Monday, January 21, 2013

Thesis 11 of 95: Are Vendors People?

People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

One of the difficulties in making these posts, especially with the themes I've been using, is that sometimes, the  theses pretty much all I want to say. Thus, I might sound a little redundant at times.

A more market reductionist person would maybe question the distinction the theses makes between "one another" and "vendors". Vendors, they would say, are people. People who happen to sell commodities.

Now, I'm not going to question the personhood of vendors, but to say that there isn't a difference in social relation between "the common person" and the "salesman" is to miss the point. The salesman works in commoditizing the social world, while the common person is subjected to that commoditization. In absence of this commoditization, the common person, who is always a part of the social world, would interact with it in a different way. We should be clear that "different way" might not inherently be the "better way".

The decommoditization of information and social activity leads to less dependence on this way of regulating the social.

Thats about all I have in me today.

See you soon, Thesis 12



Let me know if you did and I can maybe reward you in some way.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thesis 10 of 95: I'm The Chairman of the Board

Part of the blogging project about the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. You can find all the posts in the project here. (PLEASE CHECK IT OUT THESE ARE AWESOME PEOPLE)

As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

I don't know why we've, (or maybe just me) have internalized this notion of good posts being long posts. I'd take a "Theses on Feuerbach" over an "Atlas Shrugged" every day.

Anyway, yes, the Conversational Market changes us. It has mostly, made us bored. I believe that nothing else can explain Farmville, or Paul Krugman having an actual audience (although that might just be Peak Liberalism).

Because this Conversational Market has appeared inside of the Commodity Market it is still relegated to it and regulated by it. It has made work, arguably, more effective and has devalued the employer in the workplace. Any good socialist knows that the employer does not serve any actually useful function. All the employers authority, at least in large-scale corporate environments, derives from the notions that well, they labored yesterday probably. Or, their dad, or dads dad, labored and is now dead. Nonetheless, there are certain, other ways in which they can justify their position.

One of the ways is information. Your employer understanding the commodity market and making investments. Your employer overseeing the costs and risks of production and employing labor force. Your employer taking part in organizing work. The list goes on.

The Conversational Market, as the nucleus in the Commodity Market, doesn't require as much human expertise in delegating its information. Various ways of organizing and understanding  the world around and inside the workplace (which Kevin Carson may inform you of) have been, in a sense, fundamentally transformed. I don't really see, in a managerial sense, the reason why these employer-employee relations should be fundamentally more efficient in dealing with information than a cooperative in the modern state of the economy.

I point this out, because its true, and its interesting and on topic,  but I'll have to add that the internal organization of a workplace is not the most pressing issue that networked forms of social organization has to address. Most of these workplaces produce stupid things for us to waste our money on, or they produce things that people are in fundamental needs for, but destroy because reasons.

That is, the workplace is affected, but what we need to take conscious control of is whether or not these workplaces should exist in the first place.

See you soon, Thesis 11



Let me know if you did and I can maybe reward you in some way.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thesis 9 of 95: Utopian? Really?

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. All posts in the project can be found here.

Pew, I'm behind the schedule.
I'm also hecka tired. So this is either going to be short and concise, or long and unedited. Anyway.

These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

This is fairly obvious. I think most people understand this. The thing is, I don't think many people understand the impact of these new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange. Believe it or not, 2013, people still think the internet is forever going to be secondary to the regular old capitalist way of production, exchange and consumption. Because we are still so blinded by remnants of our old value system, we fail to so reality as it is.

People think of the possibility of a tool that could change the way we satisfy our needs, make our social connections, and completely eradicate any practical need for borders and nation-states (yes I am serious), as some sort of Utopia. People are still waiting for it to die, like a lover who's been looking for a soulmate all their life and finds it, and refused to believe their love is answered. We've become so used to misery that the thought of a stable and happy world seems alien to us.

