Issue #4 (July 3rd 2015)

Issue #3 (June 1st 2015)

Issue #2 (May 16th 2015)

Issue #1 (May 1st 2015)

All contributions in this zine, unless otherwise
stated in the exceptions, are licensed under
the GNU General Public License
Marisol Sandoval’s contribution “Prosumer co-op”
is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND
Bob Haugen, Örsan Şenalp and Lídia Pereira’s
contribution “Conversations” is licensed
under the Peer Production License
Welcome to the third issue of the Immaterial
Labour Union Zine!
This time around we’ll be analysing the
technology of power put in place which
organizes us, the produsers, for more
advantageous, profitable governance -
the Social Graph. Initially introduced during
the Facebook F8 conference in 2007 within
the context of the Facebook Platform, the
Social Graph has now expanded to become
Lídia Pereira
an attempt at the graphical representation
of relationships between everybody and
everything on the Internet. In 2010, just three
Rosie Gram
years after its introduction, the Social Graph
became the largest social network dataset
Marisol Sandoval, Örsan Şenalp,
in the world. The Social Graph, despite and
Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια,
thanks to its blatant bi-dimensionality, is
Tony Cage, Bob Haugen
successfully transforming the digital space
into the realm of the quantified subject, the
privileged structure for power infiltration within
Would you like to contribute?
the human soul.
We’ll be thinking about alternative platforms,
counter-mapping for the advantage of the
produsers, and reflecting graphically on how
Subscribe to the mailing list :
these power structures archive and organise
our interpersonal relationships.
June 1st, 2015
organized in pecuniary
of desire
data flows
links of interest,
nodding quiet
poet of algorithms
how vastly superior is to
of souls
profit from conscience.
my desire
composed in
graphics pale.
by Marisol Sandoval
Have you heard of an online social network called Commonicate? No?
Well, that’s because it does not exist. But it could. Commonicate could be
a non-commercial prosumer co-operative, commonly owned and controlled
by all its members and supported by a publicly funded participatory media fee.
The idea of co-operatives is not new. From co-operative shops, factories or
cafés, to entire villages - people have been looking towards collective alterna-
tives to capitalist businesses since the early 19th century. Co-operatives are
organisations that are collectively owned and democratically controlled by its
members who can be workers, consumers or also prosumers (producers+-
consumers). Today, creating prosumer co-ops could be a way to confront the
problems of commercial ‘social’ media such as surveillance, free labour and
corporate power.
The owners of commercial ‘social’ media platforms not only have the power to
decide on the design and functionality of these platforms, to set the terms of
use and sell user data to advertisers, they also generate profit from the unpaid
labour of social media users. On corporate social media, the discourse of sha-
ring serves to obscure the appropriation of social labour for private profit.
On the contrary, in our fictitious prosumer co-op Commonicate, users would not
only be sharing ideas and information, but also sharing ownership and decision
rights. Membership would have to be open to all Internet users. Collaborative
decision-making on a global scale could be organised through a combination
of voting systems and decentralised grassroots politics.
Commonicate could be based on open source software, creating a transparent
and adaptable technological infrastructure. Prosumer co-operators worldwide
could use the platform to discuss how it can best support their needs for
communication, collaboration and creative production. They could share ideas,
knowledge and technical skills to empower all members to participate in the
creation of a truly social media platform.
As a non-commercial prosumer co-op, Commonicate would not rely on private
investment or on the sale of user data to advertisers. The income needed to
pay for technological infrastructure and the labour of designers and software
developers could come from donations, a socially just membership contribution
or a participatory media fee - funded for example through an advertising tax as
Christian Fuchs suggested in the previous edition of the ILU Zine.
Prosumer co-ops will not change the Internet single-handedly. But along with
ideas such as creating an immaterial labour union, a guaranteed basic income
as a social wage for everyone, a publicly funded participatory media fee or
other progressive media policies such as a opt-in requirements for advertising,
prosumer co-ops could contribute to challenging today’s commercial media
landscape, creating democratic and collaborative social media commons.
by Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια
The International System Of Typographic Picture Education was developed
by the Viennese social scientist and philosopher Otto Neurath(1882-1945)
as a method for visual statistics (
#isotype). The work appropriates symbols from the standardised pictorial
language of ISOTYPE, drawing connections to the social engineering of post
war modernism. Moreover to illustrate two basic questions around the social
graph: who is responsible for its material structures and its classification system?
who is building the walls of the general archive?
who is the librarian of the general archive?
by Örsan Şenalp
Anti-social-graphing from a labour point of view
Ruling segments of communities have always developed mental and on-paper
maps to understand and manage the key relationships flowing through and
cutting cross ‘their peoples’, connecting their hearts and minds to each
other and, from rulers’ point of view, to the rules that put for them;
it one way or another must have been made sure that the peoples are
staying in order and obeying. It just took several millennia to advance
the level of systematic, as well as the necessary tool-kit for command
and control, before we arrive the idea of Panopticon. Building on the
idea, it did not take too long until the most sophisticated control
machinery has emerged. The composition of a big-data gathering and
storing, meta-data processing and classifying methodologies and tools,
took a form that is very close to Bentham’s original idea.
‘Meta-data’ is the classified form of big-digital data gathered and stored through
