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
We bid you all welcome to the fourth issue of
the Immaterial Labour Union Zine!
We dedicate this issue to the question of the
user profile, the digital ID which supposedly
allows you to represent your networked
self. Of course, this raises more questions
than it answers. What is representation?
What are the political consequences of the
constructed, heavily curated online persona?
Which protocols define the process of identity
Lídia Pereira
formation? How are they economically
engaged? Do template restrictions outweigh
Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια
the possibilities for self expression? Who is
the default template?
Contributions range from reflecting about
Geert Lovink, Steve Rushton,
anonimity, feedback, self-performance and
Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια,
the economical instrumentalisation of identity,
Mihail Bakalov, Lúcia Dossin,
to the presentation of cynical platforms of
Mathijs van Oosterhoudt
interpersonal unification and anatomies of the
categorised online self.
Would you like to contribute?
July 3rd, 2015
Subscribe to the mailing list :
by Lídia Pereira and Mathijs van Oosterhoudt
Facebook registration process
1. first we identify you and verify your existence
2. please also provide us your birthday for a customized experience
according to your age
3. then decide if you are a man or a woman and decide this now
4. and what else... you can’t become without agreeing with our terms
5. this bondage starts hardcore (gmail notification sound!)
6. we have established a cross platform collaboration for your
7. connectivity rules! you are not alone
8. while we categorise your geolocation we also want to start building
your cultural profile
9. please begin with the educational and academic aspects of you
10. connectivity didn’t go away, do not worry
11. find your friends, they might feel lonely without you here
12. is connectivity obvious?
13. if not obvious enough we are offering you a chance to see it by
connecting to the world through your face
14. the history of cameras has always been a strong fight against
surveillance and face recognition for state purposes
15. we build your profile through tagging and assigning yourself to
particular categories
16. we all deserve one more coherent layer in our face recognition and
connectivity within the network
17. and here we are you just have to classify yourself under these
interest categories while our algorithm will provide you with what you like
what you want to see and what you are
18. in case of unstable identities this is the place to understand who you
really are, don’t rely on yourself, it’s meaningless
19. what makes you what you are is your endless fight with our
by Geert Lovink
The hedonistic dotcom excesses at the turn of the millennium were over by the
2001 financial crisis and 9/11 attacks. The War on Terror aborted the desire
for a serious parallel ‘second self’ culture and instead gave rise to a global
surveillance and control industry. To this assault on freedom, Web 2.0 tactically
responded with coherent, singular identities in sync with the data owned by
police, security and financial institutions.
Within Facebook there are no hippie dropouts just a pathological dimension of
commitment to the Real Self going hand in hand with the comfort of being only
amongst friends in a safe, controlled environment. No punks or criminalized
migrant street culture either. Differences of choice are celebrated so long as
they’re confined to one identity. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg puts it like
this: “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
Says venture capitalist Peter Thiel, “Facebook rival MySpace is about being
someone fake on the Internet; everyone could be a movie star.” Thiel considers
it “very healthy that the real people have won out over the fake people.”
As a result there is little freedom anymore to present yourself in multiple ways
online. Social networking sites, anticipating this movement towards security
(one identity) coupled with by our personal desire for comfort, offer their users
a limited, user-friendly range of choice for submitting private and professional
data to the world.
The public pressure to refrain from anonymity cannot be countered without a
better understanding of the ‘self management’ manifesting in online portfolios,
dating sites and Facebook.iv In the Web 2.0 age the drive to self-realisation
is deeply embedded in society. According to Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz, the
modern self is an autonomous entity incapable of valorising itself, enmeshed
as it is in social and political structures. Social media should be seen as only
the latest incarnation of these institutions. In her 2007 book Cold Intimacies
Illouz illustrates how capitalism has been turned into an “emotional culture”,
contrary to the commonly held view that commodification, wage labour and
profit-driven activities create ‘cold’ and calculated relationships. She describes
the rise of
“emotional capitalism” within a public sphere saturated with the
exposure of private life (and vice versa, the ‘hot distance’). Through the service
industry, affect becomes an essential aspect of economic behaviour—and a
fashionable object of contemporary theory. According to Illouz “it is virtually im-
possible to distinguish the rationalization and commodification of selfhood from
the capacity of the self to shape and help itself and to engage in deliberation
and communication with others.” There is a narrative in the making, says Illouz,
which aspires to self-realization, and that plays itself out within institutional and
semi-public settings such as the self-help sector and online platforms. “The
prevalence and persistence of this narrative, which we may call as shorthand
a narrative of recognition, is related to the interests of social groups operating
within the market, in civil society, and within the institutional boundaries of the
Illouz emphasizes that it becomes harder to distinguish between our
professional and private self. In the competitive networking context of work, we
are trained to present ourselves as the best, fastest and smartest. At the same
time we are aware that this is only an artificial, made-up image of ourselves
and that our ‘real’ self is different which is what celebrities have been grappling
with for decades.
