Thursday, December 07, 2006

Class discussions

I found some interesting similarities between Litman's arguments and arguments concerning basic income guarantee, and I wanted to kind of locate their connective tissue. Actually, I guess I should be more specific: there were moments during past class discussions regarding basic income guarantee that could have been applied to today's arguments, so I suppose this is actually more about the particulars of our class dynamic as opposed to texts that make certain claims.

That being said, I remember that when basic income guarantee became a topic of discussion, there were a number of reactions that sounded something like this: what incentive will there be to work certain kinds of jobs which "must be done" if the fiscal backing does not exist? Isn't it too close to an idealist, utopian myth that can't function because skill=monetary incentive fueling a desire to develop certain skill=application of skill? Won't there be too great of a leveling effect that will render individualism inactive because we will somehow [based solely on our income] lose a sense of "purposeful work"? Communism? Assimilation? Lack of definable, class and social differences?

All of these assumptions or fears have a definite weight and legitimacy, and should not be immediately dismissed because they are the product of our shared contemporary experiences and make a lot of sense in THIS CONTEXT (the context being contemporary life). What developed out of that argument, however, was the notion that how we identify "work" and what constitutes the process of working and production would have to become or WOULD become radically different because if you are paid simply to exist, then the activities you do everyday can BECOME what work means {a really really really great argument for Artists, with a capital A, D.C.).

Ok, so there's that. That in and of itself isn't the connection I'm trying to make. What connects these two discussions more directly is the ideology shift. There was an almost intrinsic agreement initially that determined what constituted "work" that wasn't necessarily a vocalized claim, but I think parallels could have been made among individual philosophies of what work represented to each of us that could form a sort of general consensus of what we think of as productive labor. Keeping that in mind, it was necessary for us to reaffirm what we dictate to be work in order for something like basic income guarantee to make any amount of sense.

Similarly, I found that the discussion of the Litman piece today required an adjustment of what we believe constitutes property and how we think about the exchange of information. I think it's interesting that Litman explained the history of copyright laws in order to kind of demonstrate that what are consider common-placed notions of intellectual property haven't actually existed for all that long. In the same way that [and this is not the best example, but something relatable to critical theory and the course overall], when we speak about Nature, we need to remember the history of how Nature developed as an ideology, we need to keep in mind that WE, the contemporaries of every historical moment, are the inventors of these compartments. Therefore, we have full license to change our minds.

This is oversimplified, obviously. It's not like flicking on a switch. But it is an interesting, gradual exercise that I feel can free us of a number of unnecessary binds.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm watching me


well, maybe...

after getting past the wrong idea I originally had, I still cant see how the internet is parrelled to Foucault's panopticon. the thing that gets me is the freedom of activity in the participants. in the panoptic prison, the prisoners had no activity, ie- were stuck in a cell and therefore in the mechanism of the panopticon. Internet users however, have a very different experience. they are actively seeking out information to use in each persons own way. theres no coercion or intimidation(unless you bring up the recording industry suits) about viewing or creating websites as long as they confine to the law. true kiddie porn is off limits but I think it's for the best...really. other than that governments and organizations have no power (that I'm aware of) to control what content you consume. every so often I hear about how AOL or some other demon company sold customer activity lists to the CIA or FBI and I say get educated about how the net works, get a floating IP or change web providers! Or better yet lobby the government to change these invasive practices. anyway.

the internet is a decentralized network made up of many large corporate pages but far more personal sites and blogs. in the prison, it' a top down, one way, direct contact, 'oh my god I'm in a fucking prison with armed guards watching my ass' kind of place.

perhaps its something more. maybe its about ISP providers having the power to control content. if the internet is an ocean, then the providers are the boats that get everyone around. what if those boats only went to certain destinations?? destinations that those wanting to keep an eye on everyone wanted you to see and those that they did not. I do not think the latter is the case. there are many out there that have the knowledge of the behind the scenes stuff that really help keep info flowing in the face of restrictions. so log off myspace for once and check out or or or or....hey! cheap DVD players on amazon..........

adam day

Tomorrow's Readings:

Just a reminder, tomorrow is a Law Day.

We're discussing Jessica Litman's Sharing and Stealing and James Boyle's Enclosing the Genome?

Those of you who have not yet co-facilitated a class discussion really need to figure out how that is going to happen. Next week we will be reading selections from the Precarity issue of fibreculture. Look it over in advance and have a sense of the pieces you might be interested in talking about in class a bit.