Of course, the internet is not Utopian. It is very real. It's effect on us, and our effect on it, is very real. The pragmatism and the "we have to think rationally about this"-crowd who always doubt the possibilities of new forms of society on the ground of it being "just a dream" are most of the time, the most ideologically driven of us all. What is really Utopian, is a world in which restricting the flow of information leads to economical growth, and full employment is a rational and plausible goal of any healthy society. It is not so.

We're so invested in our own delusions that reality has become a dream. Ideology. My god. No wonder people feel that the political sphere is so alien to them, like it is not a real part of society, but outside it. They know that what is said in the debates are not accurate descriptions of their reality, deep inside, but accept it without question because this is how politics is done.

Knowledge exchange is powerful. The advantage of the internet in this knowledge exchange over the old form of the library is that a library, in the way it has existed before the internet is very much limited. Although the library was a powerful tool for democracy, in retrospect, it wasn't really revolutionary.

Limited in time and space, libraries limited human minds. The internet makes all that time and space stuff less relevant. Instant access to exactly what you want through pdfs and online articles, as well as a community of like minded communities who can help you with what to read and how to understand, is something that shouldn't be underestimated.

In short, networked communities sharing knowledge is awesome, and is becoming important for me directly in my studies, as well as for many, many people like me. Unveiling the radical, and very real, potential of this is a project of changing the ways we define reality, and thusly, making Utopia into what is very unreal: present politics and economics.

See you Thesis 10.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dear Friends

Hey, people.

As you may know, me and Kahtia are still trying to hustle up money for our trip. We've now started taking donations.

I'm updating again to clarify a couple of things.

1. We very much dont like doing this. I'm sorry if its annoying, but its the only possible way this is going to happen.

2. We don't really think it's that much to ask. It's only $1 dollar, it doesn't take much of your time, and it makes us happy. Any annoyance or feeling of "this is way too much effort for just these people" is only with you.

3. Too you, it might be just a couple of entitled jerks asking for free stuff online. But in reality, we are two very emotional people who love each other and see no other way.

4. We love each other a lot. I love her a lot. Like, a lot. I really can't put it into words, let alone cope with not being able to see her. We've decided that we're going to get married some day. That's not a small thing to decide before we've even met IRL. I don't think a lot of people understand this.

So, I'm asking, please help. My paypal can be found on this blog.

Donate to her blog 

Buy her book

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thesis 8 of 95: Better Timing

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. All posts in the project can be found here.

In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

Now, I've spent a lot of time speaking of markets, but I want to talk about the workplace, or the place of producing value, a bit more.

Value in society is never strictly material wealth. As Postone says in Time, Labor and Social Domination:
Material wealth does not mediate itself socially; where it is the dominant social form of wealth, it is "evaluated" and distributed by overt social relations— traditional social ties, relations of power, conscious decisions, considerations of needs, and so forth. The dominance of material wealth as the social form of wealth is related to an overtly social mode of mediation.
Now, when Marx speaks of value as the "socially necessary labor time" it takes to create a thing, he is saying exactly this: that the necessity of the hours of labor is social, not strictly material. Socially necessary labour time expresses a "general temporal norm resulting from the action of the producers, to which they must conform" (Postone, 1996). Workers in capitalism have to surrender and conform their productive activity to a certain form of abstract Newtonian time that is specific to capitalism.

In capitalism, man is secondary to time, in particular, abstract time. In all previous forms of society, concrete time, that is, time that is the function of events, such as the natural periodicities that humans experience as well as the doing (tasks, processes) of humans, that is, the time needed to fry a shrimp, or take a piss. Sure, precapitalist societies has different conceptions of an "hour", but in Egypt, for example, that hour was a variable that adapted itself after seasonal changes, and was grounded in the real world. Abstract time, however, is best described by Newton in Principia as "absolute, true and mathematical time [which] flows equably without relation to anything external."

