Visualizations of the New Economy

When Castells outlines the particular dynamics of the Network Society (proper capitalizations for proper nouns!) in his 2000 article, he spends a significant section of the paper, about one or two pages, discussing the economic elements of the Network Society. In hindsight Castells describes what we would refer to at this time as the post-Fordist society, insomuch that the mass production of similar goods falls to the wayside for the digital, the creative, and the information industries. Making an iPod, in this western world for enlightened western workers, is a foolhardy endeavor. Have a unionized worker build you an iPod to sell and you feed him for a day while severely draining Apple profit margins. Teach a man the importance of programming and software design and you have him in debt for a lifetime until he makes that brand new app that makes Apple billions. Instead of our physical labour the development of a networked society allows a free enterprise of our creative and mental capacities. And of course:

nohigherfreedom

But another rant on the creative and intellectual industry is not particularly insightful. Castells was writing this understanding of what was to become of the economy seventeen year ago. Discussing the particularities of “the individualization of labour” (p. 12) is infinitely more fruitful.

Example 1: Financialization and the Buying and Selling of Debt
In case you haven’t watched it, John Oliver does a twenty minute piece discussing how people’s debts are bought and sold amongst banks and collection companies.

For expediency’s sake, the briefest summary possible of the process itself is that banks and payday lone companies run a cost benefit analysis of pursuing particular debts that are longstanding and seem far more difficult to claim than it might be for the company to turn a profit. In practice this process causes a lot of problems (naturally) but in principle this seems utterly emblematic of Castells’ description of the Networked Society’s economy. Only the digital infrastructure would make this process of transferring records and credit be profitable as what’s being sold is “just a spreadsheet”. Only the individualist society which requires an individual to take serious debt to function would give the circumstances. Yet this is not just debt, for even the growing importance of the ever nebulous stock exchange through the growing power of trust funds and bonds adds onto the overarching process of Financialization. In essence: the idea of money is being sold for actual money.

Example 2: Making Capitalism Fun* Again

In a slightly more MRP related spin, find below an article on relatively successful Diablo 3 (a video game produced by Blizzard).

http://venturebeat.com/2014/03/19/meet-the-gamers-who-earned-big-in-the-now-closed-diablo-iii-real-money-auction-house/

While the work done by Christopher Antoni was very much work, especially for a game that had so many people leave it so quickly, what’s particularly interesting is that this work was done “on the back” of a more established work of the cultural industry. In the case of the auction house it was even fully endorsed.

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