Well, I guess I’m a loser. I guess billions of people around the world are losers for that matter. Todays blog entry will examine a paper written by Søren Mørk Petersen called Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation. More specifically, the entry will examine three claims made by Petersen. Firstly, we will examine Petersen’s claim of relational thinking and how this relates to Web 2.0. Next, we will look at general intellect and capitalism, subjects raised often by Petersen throughout the paper. Finally, we will analyze Petersen’s harsh criticisms of Web 2.0 and its users. Petersen who claims Web 2.0 is “transforming users into losers” makes numerous valid claims, but also leaves himself open to various criticisms as well.
Relational thinking is never specifically defined by Petersen. He does offer an example about Flickr attempting to explain the concept, but even after this attempt one may still be confused. As outlined on the official Relational Thinking website there are three steps to relational thinking. Step one, “learning to see public policy and personal issues through a relational lens.” Step two, “changing goals, values and practices of organisations.” Finally, step three, “developing an analytical framework appropriate to relationships.” After understanding this outline, Petersen’s example begins to make more sense. Each of his three steps on Flickr represent a step in the relational thinking process. With that said, I don’t know how many people on Flickr take this three step process when uploading an image. Personally, I don’t have Flickr so I can’t speak for myself, but I can’t imagine that each and every Flickr user is so concerned with the relations that are created through uploading a photo. Even more confidently I can assume that it is rare for a Flickr user to “be contacted by other parties who would like to include the photo in a magazine or a Web 2.0 tourist guide” (Petersen). Examining such a claim leaves me feeling somewhat insulted to be called a loser, and I certainly don’t feel assertions regarding general intellect or capitalism should induce such name calling either.
Petersen makes a strong, passionate assertion when he states, “automation and hereby the mobilization of the general intellect are primarily fostered by machinery, infrastructure and communication technologies”. A valid statement which undoubtedly most people can relate too. When Petersen furthers his assumptions to suggest, “this creates the capitalistic vision of a world market but at the same time, according to Marx, also creates a capitalistic nightmare”, our agreement ends. To jump to the conclusion that our expanding automation and mobilization are creating a world market is extremely fallacious through cause and effect. There is no denying that automation and mobilization are occurring, I believe less would say the same about the capitalistic vision of a world market. Even assuming both of the cases were inevitable, it is fallacious to directly tie A to B without adequate justification between the two. Surely Web 2.0, rapid growth of technology and automation have had a serious impact on capitalism and the economy as a whole, but I highly doubt that this alone will lead to “capitalistic nightmare.” Two claims down and I am still considered a loser? Is it really Web 2.0 that has made us “losers” or have ‘users always been losers’ to the corporation?
There is no doubt that numerous people put plenty of time into their personal profiles on Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc. Sure these are online and sometimes just for fun, but in many cases are important professional ways of being seen or even making a few dollars from home. These services must of course be provided through companies who host the sites, and the goal of any corporation is of course, profit. In exchange for the services provided by the companies, users are shown advertisements, which are often targeted directly to the user based on recent clicks. Additionally, on rare occasions the companies may ask you to use a picture or some piece of information you provided on your profile. This doesn’t sound much different than similar companies who don’t exist online. Readers Digest for example, encourages readers to send them pictures or stories which they will use in upcoming copies of the magazine. Like most magazines, RD contains advertisements and numerous people are still willing to pay for the newest addition. So does this make users losers? Or is this simple a part of being society? To live, someone will always be making money from the human race. In turn, they will spend their money on a product which will bring money to someone else. The economic wheel is endless and Web 2.0 is only a small part of this, not a deadly database of losers.
So call me a loser if you wish Mr. Petersen. Personally, I believe I am just a contributing member of society. A society which has begun to move online. A society which is changing and evolving at an alarming rate. A society, where labour is being replaced by technology yet we are still functioning properly. The world has gone through numerous massive changes and Web 2.0 is just a very small phase which will likely pass sooner rather than later, to make fallacious assumptions that Web 2.0 will lead to “capitalistic nightmare”, in my opinion Mr. Petersen, makes you the loser.
Although, your claims do raise one very good question…
What Have We Turned Into
– Ian McDougald
Petersen, Søren Mørk. “Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation.”www.firstmonday.org. First Monday, 3 Mar. 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2012. <http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2141/1948>.