This becomes important in the history of European society as abstract Newtonian time, in the late 14th century, starts to constitute the social reality of the commodity-determined form of social relations. It's not just the fact that this form of measuring time was invariable (China had abstract time and mechanical clocks without it constituting a form of social domination before capitalism) , its that it was incorprated into the social organization of time. It is fairly significant that in the Paris commune, the people were shooting at the clocks, as Walter Benjamin pointed out. People have been subjugated, by historical and social conditions, to the clock, or abstract labor time. Confining human productive activity into people who are regulated in time, required a huge deal of coercion and repression. It is this regime of social dominance through time we think is so natural, the regime of wage slavery.

Now, as long as technology aligns to this form of time organization, and the value creation of socially necessary labor hours, capitalism is fine. With the internet though, time has started acting differently. Human activity his in the process of being liberated from the general social time, in a way that the commodity market could never do.

The commodity market requires a certain form of production, that relies heavily on an inflexible, invariable form of time management. The concrete activities are limited by the abstract laws of temporality. The conversational market of the internet, however, does not rely on this form temporality. I can start a conversation whenever, with whoever, in whatever time-zone they happen to be, provided we both have concrete possibilities such as being awake or being close to a device that has the internet.

I wouldn't say, as the thesis say, that employees ARE speaking in a powerful new way. Rather, the possibility of speaking in a powerful new way is there, but not yet realized. More and more of the work day is spent doing nothing, and since emailing/social networking/other forms of communicating has in a sense liberated people from time and space, the point of being in a place for 8 hours when you could just as easily be in bed sending and responding to emails whenever you have the time instead of just dealing with things when they need to be dealt with. In the new form of communication, there is liberatory potential. But as socially necessary labor hours remain the main form of value, rather than this new form of conversational value that can lead to better and freer ways of living, that potential is trapped in our own, old, value system.

Maybe, to realize these powerful ways of communicating, employees need to seize to be employees, but something else. Independent co-producers that manage their own time, to the extent that it is possible. To do this, they need to transcend the value system of abstract time. Is the conversational market capable of accomplishing this? Not on its own, but it sure is going to be a huge part of it.

See you soon, Thesis 9

Let me know if you did and I can maybe reward you in a way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thesis 7 of 95: Dog could have the value of Dog, or Dog.

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. All posts in the project can be found here.


Allow me to step out of the Human Voice narrative for a second. And just appreciate how cool hyperlinks are.

Back when I had a Myspace and 12 friends I realized I had a blogging function and decided, hey, let me use it for all my weird. I was really weird, and not very funny, but it was a thing that I did. Hyperlinking was a great tool for teen me back then. I used to link to all sorts of weird and stupid stuff.

It was fun, especially since I tried to purposely, rather than get a "haha thats so funny" effect, I tried to induce the WTF effect. I guess it was just another teen trying to be annoying for attention. I carried on some of my weird to twitter, but the hyperlinks wasn't there anymore. Even though, after that, I have probably started more than 10 blogs that I've abandoned, and I never got onto that blogging game again, sadly. Hopefully this will change things.

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

Hyperlinks are ways of making sure that the words you say can have deeper implied meaning (and as we shall see later, Conversational Market value) than it would if it was just a piece of text. Usually, in text, if you want to imply something, you have to make it clear. The word dog, for example, can never mean "dog on a tricycle" written in plain text unless you specify that the dog, is specifically on a tricycle. Now I can just do this:


And by clicking that, it is understood that "dog" in this case means "dog on a tricycle".

Now, hierarchies don't like this thing were words have different meanings. They don't like it when any cog in the machines of society do not function in a way that is easily calculated, predictable and with constant attributes (Homo Ecomonicus anyone?). When the people, things, words, dogs, the word "dogs, cars, markets or thoughts don't work in a predictable way it messes up the hierarchies attempts to make their subjects "legible", in James C. Scotts terms. When things, like words in a publicly accessible blog-post, start acting differently from what the hierarchies that have been formally predetermined in an abstract sense, the hierarchy collapses.

