Archive for June, 2010
To the truly mobile work force.
To the new paradigm.
Get the innovation right when it happens.
The way we work is now.
What will you choose?”
Whether it’s large companies or small start-ups, the transparency of profiteering on hype is clearer today than ever before. We recognize it as soon as we see it and yet, these people will jump on the latest buzz term to capitalize on vapor… Unfortunately investors will invest, naive management will be seduced and some will buy into these “Cloud” products.
This video is sickening to watch, be prepared to have a bunch of tools try to sound visionary and inspiring (and you really don’t want to witness the little dance moves):
Choosing the Cloud is Capitalism On Hyperdrive… It will make workaholics happy, and their children sad and neglected (although these are most likely people who only see their children on the weekends, so weekend time will be curtailed by emails, txts, mobile conferencing…) As Internet accessibility expands, the office is always at your fingertips.
But people needn’t accept this, a worker’s contract must be established, privacy and inaccessibility is necessary for the imagination… draw the line. Of course these CEOs will say that the Cloud saves time by establishing greater efficiency… don’t believe the hype. And if you really feel the need to jump into the clouds, just use Google. Although it’s not as pretty, Google is well ahead of these companies, and it’s likely to be around longer (and they’re already analyzing your searches anyhow).
I’m primarily reacting to this silly video and the hype revolving around “Cloud Computing.” After all, it’s the roll of entrepreneurs to try and capitalize on hype, to make quick money on tools that are already freely accessible or to cash in on naivety, laziness or ignorance. And if it’s a good product that facilitates some work flow, or has you log into less things, great… But underlying my reactionary response is the need for a critical perspective regarding ease of accessibility. And the pervasive business mentality of the need to always be connected that flows into all aspects of society (not just business)… It is time for a universal social contract to be established that allows the worker privacy and inaccessibility. Today, it’s simply too easy for young or vulnerable employees to be taken advantage of and be expected to be on call or online 24/7.
You can also identify this phenomenon in the contemporary pressures of corporations with publicly traded stock to maintain and increase “shareholder value.” What matters most to these corporations’ managers are the metrics of profit and objective value monitored and determined by a new enormous, international financial services industry. What matters less, especially to most metrically inclined institutional investors, is how well the company has done for society, what the subjective value of its products are to its producers and consumers, it is the objective, quantifiable dimension of value that is the proverbial bottom line. Marx would see this as the essence of capitalism – the centralization of markets and money, the elevation of the quantitative, formal side of things and therefore “estrangement,” in human experience. In contemporary capitalist society, like it or not, the medial sphere of exchange and transaction reigns supreme, utilizing the formal, objective dimension of value to triumph over the poetic, and, for Marx, “human” dimension of value.
I’m reading Boyer’s Understanding Media book as I do research for a current project. Boyer calls the book an essay and it’s brief and clearly written… Below is a passage about the value of objects produced and distributed in a global market… it doesn’t present anything new, but I like the writing:
Marx recognized that every society at every point in history had some kind of gap between objective value and subjective value and he called this “estrangement.” But he asserted that capitalism, with its central institutions of wage labor and private property, made human estrangement total, since it reduced all or most human activity to activity oriented toward markets and money.
To understand how estrangement connects to the medial, try a small thought experiment. Think about your sneakers or, for that matter, any other thing you use routinely. Subjectively, what makes your sneaker valuable to you is their comfort, their ability to keep your feet dry and protected, and likely also the image or status they convey. But, none of these subjective needs an desires iv you a legitimate claim upon those shoes in a market-oriented society with institutionalized private property. What gives you a claim is your ability to pay their objective, market-determined price. How are you able to earn enough to buy them? ONly through some other kind of activity compensated by money. Does your need for money alter even if you don’t like the activity you specialize in? Sorry, no. But this seems normal since we’re socialized from an early age to feel that it’s impossible or at least very difficult to opt out of the monetary economy altogether.
And what are you really paying for in the price of those sneakers? It would require an enormous amount of detective work to determine that precisely but the answer would be something like: the market-determined costs of materials, labors, rent, management, machinery, storage, transport, advertising and marketing, among other inputs. None of these inputs have anything to do with your subjective need for shoes either, nor do they have much to do with the subjective value of the time and energy invested elsewhere in the making and marketing of those shoes by the suppliers of the raw materials, by the shoe assemblers, perhaps in Indonesia and China, by people involved in freighting the shoes between Asia and North America, by advertisers and marketers and sports-scientists affiliated with the sneaker company and, of course, the salespeople in the store where you purchased them.
At every link in the production chain, subjective values are coordinated by objective value, human interests and idiosyncrasies are converted into an abstract logic and language of supply, demand, price, utility, equivalence, value and so on. One of the key effects of this continuous conversion process is that we can use routine objects like our sneakers with no sense whatsoever of the many human hands that contributed to the production, passage, and marketing of them. And, yet, without those hands, no sneakers; the other side of a complex exchange system of specialized producers is that most of us do not have the time or skill to produce useful things like sneakers for ourselves.