Governance of labor in digital video networks

Fish, Adam (2011) Governance of labor in digital video networks. In: iConference '11 Proceedings of the 2011 iConference. ACM Press, New York, pp. 466-471. ISBN 978-1-4503-0121-3

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Theories of digitally distributed labor tend to fall into an idealized, oppositional binary that conflates digital labor systems with critiques that are judgmental rather than based on detailed analyses of the actual system or site. On the one hand are celebrations of user-generated content emerging out of the free time and willful contributions of millions of people. On the other hand are accounts of digital labor and exploitation that argue for the dystopic effects of flexible capitalist labor outsourcing. This paper argues for an inductive model of analysis that considers these two perspectives within the context of practices within the sites or systems themselves. This is all the more important when one analyzes emerging social enterprises, which attempt to fulfill a primary social, non-capitalist outcome while still maintaining a competitive position within the market. To demonstrate my argument for hybridity, I present one social enterprises that navigates the utopic and dystopic positions presented above: (1) the user-generated television network Current TV. This case study was selected because it is a for-profit social enterprise that employs digital technologies to accumulate, distribute, and coordinate multiple forms of networked production. I examine how the corporate celebrations of "democratized" or "distributed" work function for the case study in question. My point is that with a critical analysis of the case study theories can be developed that are analytically resonant with digital labor sites and systems.

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18 Dec 2012 13:55
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17 Sep 2023 03:50