The attempts at making the internet legible and controllable, in general, been a failure. Filesharing is a great  example of this. Que Kevin Carson (and Cory Doctorow, I guess): 
As Cory Doctorow points out, the record companies developed their DRM in the mistaken belief that it only had to be strong enough to deter the average user, and that the small number of geeks capable of cracking it would be economically insignificant. But in fact it takes only one geek to crack the DRM and post an MP3 on a torrent download site, and it becomes freely available to average users. 
Because of the networked, stigmergic character of the internet, the various ways of sharing on the internet subvert the hierarchies that attempt to control them. Information is quickly spread, mirrored and responded to.

Now, this hyperlink bizniz adds another level to this Conversational Market bizniz. There value exchanged is not fixed, and can appear differently after need and want. Unlike  the "commodity", which has a specific, fixed character and can be exchanged for another value of fixed character, "currency", it is harder to control by state and corporate authorities. With this fixed, legible form of human activity, hierarchies have all the power of the world, especially if they control what commodities are made and what currency there is.

If I wrote the word "dog" on a paper, and tried to commodify it for the capitalist market, I could only sell it as "the word dog on a paper", against whatever amount of fixed value tokens (currency) somebody is willing to give for "the word dog on a paper". If I write "dog" here on my blog, though, dog could have the value of, for example, dog, or dog.

It can then be exchanged on the Conversational Market for the attention, appreciation and sharing of others, who are equally able to produce the same values. The flexibility and informality of this value creation and exchange makes it harder for hierarchies to impose themselves upon the exchange and control it.

See you soon, Thesis 8.

Me and my girlfriend are in need of help. We live on opposite ends of planet earth, and would like to meet. If you want to help us out, read this.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Call Up To Those Heroes Who Would Help A Goat Or A Writer In Need

Note: This is a repost from here. Don't be confused when it mentions me in third person.

DISCLAIMER: This is a blog about money. The most common question we get is, why should I care about this? Why should I give money to people I don’t know? Don’t tell me about your so called need, 

I need money too omg yyyyy uuuu ffff

It’s usually not phrased so politely.

And my answer to this is, well, you shouldn’t. If that’s your reaction, then please, turn away now, for you are not our target market, and we don’t need to convince you to care.

But some people are kind and empathetic and they like us and they have a spare $5. We’re talking to them.

To the kind heroes of our hearts: THE GOATS NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE!!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me and @sushi_goat raise the rest of the money we need for our trip to meet.


(If you’re new to this adventure, refer to these links for the full story: A Tale Of Two Goats & a song we wrote)

So, what happened? Well, as many of you know I found a casual job over Christmas and it looked like we were going to be all set for the trip. But then I just didn’t get anywhere near the number of shifts I was hoping for, and we were plunged back into financial uncertainty once again.

So, what are we asking for exactly? Well, if you’re reading my blog you probably know that I self-published a book about six months ago, and we have been selling it to raise trip money. It’s an ebook that costs $6.54 and is available here. It’s funny, clever, and just a little… off-beat. If you haven’t bought it yet, that’s the best way to contribute to our cause, as you are also supporting my art. I get $5 from every sale, and overall we need to raise the funds equivalent to about 150 book sales.

The second way to help is via a paypal donation. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity we have already seen from our kind heroes, but we have more money to raise to meet our target. It isn’t a lot of money that we need – if 150 people donated $5 (or bought books), or 75 people donated $10, or 38 people donated $20, we’d be there. It’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but to us it’s a small fortune. It’s the difference between eating and not eating for about two months. AND once we have it secured, we can stop worrying so much about our finances and get on with sorting out the red tape of the trip: visas, passports, bookings, etc etc.


Consider it a funding drive!

I will be posting as much as I can and trying to offer as many incentives as I can. I can draw pictures, take photos, write and record thank you songs, write you poems, write a romantic sonnet for you to give to your own lover and pretend it’s from you, whatever you want (as long as I can do it without spending money!) Just make sure I know who you are and that you donated! 

