Just out in a new book edited by Peter Bramham and Stephen Wagg's, I have a chapter titled 'Towards Web 3.0: Mashing up Work and Leisure' .
Here's the book's blurb:
This book explores the new politics of leisure and pleasure in relation to a range of popular activities. Current generations in Western societies are essentially recipients of the changes that the Sixties – fabled decade of sex, drugs and rock n' roll - left behind. In their leisure lives – whether drinking, reading, surfing the net, taking drugs, going to a comedy gig, watching TV, taking a holiday, downloading music, supporting a football club, having a bet, having sex or simply roaming the countryside – people seem to enjoy unprecedented freedoms. But what are these freedoms? How are they exercised? And to what extent have traditional controls been relinquished?
Here's an excerpt from my chapter's Conclusion:
Conclusion: The Rise of Transient Media
What would Clarke and Critcher have made of Web 3.0 back in the 1980s? What for them would have been the most profound transformations in how leisure is organized and experienced? Would it have been the way in which leisure consumers became complicit in their own surveillance by large corporations who seek to sell data about their leisure activity to any number of third parties? Would it have been the debates about censorship that rely heavily on highly questionable claims about media effects. Alternatively, would the way that internet labour is organized by communities through open source programming have been seen as the major transformation of our leisure practices?
One overarching concern seems to have been the potential harm that such technology could create for society at large. Back in the 1980s, the connectivity and communication opportunities that would arise from the rise of the Internet were hardly evident. Tim Berners Lee had yet to type the note that became the first description of the Internet on November 12 1990. Indeed, the word Internet did not even appear in Clarke and Critcher’s index. That said, speculations about the networked society were present in the lived reality of science fiction works, such as Neuromancer, the definitive cyberpunk romance novel. In the two decades since Clarke and Critcher, the Internet has more than one story to tell about how it has altered our leisure experiences.
Ten years after the publication of The Devil Makes Work, around 35million people were online worldwide (Kitchin 1998). Another ten years later in 2009, over 1.5 billion people are online and growth in all regions of the world remains high, though penetration varies considerably (5.6% in Africa versus 74.4% in North America) (see Internet World Stats 2009). In terms of the global digital divide, change is also still occurring. For example, the Chinese online population exceeded the US in 2008 and its mobile ‘phone population exceeds the entire UK population four times (China Internet Network Information Center, 2007). We can observe how the Internet has evolved and answer tentatively what sort of space it has become. We know that people use the Internet for many kinds of pursuit, from watching movies to having ‘cybersex’, with many different practices in between. It is also clear that the Internet is an arena for work-based activity and that, with the rise of social media environments, there is an increasing level of leisure based interactions in the workplace as a result. In fact, one of the dimensions of the internet in the 21st century is how leisure activity can be construed as a kind of labour.
The Internet has not transformed leisure completely. Instead, its most dramatic effect has been its ability to create new questions about issues the culture industries had thought were resolved, such as the attribution of intellectual property or censorship. There is no clean break between the Internet and these other leisure experiences, though it is frequently clear how the emergence of some new online artefact creates catastrophic consequences for other leisure forms. The sharing of music and film through such platforms as the early Napster, the more recent Pirate Bay and the newest Spotify are exemplars of this temporary system failure.
At a time of recession and amidst considerable optimism within the online world, one might wonder when the second Internet bubble will burst. It seems far too early to predict, but the collapse of the first bubble seems to have brought a maturity of expectations to online entrepreneurialism, there is a different culture of risk taking evident in how collaboration takes place. However, perhaps the most defining dimension of computing culture is its transient character. We cannot commit to the idea that any single platform we see today will be in use 10 years from now. As noted earlier, Twitter’s challenge to Google – which tried to buy it in 2008 for $500 million – is testimony to this idea. Thus, the concept of transient media seems an appropriate way of describing today’s media culture, because it draws attention to the fluidity of digital environments. It describes both the labour markets that underpin their development and the leisure communities that use them. The mashing-up of data described in the title also talks to this notion, since the relevant, enduring condition of the digital space will not rely on form, but on the cultural value attached to that performative act of mashing up.
Miah, A. (2010) Towards Web 3.0: Mashing up Work and Leisure, in P. Bramham and S. Wagg. The New Politics of Leisure and Pleasure. Palgrave Macmillan.