In a Skype interview I did with Illouz, she stressed the long-term decoupling of
private life from the private sphere. She said: “We should not blame technology
for the loss of private life. The pornofication of culture and the political-
economic push for increased transparency of private life have been on the rise
for decades, and the internet has only institutionalized these trends.”
There might be three ways to counter the self-promotion machine. One way is
to disrupt its self-evidence. Talking about the dark side of positive thinking is a
first step to recover from the mass delusion of smile or die, and more effective
than simply joking about the absence of a ‘dislike’ button in Facebook or about the
one-dimensional representation of relationships where ‘friending’ is the only option.
Another way out is to dismantle the consumer desire that drives the self-promotion
machine to begin with. In this argument the marketing of the self is not so much
a narcissistic venture aiming to satisfy one’s inner needs but is primarily powered
by the fast consumption of objects external to us, the unstoppable drive to collect
more and more stuff—from friends and lovers to brand products, services and
other quasi-exclusive short lived experiences. It has become irresistible to not sign
up, in part because of the ruthless way the Facebook algorithm contacts potential
new users for instance via inported email address books, inviting them to become
your friend. This is the naïve model of eternal growth promoted by Facebook’s
or Twitter that never stop measuring you by your amount of tweets. To live a
tweetless life is constructed as not living.
The third way to dismantle the performance of the self and self-disclosure is to
revisit anonymity in today’s context. The question is how to re-imagine anonymity
not as an attainable categorical state, but as a way to recoup an energy of meta-
morphosis, the desire to become someone else.
In 1929 Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own: “I would venture to guess
that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
In the context of social media the question is how to integrate offline acts into
the equation without turning the real world into the next snobbish wave. Can
the existing platforms only be used in the shadow of events to come? Networks
prepare the groundwork through their ‘weak links’; it’s what they are good at.
Their role in real-time communication, once events unfold, remains overrated.
If everything worked out networks would have already kicked-off the erosion
of existing power structures. What will happen once we overcome the fear of
surveillance and control? Will anonymous action, like voting in public elections, no
longer be necessary because that information will be publically available by other
means? Or should we remain cautious and see the carnaval balle masque as the
temporary state of exception?
(Taken from “Anonimity and the Self”)
by Lúcia Dossin
Cassandra is a voice-
-operated chatbot, aimed
at making psychological
profiles during the
conversations. These
profiles are shown as pie
charts where personality
aspects are represented
by a color. The graphics
are accompanied by a
short analysis and a list of companies possibly interested in the profile. In
this sense, the bot provides data that can act as a mediator in services like
job-seeking and dating. The profile then becomes a digital representation
of the user and if loaded onto a card it can be used as a kind of digital key
to personalize every gadget in the near future of the Internet of Things.
By knowing you, Cassandra can decide what kind of music you prefer,
what books you should read, what fashion brand you should wear and who
will be your romantic partner so that you are free from the hassle of having
to choose and can focus on what matters most: enjoying your life.
The market for code and emotions
There is a reasonably high number of similar products and services on
the market as of now. They offer commercial or personal advice, simulate
relationships, and in different ways intertwine code and emotions.
I hereby assume a cynical position and portray the user as a pie chart
- colorful and unique, but still a pie chart. By doing that, I believe to be
exercising ‘playful critique’ to practices like this.
by Steve Rushton
We ourselves are involved in an information economy every time we log on to
Facebook or send an email, wherever the circulation of information heightens
our visibility.
In an era when direct government intervention is despised (I don’t need
handouts from Big Government!), new technologies of self-control have
grown to replace it, as a greater part of our lives is taken up with the ‘work of
watching’ and the ‘work of being watched’.
The reality TV show, for instance, is predicated on the idea of feedback.
