Networking Overload

27Nov11

In Chapter 24 of MMW, Lovink and Rossiter posit that “the ‘participation economy’ of Web 2.0 is underscored by a great tension between the ‘free labor’ of cooperation that defines social networks and its appropriation by firms and companies. How is the ‘wealth of networks’ to be protected from exploitation?.. .companies, then, are vulnerable to the roaming tastes of the networked masses whose cooperative labor determines their wealth. “(MMW, 285)

Fast Company published an article that I believe is a reflection of this idea that Lovink and Rossiter refer to as the ‘wealth of networks’ and the tension between the ‘free labor of cooperation.’  This article also, in ways, harnesses the opposing viewpoint of Lovink and Rossiter, which is the idea that sometimes, the negative byproducts of networks can be beneficial. I thought it would interesting to juxtapose these two views.

While at the same time that Lovink and Rossiter’s slant could be categorized as pessimistic, especially in reference to how online social networks factor into political democracies, as demonstrated below, this article tackles the opposing viewpoint that online social networks, and even its negative byproducts (spam) can be looked at optimistically.

“Certainly, the production of this type of political subjectivity is preferable to the pretty revolting culture of ‘shareholder democracy’ that has come to define political expression for the neoliberal citizen.” (MMW, Lovink & Rossiter, 285)

In this article by Fast Company, the author talks about the annoyances of “snam”, a coined term that refers to unwanted email, something I think we can all relate to. Toward the end of the article, however, the author discusses how “snam”, this type of spam, can actually be of benefit to individuals in organizations.

The article also addresses up and coming social networking companies that connect employees to each other within the network of an organization. For example, if a former employee wants to connect with someone at his/her former company, he/she can do this through social networking tools. At the same time, these tools must generate “snam,” in inboxes to connect people with their service. The types of unwanted emails sent to inboxes might include invitations to connect, requests, or updates.

While “snam” could be seen as a form of labor, Lovink and Rossiter might agree with the notion that the wealth of networks is rooted within the ‘free labor’ cooperation’ of unwanted emails in inboxes. On the other hand, the author of “Networking Overload” may view “snam” as a necessary means to an end: an increased wealth of networks.

– Dan Schiffman

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/81/techsupport.html

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