New Criticals

Capitalism is freeing the commodity of its material form, if it hasn’t totally already. Online, nothing is a finished product. Non-traditional commodity forms are constantly evolving, updating, changing, fixing, linking, debugging and re-working in an indefinite and interminable process of production. Instagram as a commodity is a tool of affect and therein lies its primary value; the community, hardly its rudimentary technology, is where the money is. [5] Its organically operating community, not necessarily its technology, is of value. This is an altogether new relationship and interaction between labor and time, production and time, and quality and time. No one is suggesting that all commodities have disappeared – simply go to Amazon – but “become more transparent” as a result of the kind of labor behind them.

In the early days of the Internet, barely any mass volunteer labor was compensated – and it did not need to be. Money was not driving the burgeoning community nor fostering its participation. Invention itself pushed forward the technology, drawing from a limitless and willing workforce. The tiny fraction that paid was overcompensated at the hierarchical top in owners and CEOs of web companies. Then the bubble burst, and capitalism learned from it’s mistakes. Back to tangible assets, like real estate. It is even more pronounced today. On the whole, the Internet is maintained by an unfathomable amount of labor (in varying degrees of quantity and quality), done willingly for fun. It is co-operation far from the factory, it is interacting with others. This labor presents itself as intimate and personal; it is domestic, un-alienated, homegrown, yours. Why else would this kind of labor be unrecognizable? Since when is work fun?