The Internet as Playground and Factory
Author: Remigijus Marciulis
In recent years, the labour theory of value has been a field of intense interest and debates, particularly the use of Marxist concepts in the digital context. There are straight facts showing that giant online companies like Facebook and Google have accumulated enormous amounts of capital by selling their users’ data to advertisers. The phenomena of a ‘Social Factory’ is discussed by different scholars. The value we create go beyond actual factory walls, including the online sphere. “The sociality is industrialised and industry is socialised” (Jarrett, 2016: 28). Trebor Scholz refers the Internet as a ‘playground’ and ‘factory’. His argument is based on the fact that being online is a part of having fun. Is it really uploading a video on YouTube counts as a digital exploitation? On the other hand, Christian Fuchs says that there is a straight connection between the time spent on the Internet and the capitalist exploitation, free labour and surplus-value. Kylie Jarrett tackles the subject from a metaphoric angle of the Digital Housewife. She applies concepts of Marx and feminist approaches by investigating the digital world. According to her, a digital or immaterial labour is profoundly exploited by capitalism.
The interview with Dr Alessandro Gandini explores subjects of digital labour and ‘playbour’, the use and appropriateness of Marxist concepts. To sum up, the subject of digital labour and exploitation is complex and diverse. It requires a more profound study that distinguishes the “real” digital work and time spent online for leisure. Scholars agree that the communicative action and activism are the main key instruments fighting against digital capitalist inequalities.