the webs of digital-sensory networks forming the global surveillance architec-
ture of which is the backbone. All the data extracted from the individuals, and
abstracted from their living community context is brought together and put at
work using high speed (near quantum) computing hardware which process
massive amount of data flows through complex algorithmic modelling software.
Many complex processes involve from gathering, storing, classification and
sorting out of the global mass-flow of the raw data, and the follow-up process-
es. Think of here the work of ranking algorithms running meta-search ‘engines’
like Google. This all package turns the Internet into an ‘intelligence’ production
network working in real-time. Most of the information about the individuals,
their inner, inter, intra, and infra relationships contain billions of raw-data, that
becomes meaningful when put in various context. The massive amount of such
data flows through the networks are captures at big-data storage, of which
size is multiplied as you I write and you read these lines. Such storages absorb
literally ‘everything’, including data makes these lines readable to you, of my
writing style, character, readers’ profile, so on.
The modern and almost realized Panopticon, the complex anti-social and
destructive relationships it is built on go well beyond the production lines of
all kinds. One has to think of and locate the concept of ‘social-graph’ against
this background in order to
grasp this concrete-complexity
from its fundamentals… Anti-
social-graphing of the complex-
totality of this surveillance
architecture, from the people’s
and worker’s point of view is
essential to figure out which
social relationships between who
are forming it. This way it would
help out us to understand the elements and working processes of global power
structures; state, corporate and civil actors acting simultaneously at local,
national, international levels. This means better identification of the weak spots
to be targeted, as well as better ideas on how and when to strike.
Counter-mapping of the production process from workers point of view, has
been a useful organising methodology developed by industrial workers of the
Fordist factory. Enriched with variety of adopted techniques it has been used
to understand how the production process is designed from the bosses’ point
of view; what role given to each departments and workers, and why; and
where would be the best time and place to strike. The idea of ‘social graph’
can be hacked in a similar way to think of and challenge the bio-, geo-, geno-,
and pysco- conditions imposed on digital, analogue, manual and mental
labour today. It can become a key tool to building new and concrete forms of
immaterial and digital labour organising.
by Tony Cage
by Bob Haugen, Lídia Pereira and Örsan Şenalp
Conversation on the Networked Labour Mailing List.
Bob Haugen - Maybe we could write something together? I’m thinking about
social graphs from a couple of angles. Unfortunately, got nothing funny - or
even pithy - yet. Both of the angles have at least two sides. Probably more.
One angle is the creeping creepiness of being globally networked by forces
beyond our control, who do not have our best interests at heart, if they have
hearts at all. The side of that that most people focus on is the creepy side. Both
Facebook and Google want to BE the Internet. And the NSA is intertwingled
with both of them. So I totally understand the paranoia. Or, it ain’t paranoia if
they are really out to get you.
TPP and stuff like that is the current global government-by-corporation at work.
But those are already the old guard. FB, Google, NSA and the algorithmic
stock traders are all part of the new guard. The global corporate government of
the future. Just like the current corporate government, it is not monolithic, but a
class coopetition.
The other side is the increasing socialization of labor, of which the social
graphs are part. If you believe like Marx did (and I do) that the increasing,
global, socialization and coordination of labor is preparing the human race for
something new, then this is all necessary. I’m thinking here of the global supply
chains, the global communication networks, the software and hardware than
runs them, and all of the labor that makes them work, down to the miners of
rare earth minerals.
We collectively built and run all that stuff. Including all the software than FB
and Google run, almost all of which was not invented by them, much of which
is open source, and the stuff that was invented “by them” was actually invented
by people who work for them, who took all of their ideas from predecessors,
etc. So FB and Google just expropriate the collective intelligence, the General
Intellect. That should all be public property running a better political-economic
system. I include Walmart in there, too. Not sure how to get that to happen, but
those are the possibilities.
The other angle is about strategy and tactics. Do we use FB and Google for
subversive purposes? Or create alternatives? Or both? I’d guess both, but I’m
not good at the former.
Lídia - I completely agree with the perspective of the Social Graph as a tool
for governance, a foucauldian technology of power which effectively objectifies
the subject by charting his/her interpersonal/non-personal (with brands,
companies, political parties, etc) relationships and general well-being with the
purpose of organisation, surveillance and value extraction. I have also come
to think of it as the architecture of the ‘social factory’, decentralised yet under
control. And here I also agree that we should provide a link to the material
conditions which allow for social networking cognitive labor.
Bob Haugen - Yes, thanks for reminding me. I should have included Amazon
and the voter databases pioneered by the Obama election organization.
I recently seem to have landed on the Elizabeth Warren mailing list. Could be
worse, I guess.
Örsan Şenalp - You did put it in a dialectical plane Bob thanks :) Thinking of
these as two core modules of, kind of, a networked map of a complex and
systemic class warfare(s) going on, probably it is good to see the both at
once to figure out the chance for the win: both social network map, or graph
of alternative and radical inter-networking of good people, their struggles,
creativities, productions, emancipatory forces and energies, and the social
graph of the elite and oppressive counterparts..