Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Blog Post #10

The term “free labor” given by Tiziana Terranova could be a little horrifying. It sheds a very different light on the open source movement. Words like participation and collaboration are of course still relevant, but it seems they do not necessarily guarantee the creation of a utopia which the Internet had been entrusted with the potential to be from its emergence, free from controls of the real world, state or corporate. As ‘Netscape went 'open source' and invited the computer tinkers and hobbyists to look at the code of its new browser, fix the bugs, improve the package and redistribute it, specialized mailing lists exchanged opinions about its implications,” enabling maybe the better and faster upgrading of its browser for free, than could be done by hiring a group of engineers to work on it. Because the Internet is a site of limitlessness. They could hire the best people they can find, but somewhere on the Internet there must be someone better. And of course however many people they hire it will not be as many as those that are active on the internet. What is more, the Internet offers an “open communications environment” that is hardly conceivable in any one company. It is the most wonderful space for generating new ideas and knowledge that is crucial to today’s digital economy. What capitalism needs to do is to find ways to capture these ideas and knowledge and turn them into profit. Terranova’s essay tells us that it has found ways to do it, for free. It really bothers me to think that the many activities that we enjoy as leisure activities that better our lives, such as uploading YouTube videos, and for some people, fixing the bug of an open source browser, can be conceptualized as tasks that generate profits for some corporation that I have nothing to do with, and that we are not paid for it too. I need to think more about what to make of it that the line between work and leisure is blurred to such an extent that it’s actually possible for people to generate profits while genuinely believing that they are having fun. But then, it’s not their own profits that they are generating, so this is a kind of exploitation for sure.


Anna's section

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