."
Okay, here goes:

If we assume that play is distinct from "ordinary life" (Huizinga), and that
it constitutes an "occasion of pure waste" (Caillois), then playbour is the
re-entry of ordinary life into play, with a concomitant valorization of play
activities. Insofar as life (bios) is always productive, and be it only in
the sense that it produces waste, the extraction of value from play can be
seen as a form of waste management; and insofar as play can be seen as a
waste of time, the logic of playbour demands that time be wasted
efficiently. In this sense we could also call playbour the Taylorization of
leisure. Like other forms of affective or immaterial labour, playbour is not
productive in the sense of resulting in a product, but it is the process
itself that generates value. The means of production are the players
themselves, but insofar as they only exist within play environments by
virtue of their representations, and their representations are usually owned
by the providers of these environments, the players cannot be said to be
fully in control of these means. Playbour is suffused with an ideology of
play, which effectively masks labour as play, and disguises the process of
self-expropriation as self-expression. However, exploitation and
empowerment, subjectification and objectification, wastefulness and
efficiency coexist in the ambiguous "third space" of playbour, where these
binary oppositions break down, and thus open up new possibilities of

Hmm, maybe not so succinct, but it'll have to do for now. I'll try to
condense it to 140 characters and tweet it later.

Julian aka @cucchiaio

2009/6/25 Trebor Scholz <>

> Hi Julian,
> Great, could you re-join the discussion with a succinct, one paragraph
> definition of playbour
> and a very short argumentation of why neither play nor labor easily fit the
> situation?
> Cheers,
> Trebor
> ----
> Written tersely, typed imperfectly, and then sent from my phone
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Message: 2
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 11:31:27 +1000
From: Jean Burgess <>
Subject: [iDC] YouTube and the other kinds of value [was MySpace staff
To: "" <>
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1"

My apologies for dashing off too-hasty and ill-considered comments far late
at night, and then not returning to the conversation until now - with a long
and rambling post.

[ By way of a bit more background, I'm a research fellow at the ARC Centre
of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation, QUT, Australia. My
background is in music performance, cultural & media studies, and now
Internet research. My own work on user-created content and the emergence of
commercial platforms built around it begins from the question of cultural
participation; especially from the perspective of everyday life and the ways
in which it is lived in and through media consumption and use. And with
Joshua Green I have written about these and other matters in a book called
_YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture_ (Polity, 2009). ]

In response to posts on MySpace staff cuts, costs and the question of profit
by Trebor, Michael, Andreas, danah and others -

I'm grateful to learn so much about the real costs of operating these
services - a much-needed perspective and an area where I don't have much

I have been following the whole conversation where possible and acknowledge
the wonderful work of so many on this list (Julian K?cklich and others
especially) to understand how troubled the distinction between the economic
(the factory) and the cultural (the playground) is in practice. However I do
think that the framing of so-called social media in terms of political
economy continually leads to a kind of cold and abstracted economism (e.g.
"the internet is all about making money" vs. "the internet is all about
competition for attention"). This is noticeable to me in terms of how
"value" (and the meaning of work) are being construed; trapping us in purely
industrial rather than cultural logics most of the time, and frequently
individualising, even de-humanising participation ("users").

I think it would be good if we could consider the multiple forms of cultural
and public value generated as a largely unintended consequence of the
uncoordinated, collective use of these platforms, without being accused of
being "celebratory". For me, this focus leads to different kinds of
critiques of the political issues surrounding commercial platforms for
cultural participation. For example, what if the very monopolistic
tendencies of YT/Google are a driver of broader and more diverse cultural
participation - again, this would be counter-intuitive if it were true (and
it might be). 

To save time and because I've put it better elsewhere, I have pasted in
below a small chunk out of the conclusion to a piece of mine called
"User-Created Content and Everyday Cultural Practice: Lessons from YouTube"
, forthcoming in the collection _TV as Digital Media_, eds James Bennett and
Nikki Strange (Duke, 2009), which covers some of these issues.

" [...]

YouTube is generating public and civic value as an unintended and often
unsupported consequence of the collective practices of its users. But it is
questionable to what extent the unintentionally produced cultural, civic and
social value of YouTube is truly being valued or safeguarded, especially by
the company itself. Of course, even though YouTube is experienced as a
public space, it isn?t really public at all, but a private enterprise
generating public value as a side-effect of the active participation of
consumer-citizens. YouTube puts into relief the dependency?unanticipated in
?revolutionary? discourse?on market-led platforms that enable participation
and engagement to flourish, while at the same time deriving value from them.
The political questions that arise from this reality can too easily be
sidelined exclusively into more prevalent debates around ?free labor? (at
its least sophisticated, going no further than to argue that if value is
being created, then someone?s labour must be being exploited).

