For Eran Fisher’s Media and the New Capitalism in the digital age show us how new networks can be used to find capitalism in the purest form. And some of the ideas presented by Fisher can be seen in other readings. An example is “The Political Economy of Work and Health in Silicon Valley” written by David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, this article shows how networks can create Social and Individual emancipation. Next example is Michael Spence’s article “Information technology and the integration of the global economy,” which shows us how business use networks to keep production cost down. And lastly we have Surveillance, Power, and Everyday life which show us how networks can be used to make personal advertisements for their customers and ensure there business continued success. After reading Fisher’s book and an analysis of these other readings show a trend that networks can free up capitalism into its purest form.
First article we have is “The Political Economy of Work and Health in Silicon Valley” written David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park. This article tells us the journey of social and individual emancipation of workers in the spirit of capitalism. This idea stems from the idea of that in capitalism you always have a choice. The choice to help yourself, help others, quit, or take your business elsewhere are just a few examples. And these idea directly reflect social and individual emancipation. Social emancipation is the elevation of exploitation and individual emancipation is elevation of alienation (Fisher, 23). And social emancipation is really shown in this article in two ways. First is toxicants in the work place. It is stated that “up to a thousand different chemicals and metal s are used… to produce semiconductors” (Pellow, 91). And these toxic chemicals can affect the employees and the people in the neighboring cities. In the past these issues would be squandered by the fact that nobody would know about them. And in capitalism the knowledge of these terrible acts actually affects business. It’s like the local dinner who undercooks a lot of its food or there food is just bad. As they continue to produce bad food the unsatisfied customers begin to tell their friends of the bad service and business begins to decrease. The business must change its menu or cook or it will go out of business. It is said that for every customer who is treated poorly 40 people hear about it compared to the 5 people from the positive result. With these national businesses they can make money all around the world, so losing the local business means nothing. And networks can solve this problem with one Facebook post that can be share across the world. And that’s how these employees got protection from these toxic chemicals. They formed 2 groups the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health (SCCOSH) and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) these groups made clear the “links between toxic work places and contaminated communities” (Pellow, 92). Its goes on to state that some of the problems was the visible digital divide. Which is the “social gap in access to high technology across race, class, and gender” (Pellows, 99). These groups gathered data and continued to put it out into the world until they where heard. In 1986 all semiconductor employees where tested for toxic poisoning and 46% came back positive (Pellows, 102). At the time of this article they were able to get pregnant women out of plants which toxic chemicals lead to miscarriages (Pellows, 110). And by the end of the article it indicated that these groups where still fighting in court. So these people in the factories and groups used networks online to the get social justice. It creates a national moral economy for all companies to follow. They fought to stop exploitation which granted them Social Emancipation. And also got there voice and problem heard which granted them Individual emancipation. This was all done with the use of networks.
Next we move onto the Michael Spence’s article “Information technology and the integration of the global economy.” This article helps us see how networks can help businesses and people be more productive. Fisher says that “humans are constructed and transformed through the productive process and through the technology that dominates that process” (Fisher, 176). Spencer agrees saying that “Network-based information technology makes possible dramatic reductions in the cost of day-to-day activities” (Spencer, 227). An example of this is listed in Spence’s article. The example involves waiting in line at the DMV in California. And California is home to Los Angles the place with worst traffic in the world. He states that the old way to register cars would be to go the DMV take a whole day off of work and wait in line all day until you go your car registered (Spencer, 227). Now a days you can go online and do it in 2 minutes (Spencer, 227). This really boost the productivity of California. That’s one less day that every car owner has to take off. One less day short on labor at a company and everything just moves faster. Another example is a lot of basic human actions can be turning into computer and network action. Like collection of data and sorting of that data. Instead of paying a bunch of people to do that a computer can store it all online and do it almost instantaneously (Spencer, 229). This saves time, increases productivity and severely decreases the price. And in capitalism business are really competing to and the cheaper production you have the better chance you have over other companies. Automation is the best way to ensure that you survive another year. A common counter argument is that this way actually hurts us because it eliminates jobs but it also creates jobs in other job sectors. The more computer mean the more IT people are needed to keep it up. Also need people to create these programs that make this all possible. Fisher continues to talk about constructive chaos (68). This is that these programs and machines need to break to create flexibility and improve the process (68). An example is a program that does addition but someone enters a negative number and the programs does not know what to do. So the programmer must fix it and making a strong program. So as these programs and process are tested people must find creative solutions to solve the problems that break the systems. This is just some of the ways in which networks can increase production and efficiency and continue to increase.
Another thing that networks allows is for consumer’s access to the goods they want. In Eran Fisher’s book he talks about the person in real life merging with the online body. Fisher states that “Humans can no longer be understood as separate from technology (Fisher, 173). This is shown in David Lyon’s article “Surveillance, Power and Everyday Life.” This article bring use to light of datavailance which is the collection of data of used in a person’s life (Lyon, 458). Business use this information to make personal advertisements. An example of this is Targets programs to indicate when a mother is pregnant. Target was able to cross-reference the credit card records of people who later went on the baby registry. From this information they went back in time to the 7-8 months before the baby was due and found the thing that women buy when they initially get pregnant. And from that list they made another list of 20 items bought when women first get pregnant. And whoever buys enough of the items on that list get sent an ad that has a few extra coupons for discounts on baby supplies. Online companies also use this information to make better business decisions. Google and search engines will track your shadow bodies. Shadow bodies can be used by search engines to show articles that agree with your personal beliefs. This is influential as if a person like the article you give to them they are more likely to return to that website. Same goes with amazon anything you search is saved and is put in the “Item other shopper looked at” category. This category is pretty much looking at the shadow bodies of people who looked at the same item as you. Some people may see this as an invasion of privacy but to business it’s a way to advertise a product to a person that they might be willing to buy.
After Looking at Fishers book through the lens of these reading you can see that networks allow for capitalism to work in its purest form. First by Pellow and Parks article we can see how it creates social and individual emancipation. Followed by Spencer’s article we can see how it reduces cost of production. And finally Lyon’s article show us how it can sell the product better. All of these instants show how networks can make capitalism better for everyone.
Fisher, E. (2010). Media and new capitalism in the digital age: The spirit of networks. New York, NY:
David Lyon, “Surveillance, power, and everyday life,” in R. Mansell et al. eds., The Oxford Handbook of Information and Communication Technologies (2007).
David Naguib Pellow and Lisa Sun-Hee Park, “The political economy of work and health in silicon valley,” in The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy (2002).
Michael Spence, “Information technology and the integration of the global economy,” in The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World (2011).