Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The little black box of dreams

I want to talk about the black box (issues of myth that surround convergence) in Jenkins' article and relate it to Terranova's theories about freedom and control.

The image of a "black box of convergence" that Jenkins discusses posits resided in my mind. I couldnt help but see similarities between it and the sleek black, rectangular iphone and now iPad. The black box is an ideal goal for convergence that has real wold corollaries (ipod, kindle, blackberries, xbox etc) but at the same time is imaginary, something to strive towards, inovation, simplicity. The ideal black box wouldnt be a fixed object but rather durable hardware that can adapted to the flexible and always updated world of software, allowing for the new inovations to work on the device. There are always new apps coming out, that make the iphone not just a point of convergence for media but a toolbox, a means of currency and transaction (imagine a not to far off world where creditcards will be embedded into phones). Inherent in this image is a not so far off world where not just media converges but all technology may converge.

This idea attracts our society because of its implicit promises of freedom, mobility etc. Indeed today many people aspire to have location free jobs, or ones in which mobility becomes possible. In our postfordist society this is increasingly more possible (appaderai points to this in his idea of Ethnoscapes). The imaginary associated with this is a CEO doing work from the a beach in Fiji, sipping a momosa. Such freedom is an ideal: to travel the world, to follow a loved one, to shake up the stagnation of daily rhythms, and live life to the fullest (sorry gettting a bit carried away here) but that is the point.

Essentially convergence becomes synonymous with ease, and freedom, and convienence. Authorship of the little black box means early retirement, fame, accomplishment, buisness. Both the consumers and the producers participate in this goal. Consumers want it and will pay for it, while producers want to create it. This creates a situation in which the quest for utopian convergence fuels productivity, research, innovation. This work essential is unpaid because profits are hypothetical based on meeting a future goal. But those who enter the race, enter willingly and most importantly freely

The myth then that surrounds convergence is responsible for late hours, for technological juicing of human productive power, and de-emphasis on the individual in favor of the synergistic energy of collaboration.

Perhaps convergence is an interesting way to think about Appaderai's theory of consumption fetish where there is both a fetishism of the producer and a fetishism of the consumer.

Now i turn to the appaderi's social imaginaire. Appauderies idea of nostalgia and the social imaginare- which he says: "Social imaginare is built around re-runs". We are stuck in the the media of other temporalities the past yes via the re-run culture, but also the future, imaginary culture (of convergence) which we strive towards.

Fuller's article about Microsoft discusses our hope for more autonomous workers, and also that work gets absorbed into the technology via the convergence of skill and capabilities into one interface. But at what point does this hope become oversaturated? is it only imaginary? Has it yet been realized in society?

Are we simply taking the neoliberalism promise too seriously and becoming addicted?

It seems that capitalism is trying to manage our desire for change/progression (is there a difference?). but equally it could be that we we project onto capitalism our disires and ideals. and that capitalism can regulate our actions without itself having agency other than simply being a promise or a set of rules.

So then my questions break down here . i want to know how capitalism regulates social desires. And what does marx have to do with it?

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