[Air-L] Compiled Reading list on Alienated Labor

Alan Bilansky alanbilansky at gmail.com
Sat Sep 7 17:01:34 PDT 2013

Good people,

Thanks to everyone who suggested readings on uncompensated (or alienated)
labor on the Internet.  As promised, here is a (quick, sloppy) compilation
of the suggestions I received.  (Thanks in particular to Julie Chen Yujie,
who sent me nearly half of these herself off-list.)  Here is my list--at
the bottom of this note and as a Google Doc:


In case anyone is wondering, I haven't read them all, but here is what I
know I will be using in a month or so:  The Ghel essay is fairly dense, but
it also allows me to get at the distinction between applications and data,
one reason we have departments of informatics and computer science.  The
Talk be Zittrain is perfect.  I'll be asking the class to watch the video
and then propose a Mechanical Turk project, either creepy or merely
interesting.  Other readings also good. . . .

Thanks again!


* * *


Readings for undergrads on Alienated labor on the Internet.

Complied by Alan Bilansky (University of Illinois), powered by AIR-L

* Andrejevic, Mark: Social Media Exploitation” in Papacharissi (ed.) A
Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites.
London: Routledge, 2011.

* Baym, Nany ; Burnett, Robert (2008) « Amateur experts : International fan
labor in Swedish independent music », Internet Research, 9.0, 1-28.

* Bauwens, Michel. “The social web and its social contracts: Some notes on
social antagonism in netarchical capitalism”. Re-public: re-imagining
democracy <http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=261> [Accessed 24 January 2011].

A blog post on social media site and how it relates to the way in which
capitalism accumulates surplus value.

* De Vugt, G. “Dare to Edit! – the Politics of Wikipedia.” Ephemera: Theory
& Politics in Organization 10, no. 1 (2010): 64-76.

A piece which would be great taken together with Van Dijick et al.

* Fuchs, Christian. “Labor in informational capitalism and on the
Internet.” The Information Society 26, no.3 (2010): 179-196.

A critical, rather theoretical work on labor issue on the Internet. Not
sure if it is too dense for undergrad.

Also by Fuchs:

- http://fuchs.uti.at/409/

- http://fuchs.uti.at/436/

* . . . the postscript from Alexander Galloway's latest book The Interface
Effect titled "We Are the Gold Farmers" to discuss unpaid microlabor. The
students seemed to understand and enjoy it. http://amzn.com/0745662536

* I have found that Gehl's 2011 article "The archive and the processor: the
internal logic of Web 2.0" to be popular for creating dialogue and
engagement with postgrad students regarding the topic of uncompensated
labour on the net. I am not sure about undergrads, but I think with some
explanation of concepts it could work quite well. Don't be put off by the
abstract - it is a bit dense!

* Tyler Handley: My recent paper on P2P and Google has a concise section on
how Google monetizes the labour of internet users.


Sections "Wealth of Networks" & "How Google Monpolized the Wealth of

* Kücklich, J. “Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games
Industry.” fibreculture Journal 5 (2005). <
http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue5/kucklich.html>. [Accessed 31 January
2011].A great piece on how the line between play and labor has been shifted
in the game industry (although not directly related to the internet).

* Jaron Lanier's "You Are Not a Gadget" has sections that address
uncompensated labor.

* I have used Remix by Lawrence Lessig. Very accessible reading, and Lessig
talks a lot about crowdsourced labor. My undergrads liked the readings from
Remix very much.

* Mork Petersen, Soren (2008) « Loser Generated Content : From
Participation to Exploitation », First Monday, Vol. 13, n° 3.
http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2141/1948 (a very marxist point of view)

* This may be a bit longer than you were looking for, but PJ Rey wrote a
nice piece on Alienation, Exploitation, and UCG:

* Trebor Scholz: - http://www.re-public.gr/en/?p=138

* Terranova, Tiziana. “Free Labour: Producing Culture for the Digital
Economy,” Social Text 18.2 (2000), 33-58.  A seminal work on how unpaid
labor is garnered in the earlier days of the Internet economy.

* Van Dijck, J., and D. Nieborg. “Wikinomics and its Discontents: a
Critical Analysis of Web 2.0 Business Manifestos.” New Media & Society 11,
no. 5 (2009): 855-874. doi: 10.1177/1461444809105356.  The article takes an
incisive look into the myth around Wikipedia. Might be helpful to let the
student understand the way in which the internet functions

* It's not a reading but I've used this talk by Jonathan Zittrain before:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dw3h-rae3uo&feature=youtu.be  It provides
some great examples and he's an entertaining speaker - ideal for undergrads!

* It's a bit heavy on the neo-Marxianism, and focused on the realm of
consumer culture, but this Journal of Consumer Culture article by Detlev
Zwick et al is my go-to on the subject. Dr. Zwick has a number of articles
on this and related topics.

Alan Bilansky

alanbilansky at gmail.com
(201) 743-8670

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