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Free Labor: PRODUCING CULTURE FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

Free Labor: PRODUCING CULTURE FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY Page 33 Free Labor P R O D U C I N G C U LT U R E F O R T H E D I G I TA L E C O N O M Y The real not-capital is labor. —Karl Marx, Grundrisse Tiziana Terranova Working in the digital media industry is not as much fun as it is made out to be. The “NetSlaves” of the eponymous Webzine are becoming increasingly vociferous about the shamelessly exploitative nature of the job, its punishing work rhythms, and its ruthless casualization (www.disobey.com/netslaves). They talk about “24–7 electronic sweatshops” and complain about the ninety-hour weeks and the “moronic management of new media companies.” In early 1999, seven of the fifteen thousand “volunteers” of America Online (AOL) rocked the info-loveboat by asking the Department of Labor to investigate whether AOL owes them back wages for the years of playing chathosts for free.1 They used to work long hours and love it; now they are starting to feel the pain of being burned by digital media. These events point to a necessary backlash against the glamorization of digital labor, which highlights its continuities with the modern sweatshop and points to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Text Duke University Press

Free Labor: PRODUCING CULTURE FOR THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

Social Text , Volume 18 (2 63) – Jun 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0164-2472
eISSN
1527-1951
DOI
10.1215/01642472-18-2_63-33
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 33 Free Labor P R O D U C I N G C U LT U R E F O R T H E D I G I TA L E C O N O M Y The real not-capital is labor. —Karl Marx, Grundrisse Tiziana Terranova Working in the digital media industry is not as much fun as it is made out to be. The “NetSlaves” of the eponymous Webzine are becoming increasingly vociferous about the shamelessly exploitative nature of the job, its punishing work rhythms, and its ruthless casualization (www.disobey.com/netslaves). They talk about “24–7 electronic sweatshops” and complain about the ninety-hour weeks and the “moronic management of new media companies.” In early 1999, seven of the fifteen thousand “volunteers” of America Online (AOL) rocked the info-loveboat by asking the Department of Labor to investigate whether AOL owes them back wages for the years of playing chathosts for free.1 They used to work long hours and love it; now they are starting to feel the pain of being burned by digital media. These events point to a necessary backlash against the glamorization of digital labor, which highlights its continuities with the modern sweatshop and points to

Journal

Social TextDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2000

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