Monday, November 26, 2012

virtual communities, free labor

no pun intended-
i mean to contrast the virtual communities of 100 million youtube viewers, w/ the community of a few hundred in a non-virtual march or sit-in (and the "virtual worlds" such a congregation inherently conveys to its participants by its performance of community and by the creation of a space of rapid affective flow).  If "actual" activism creates virtual worlds and is thus a demonstration of radical change/possibility, "virtual" "slacktivism" is inherently (only?) reformist- we are very much okay with sitting on our computers, presumably alone, contributing to statistics which will communicate a mild distaste for some fluke or rough edge of our historical situation simultaneously with our general being-okay-with the general state of things, most obviously, a "virtual" community imagined with the aid of statistics in the bottom right of a browser window.

this does not go against the "gateway drug" thesis, nor does it presume the "displacement" thesis, only a note on the inherently reformist nature of "slacktivism"

also-- the paragraph in the fung + shkabatur article about the possible later co-option of viral marketing by monied, organized interests recalls Terranova's free labor.  The grass roots pioneers a marketing mechanism, it's effectiveness is proven, and it becomes ripe for co-option.

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