If everyone who followed us just on twitter donated $5, we’d have $14,500. We don’t need anywhere near that much, but it puts it into perspective. If you’re reading this blog, consider donating just $1. Sometimes this blog gets hundreds of hits in a day. You do the math. 

IF YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE $1 TO SPARE: We get it, don’t worry. You can still help us by posting the link to the book or to the various blogs explaining the situation. Tell your friends! Tell your enemies (but make sure you’re standing at a safe distance!)

This trip really means the world to us. It’s hard to convey the complex emotions I feel about this situation over the internet, but to imagine how the prospect of failing at raising these funds feels to me, just imagine that your insides are full of needles and broken glass.
The other thing worth mentioning is that this trip is doubling as an opportunity for me to take an extended period of time in which to write my next major piece. So if you enjoy my writing then PLEASE consider donating!!




My twitter

Sushi’s twitter


love love love love love love love love love xxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thesis 6 of 95: Clearing the Human Throat from Abstractions

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. All posts of the project are found here.


The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

Now, in earlier posts, I think I've made this point repeatedly (one might say it IS my point), but this is a way more straight forward way of saying it. I don't think I need to be long-winded here. It might not be as intellectually stimulating, but it's good to get less abstract and more concrete sometimes. What I mean with the "Conversational Markets" are exactly this: a new form of value exchange not possible in the era of mass media.

Let me take some time and define all the interpretations of the Cluetrain terms I've used thus far:

Markets/Conversation: Exchange of value between humans (on a societal level, not individually).
Conversational Markets: A value exchange between humans that is emerging out of the capitalist market. Values are exchanged on the Internet and the possibilities it has given us. 
The Human Voice: The specific "structured structure" of a market. The exchange of value between humans has a "felt exchange of humanity" to it, it "sounds human". People exchanging the value  that the "Human Voice"-structure recognizes as legitimate means those people recognize each-other as humans. 

The Internet is a big part of this. Though the old is not ancient yet, and we still have to deal with the real political, social and economic problems of it, but that's not a reason to ignore the new. The Internet is destroying the media and communication monopolies necessary for the old market of capitalism, and is giving the ordinary people, of almost any economic class, access to exchange in a new market, of "conversation". 

Media, arts, journalism and debate is now in the reach of most people, through the various new possibilities of the Internet. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's barely even decent, but it's a thing. Realizing it's thing-ness means taking responsibility and control over it. As of now, I'm not sure this new exchange of value is really ready to go face-to-face with the old, but I'm hoping it will at least do some serious damage.

See you soon, thesis 7. 


Thesis 5 of 95: Hear the Human

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto 
Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness that exists also for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well; language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men. The German Ideology - Marx, Karl

To say that we "recognize each other as such this voice" is to say that we recognize each-other from the legitimized and internalized form of value exchange between humans, The Conversation. Those who can enter into this Conversation can be legitimized as humans through it. 

Depending on the form of the Conversation, some people are excluded, and included in this voice. Not everyone can participate, and not everyone can make the Human Voice. For example, in capitalism, those who are physically or socially unable to conform to the value system of socially necessary labor hours get dehumanized and deprived from speaking in public (in the educational, economic, religious, social, political institutions), they are seen as parasites to get rid of or weak people to take care of.

Language, or practical consciousness, can be seen as the Human Voice as such, and the "intercourse with other men" is the Conversation. The particular form of "intercourse with other men" is historically and socially constituted. 

The Human Voice of Capitalism, however is not static and unchangeable, even though its "open, natural, uncontrived" character leads us to perceive it in this way. There is, as, Bourdieu (1977) puts it, a "struggle for the power to impose the legitimate mode of thought and expression", or the legitimate form of the Conversation, and the "sound of the Human Voice". This is due to its characteristic as an antagonistic class society. There are people don't feel like that "language exists" for them and wants to change it. 