Indeed, one might understand the new media mix as a circuit of production
that collapses the differences between producer and consumer. This has
very interesting consequences economically because, although we work
to make this media happen, we are paid little or no money for the work we
do - in fact, in most cases we pay out of our own pocket. The profit from our
work actually goes to the (TV) production companies, the phone companies
and big media conglomerates, along with the media retail outlets that sell us
upgraded equipment. As a consequence of all this, we can no longer say we
live in the ‘society of the spectacle’. We are everything but passive consumers
of products; we live in a society of self-performance in which we constantly
present ourselves and excite the interest of others in what we do, and this
self-performance is a commodity that has a price. I don’t think I am straying
into the realms of science fiction if I suggest that contemporary media have
created a form of immediacy in which human subjectivity is the principal object
of production and consumption, and media serve to facilitate that production
and consumption. Laurie Ouellette and James Hay, in Better Living Through
Reality TV (2008), link Michel Foucault’s idea of ‘governmentality’ with current
neo-liberal strategies of ‘privatisation’, ‘volunteerism’, ‘entrepreneurism’,
‘responsabilisation’, which extend media production into the realm of political
reasoning. By ‘governmentality’ I mean that we are governed by the material
practices of discourse, which are distinct from government per se. It is the
regime of constant testing, perpetual visibility and self-reliance that governs
and produces us as subjects.
The imperative to perform has been a
subject of discussion form some time, of
course, and has been variously described
by the ‘experience economy’ (Jim Gilmore
and Joe Pine), ‘immaterial labour’ (Maurizio
Lazzarato), ‘the control society’ (Gilles
Deleuze), ‘the mode of information’ (Mark
Poster), ‘the weightless society’ (Charles
Leadbeater), ‘the networked society’
(Manuel Castells), and as the engine
behind the ‘new spirit of capitalism’ (Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello). All
attempt to explain the shift from the manufacturing society, which is based on
physical labor and material products, to a networked society, which is based on
the exchange of information.
Through the necessary exchange of data about ourselves we are being herded
into what Mark Andrejevic calls a ‘digital enclosure’ in which our identities
(or profiles) can be constructed and in which we can be identified as very
particular consumers. Ultimately, our own perfomance becomes a commodity
for exchange. So the digital age essentially represents a new discipline of
management relations and - perhaps, it would be fair to say - a new discipline
of self-management. It also represents a new era of political management.
(Taken from “Feedback and Self-Performance” in “Masters of Reality”)
by Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια
by Mihail Bakalov
With ‘Online Doubled’ users can experience social networks in a different way!
IF :
-> You are a user who reposts stuff that you like,
-> You are keen on posting a link and adding a smiley or not adding anything,
-> You are a person who is profiting from the information overload and you find
from the abundance of opinions online one that suits you best, instead of wasting
ime to write your own,
-> You don’t engage in long debates and you follow the fast pace of the Internet,
trying to catch the most of it,
Then this tool is for you!
‘Online Doubled’ is a new search engine to help users find others with similar
likes and fascinations.
First you must log in to your Facebook profile
through our application. Then your profile will be
analyzed and all the links you have posted will
be gathered. Afterwards this information will be
compared to other people’s shared content. The
app searches for other users who have posted
the same links and shared the same opinions
as you. As a result you will be presented with a
ranked list showing you similar users, ordered
by degree of resemblance to your content. The
more descriptive you are, the more people you
will find. You will then be able to connect with
Out now w(orld)s(ocial)w(eb)
by Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια
A User Profile is supposed to digitally represent one’s identity , but it is forming
and constructing the individual, particularly in the online world. Moreover it
provides a template for exercise of control between corporation and their users
and among users themselves. Outside the corporate definition framework
one can see that user profiles are attached to the concepts of customisation,
authentication, identification and engage the individual in an endless process
of rules accepting.
A User Profile is a linguistic construction that mediates a social construction,
one’s identities, but also the choices of the individual although they are
template choices, which shows that our user profiles enforce a controlled
curation of identity.
User profiles are supposed to represent oneself in the digital and networked
context. But they construct the person and not just represent it. They produce a
self that can be organised and remotely accessed. They algorithmically render
subjects as objects by reconstructing them field by field through data entering
and manipulation of the collections created.
User profiles mediate the human becoming in expanded information societies.
Restricted from protocols, archived, strategically connected, unified even
through multiplicity. Creating a coherent identity through fragments.
Customisation, authentication, identification engage individuals with restrictions
limitations and obligations to an unlimited template culture.
Geert Lovink wrote that luckily there is no true self. Databases and profiles
create a self where a self doesn’t exist. A self constructed out of information.