Kate Eichhorn is an assistant professor of Culture and Media Studies at The New School. Her research focuses on material culture, the theory and practice of the archive, and the poetics of everyday life. Recent articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Public Culture, Invisible Culture, Cultural Studies = Critical Methodologies and Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. She is also the author of two books of poetry, including Fond (2008), and co-editor of Prismatic Publics (2009). She serves as Review Editor for Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies and is currently completing a book-length study entitled Reading the Refuse: Archiving and the Poetics of Everyday Life.
Are the Poets Using You?
A Reading and Discussion with Nick Montford and Darren Wershler
Corporations are not alone in the desire to expropriate the value of online users’ labor. Alongside corporate entities, writers and artists are redeploying users’ work and works, words and images, codes and innovations. In contrast to corporations, however, their gain is primarily aesthetic rather than monetary, but is expropriated labor for aesthetic gain necessarily less problematic than expropriated labor for monetary gain? More importantly, what might we learn about the complexity and contradictions of digital labor from writers and artists who chose to work within commercial platforms, especially those actively appropriating other users’ labor? Is their work a mere extension and/or enacted critique of corporate expropriations of online users’ everyday forms of participation and creation? More broadly, what decisions drive writers and artists to work within or outside commercial platforms, and to what extent do these decisions affect their status as cultural workers, the nature of their work and its long-term archivability? In this reading and moderated discussion, writers Nick Montfort and Darren Wershler investigate the possibilities and limitations of cultural production produced both within and against commercial platforms and the meaning of digital labor across literary and artistic communities.