“Digital Labor”. The Internet as Playground and Factory
Edited by Trebor Scholz
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

The book asks whether life on the internet is mostly work, or play. We tweet, we tag photos, we link, we review books, we comment on blogs, we remix media, and we upload video to create much of the content that makes up the web. And large corporations profit on our online activity by tracking our interests, affiliations, and habits—and then collecting and selling the data. What is the nature of this interactive ‘labor’ and the new forms of digital sociality that it brings into being?

This unique collection of essays provides a wide-ranging account of the dark side of the Internet. It claims that the divide between leisure time and work has vanished so that every aspect of life drives the digital economy. The book reveals the anatomy of playbor (play/labor), the lure of exploitation and the potential for empowerment.

Ultimately, the 14 thought-provoking chapters in this volume ask how users can politicize their troubled complicity, create public alternatives to the centralized social web, and thrive online.

Contributors: Mark Andrejevic, Ayhan Aytes, Michel Bauwens, Jonathan Beller, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Sean Cubitt, Jodi Dean, Abigail De Kosnik, Julian Dibbell, Christian Fuchs, Lisa Nakamura, Andrew Ross, Ned Rossiter, Trebor Scholz, Tiziana Terranova, McKenzie Wark, and Soenke Zehle

The international, interdisciplinary contributors to “Digital Labor” suggest that there is no longer a clear divide between ‘the personal’ and ‘work,’ as every aspect of life drives the digital economy: sexual desire, boredom, friendship—and all become fodder for speculative profit.

They argue that we are living in a total labor society and the way in which we are commoditized, racialized, and engendered is profoundly and disturbingly normalized by the dominant discourse of digital culture.

“Digital Labor” poses a series of questions about our digital present:

– How is the global crisis of capitalism linked to the hidden labor of the digital economy?

– How do we address that most online interaction, whether work or play, for profit or not, is taking place on corporate platforms?

– How can we acknowledge moments of exploitation while not eradicating optimism, inspiration, and the many instances of individual financial and political empowerment?

In response to these questions, this collection offers new definitions of digital labor that address and challenge the complex, hybrid realities of the digital economy.



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