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by Dorothy Howard

On February 17, 2014 I started a Facebook group titled "Immaterial Digital Labor." The group has become something of an ongoing online reading group. On any given week, the conversations might relate to surveillance, information, data, affect, identity, and gender politics, a lens into the prism of ideas and politics that intersect when we talk about the prevalence of the immaterial, the digital, and labor in the contemporary psyche. For example, in the past few days, members have posted and discussed articles on "the problem with too much information,"

"the paradox of saving data," and "Silicon Valley's labor uprising," to name a few.

Most members have some personal experience with immaterial digital labor, which they seem to realize soon after becoming familiar with the term. Indeed, most people with access to digital life have some sort of personal story to share about the way these conditions have affected their quality of life, but because these concerns are so new, most of us don't have ways to articulate these intuitive feelings until we are introduced to a certain vocabulary. (See: this issue's list of "selected terms".)

The term "immaterial digital labor" is misleading because immaterial conditions always have correspondent effects in the physical world. We use the word "immaterial" to understand a sort of molecularized alienation; you could call it a networked alienation, channeling through our bodies, our interfaces, the cloud. The recognition of immaterial labor might be first detected on an individual level by an intuition that someone is making money off of your expression, your body, when the person making money does not legally, financially, socially recognize that relationship as a relationship of production . . .

And also not indirectly creating value and data for corporations / by Liz Pelly, Chris Lee, and Dorothy Howard

When we put out a call for submissions for this issue, we included this specific fine print: "As a radical publication we are specifically interested in pieces that reflect on how the . . .


by Victoria Ruiz
Always a rage against the machine.

Should I write for free?

A selected and somewhat subjective list of definitions.

Further perspectives on immaterial digital labor.

A primer.

An interview with author, activist & filmmaker Astra Taylor / by Liz Pelly

While reading the conclusion to Astra Taylor's The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, I was overwhelmed by that feeling you might get when you hear a perfectly relatable song - the sense that someone finally is articulating a very nuanced and human thing you had been harboring, but never had the rights words for. "It may seem counterintuitive at a time of information overload, viral media, aggregation, and instant commenting to worry about our cultural supply," she writes. "But we are at risk of starving in the midst of plenty." The chapter is presented as a "Manifesto For Sustainable Culture."

Taylor is a writer, activist, documentarian filmmaker, and musician. She is responsible for two philosophy-related documentaries, Zizek and The Examined Life. She was a founding organizer of the Occupy-inspired movement Strike Debt, and continues to organize around economic injustice with The Debt Collective. In 2013 and 2014, she toured as a member of Neutral Milk Hotel, playing accordion and guitar. Her writing has appeared in n+1, Adbusters, The Nation, and elsewhere. When we met up for breakfast in the West Village in August, our conversation centered on The People's Platform, published in 2014.

Taylor's book interrogates the internet's relationship with culture: specifically, it challenges the idea that the web has made culture more accessible, fair, and democratic. Internet enthusiasts claim that the internet has created a cultural landscape where everything is open and free, but Taylor wants us to shout back at that narrative: Open to who? And what are the real costs of 'free culture'? Taylor provokes readers to think about economic privilege, labor rights, sustainability, and general respect for the arts; to consider who really profits off of these digital platforms we are all presently, seemingly, beholden to. ...

Cash 4 Callouts / by Chris Lee
"What's it like being a person of color in predominantly-white spaces? How do you feel about your body? What parts do/don't you have? Sorry if I offended you. Sorry, sorry, sorry."

Calling collect means that those who habitually raise basic, boring questions need to acknowledge their debts (and basicness), so that we consistently remind each other to be culturally and economically responsible to those in precarious positions.

The feminist think piece industrial
complex / by Chanelle Adams
"The think piece, originally sourced from the voice of personal blogs, has been co-opted by the profit making media machines. How can this system privileging virality and buzziness, incorporated into the modes of mass production (including unpaid labor), ever call itself feminist?"

Facebook's citizen editors
/ by NM Esc
"Sharing is labor. It requires time, energy, emotional investment, and maintenance. It generates profit for Facebook."

and the fight for open information
/ by Sarah Hamerman
"The digital text-sharing underground gives a voice to those quieted by the mechanisms of institutional archives, publishing, and galleries."

The new label's 'pay gap' discount
/ by Liz Pelly
"Fuck you to Steve Jobs, and a pox on every single frat-boy that can code who is paying $3K for a 1BR in the Mission - you are a miscreant of the lowliest most-Roman sort, and I wait patiently for the day we run out of electricity."

A Q&A with Mark Kim on cyber security
"Cryptography is yet one of many new skills that are increasingly required to protect ourselves from the government, constituting an added digital labor where those that have the privilege (time, education, etc.) to learn security techniques, are privileged in being safer."

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