n.e.w.s. is a collective online platform for the analysis and development of art-related activity, drawing upon contributions from around the globe, bringing together different voices, accents and outlooks from the North, East, West and South. | Read more..

value

Friday, 25. January 2013 | 01:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Uselessness, Refusal, Art, and Money (encounters with David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value).

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On Reading  Alone

I report here on an encounter with a book, and an encounter with the problems of reading itself.  The book: David Graeber's Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value.  which I picked up following the trail of Marcel Mauss' The Gift (Graeber's book is a meditation on the differing visions of Mauss and Marx for economic life as read through the lens of anthropology).  If you operate outside of institutions, which I typically do, one book leads to another and another along solitary and idiosyncratic paths.  You often find yourself in a cloud of companionship with people you've never met, some living, some dead, some speaking native languages you have no acquaintance with.  This is thrilling, but a little surreal. As you'll see, Towards an Anthropological Theory of Value was a pleasure to wrestle with and test ideas against, but for me it also represented the moment where I turned from an ideal of books engendering books in the future, to books as a way of making relationships in the present.

 
21/03/2010 - 31/12/2010 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

Paid Usership forum

 

Paid Usership

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Contrary to mainstream practice – with its residual romanticism of solitary authorship and single-signature value – we at n.e.w.s. contend that value is always collectively produced through linguistic cooperation (polemics or just idle chatter) – that is, through the collective intellect. Of course people already get paid for online content – but they are often the wrong people, because they are not all the people who worked to produce that content. Our paradoxical objective is to leverage the potential of participative technologies and communities to ensure that user-produced value be remunerated. Because n.e.w.s. is a non-commercial platform, without any institutional structural subsidy, we have been investigating alternative models of exchange and collaboration, retooling our critical lexicon: instead of the seemingly self-evident binaries of producer/consumer, we have opted for the more inclusive and extensive category of usership – of the paid variety.

Over the past twenty years, people working in the cultural sector have come to use the web not only as a means of communication and distribution but as a medium for artistic and curatorial production, such as online contexts for the analysis and development of art-related activities. But it is also the place where people engage in discourse about the nature of those precarious forms of knowledge and labour produced within it. The challenge of facilitating return generated not only from attention getting but also from finding means of ensuring sustainability through potential models of gifting, immaterial labour, surplus capital and niche development could all be plausible models for paid usership.

Gift, Debt and Return: speculations on the cultural economy

Okay, so everybody wants to be paid to use. But the very idea continues to sound pretty counterintuitive even to the most open-minded, and downright heretical to orthodox twentieth-century economics. Let’s quickly run through some of the conceptual underpinnings of the whole notion.