[Marxism] Cognitive surplus

Jeffrey Thomas Piercy snail at mqduck.net
Tue Jul 20 10:03:03 MDT 2010

On 07/20/2010 07:47 AM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> Using behavioural research, the optimistic author insists people 
> are far less driven by money and self-interest than we've allowed 
> ourselves to believe. "Many of the unexpected uses of 
> communications tools are surprising," he writes, "because our old 
> beliefs about human nature were so lousy."

Check out One Million Giraffes:

I heard an interview with the guy being it on KPFA. Listen if you want
to feel happy for a while:

Every now and then, I'm reminded that I fundamentally like humanity.

> Such triumphal 
> collective endeavours as Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, are 
> the work not of paid employees but amateur enthusiasts.

While I basically agree with the point, I don't know how "triumphant"
Wikipedia will be in the long run. It's policies of "Notability" are
only growing more destructive, it's backing down on it's previous
"Wikipedia is not censored" principal and the whole thing is policed by
by moderators and their fellow established editors who have grown a
sense of and exercise a kind of ownership over the whole thing.

To a large degree, it's simply the result of a project of Wikipedia's
size needing rules and some way to enforce them. But I increasingly feel
that there's something poisonous in the culture there, and the way it's
shaping those emerging rules and organization. I could try to elaborate
later when my brain is operating at full capacity, if anybody really cares.

> He also gives the lie to the idea that new technologies have 
> altered human behaviour, arguing convincingly that they have 
> allowed merely for more elegant incarnations of old habits. 
> Teenagers have always been emotional oversharers, be it by 
> telephone, text or Facebook. People have always shared music, by 
> hand or via Napster. Grandparents have always cherished 
> communication with their families, only now letter-writing has 
> morphed into emailing for an unexpected generation of tech-savvy 
> "silver surfers".

There's something very important that's missed by this. Filesharing and
such technologies have allowed the circumvention of laws necessary for
the commodification of goods that can be reproduced at zero cost, laying
bare the total absurdity of it for all to see, while also demonstrating
that a state of abundance renders capitalism, shall we say,
technologically obsolete.

See also: Free-as-in-freedom/open-source software

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