There are important political problems with the corporatization of amateur
and audience media use, but they look different with cultural participation,
rather than exploitation, in the frame. For example, copyright?widely
considered to be a barrier to creativity?looks different when we think of
YouTube as a shared cultural resource and a popular archive than it does
when we think of it as a platform for individual creativity or political
commentary (although it is that too, of course). The need to answer to
advertisers and a large number of national governments likewise is beginning
to influence the extent to which YouTube is available as a truly shared
resource to citizens of different countries, as localized filtering measures
are introduced and at least appear to be being used to block content
according to licensing restrictions.

Despite these constraints, if YouTube remains in existence for long enough,
the result will be not only a repository of vintage television content, but
something even more significant: a record of contemporary global popular
culture (including vernacular and everyday culture) in video form, produced
and evaluated according to the logics of cultural value that emerge from the
collective choices of the distributed YouTube user community. Indeed,
YouTube is arguably a more effective vehicle for the popular memorialisation
of television than are either broadcasters or cultural institutions, because
they tend to memorialize television-as-industry, and not

Cultural institutions (including public service broadcasters) are actively
considering how such developments will impact on their own missions and
practices,  but less consideration is usually given to the implications of
commercial spaces taking on some of the work of cultural institutions
without being tied to the same public and state-based responsibilities.
Archivist Rick Prelinger argues that those who have provided the
infrastructure which has unexpectedly produced these accidental archives, as
in the case of YouTube, are mostly ?blithely unconcerned by [the] questions
of persistence, ownership, standards, sustainability, or accountability?
that occupy professional archivists and their parent institutions.

Because YouTube offers its service based on commercial interests, rather
than public ones, there is no obligation to store this data beyond the
commercial viability of the company that provides the storage service. Nor
is there any straightforward way cultural institutions can re-archive
material that shows up on YouTube, because of legal barriers such as
copyright law and YouTube?s Terms of Use.

These questions of public value and the archive highlight some of the
cultural implications of YouTube and its difference from broadcast media
like television. While YouTube is in the ?reach? business, with a business
model fundamentally based on delivering attention to advertisers, unlike
television networks, YouTube, Inc. does not program, collect or (other than
minimally) curate content: it provides a flat and accessible platform for an
extremely wide range of contributors, and YouTube, Inc. interferes with
their activities only to the extent that intervention is perceived as
necessary in order to stay on the right side of the law. At the same time,
this underdetermination can also be understood as under-regulation ? which
is what gets the company so regularly into trouble with both Big Media
competitors and censorious national governments. Because of its openness and
underdetermination, YouTube is producing significant public value as an
?accidental? cultural archive; and yet the questions of how or whether this
enormous repository of cultural memory should be preserved and shared have
yet to be properly asked, yet alone answered. "



Message: 3
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 21:28:00 -0400
From: "Paul B. Hartzog" <>
Subject: Re: [iDC] Fwd: 21st Century
To: Saul Ostrow <>
Cc: "" <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1


Paul B. Hartzog (myself) and Richard Adler on Social Publishing:

Happy to talk to you more :-)


On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 8:06 PM, Saul Ostrow<> wrote:
> Does anyone know of anyone doing any theoretical work on the end of culture
> and the emergence of socio-cultural production -
> _______________________________________________
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The Universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
                 --Muriel Rukeyser

See differently, then you will act differently.
                 --Paul B. Hartzog


Message: 4
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 20:04:26 -0700
From: Christiane Robbins <>
Subject: Re: [iDC] Fwd: 21st Century -
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Coincidentally,  I just happend to see Alex Rivera's new film " Sleep  
Dealer. "    If, by chance, anyone is interested in further  
considering labor practices, corporate government interplay, race and  
class struggle within an engaging 21st c  "near future" rendering of  
the American Dream ... by all means add this to your list -

All best,


C h r i s t i a n e   R o b b i n s

                                  - JETZTZEIT -
... the space between zero and one  ...
Walter Benjamin


The present age prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to  
the original, fancy to reality,
the appearance to the essence
for in these days
  illusion only is sacred, truth profane.

Ludwig Feuerbach, 1804-1872,

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The research of the Institute for Distributed Creativity 
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