The Conversational Market is changing the way people recognize each-other as human beings. "Making the Human Voice" of this market is giving us an opportunity to start recognizing each other more and better. We just have to be aware that we are making it. 

See you soon, Thesis 6. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thesis 4 of 95: It talks like an angel, but I got wise

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto 

In the last post, I defined the "Human Voice" as "the felt exchange of humanity in an exchange of value between humans." This felt exchange of something that is "us", when we exchange things which are not "us" as such, but products of ourselves that have been frozen in time as a "thing of value" which can now be exchanged for another "thing of value", created by somebody else.

That the Human Voice exists, that its part of a Conversation  a Market, or a Conversational Market is no way necessitating it as virtuous. It can sometimes be destructive. 

Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived. 

Now, this is a good thing, right? The Human Voice being "open, natural, uncontrived", aren't those all words which sound good? The problem, I think, isn't how the voice is saying it, it is what is said. When we face these "structured structures that are pre-disposed to structure structures", what Bourdieu calls "The Habitus", we learn to "refuse what is anyway refused and to love the inevitable". 

An thus, the Human Voice might tell us to work until our bodies are useless, to buy until our pockets are empty, to dull ourselves down until we don't feel much of anything, and that the Human Voice is all there is, and we will accept our faith as if it was an independent choice we made.

The Human Voice in Capitalism feels open, natural and uncontrived. It's specific categories and constructs that limit human freedom and happiness are posed as Things as They Are, Were, and Will Be. It makes you feel as if its "open", "uncontrived" in that it talks as if it were the champion of free choice. The thought of something else - a new way of making the world, the Human Voice, is shunned because Listen To The Sound Of The Voice We Made Last Time Isn't It Great I Totally Want To Do That Again! When you actually listen to the words, rather than the sound, though, they make less sense. You have to inquire if you want to understand.

I've been running with this idea of a Conversational Market, appearing as a change in the Human Voice. A market were the values are exchanged in the way Mauss described, not in the commodity form, but in the form of social interaction which groups and individuals engage in. The creation of the Human Voice in this market is the creation of structured structures (filesharing websites, social media websites, new technologies, new personalities, new politics and positions of power) which are structuring structures (filesharers, tweeters, smartphones, @dril, Occupiers and Mark Zuckerberg). 

Have we created this new Human Voice well? Well, we may have made some mistakes, but the more we are aware that we are making Human Voice, the more power we have to experiment with it.

Thesis 3 of 95: Make the World

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto 
To change the world, one has to change the ways of making the world, that is, the vision of the world and the practical operations by which groups are produced and reproduced.- In Other Words - Bourdieu, Pierre
To produce and to reproduce.

Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

Earlier, I have both said that markets are conversations, and that conversations are becoming markets. Weird, huh? Now, I want to get all up in this Human Voice business. Conversations among humans, in whatever form, are the product of humans, and (as Mauss will tell you), humans tend to perceive products they made as a part of themselves, of their "humanity", if you will*. In this sense I understand the "human voice", the thing in the conversations (or markets) which "sounds human", as the felt exchange of humanity in an exchange of value between humans.

The human voice is produced, and is reproduced. It is a structured structure predisposed to function as a structuring structure, (that's right I'm getting my Bourdieu game on). Now, the conversations which create "The Human Voice" is nothing but a way of making the world. If Bourdieu is right, then we can change that way of making the world, or the human voice. Whichever thing suits you the best.

Let me explain what is meant by a "structured structure predisposed to function as a structuring structure". For this, I will borrowsteal Glen Whelan's example about the individual driver and the side of the road they're driving on. An example of a "structured structure" is road signs, traffic lights and the general flow of traffic. This "structured structure" predisposes the individual driver to (usually) drive on one side of the road (in Sweden its the right), because else they don't get any information, and risk crashing head-on into other drivers, and so  the (unthinking) individual becomes a "structuring structure". The structuring structures tend to reproduce the structured structures they derive from.

The Human Voice is structuring the Humans which are structuring the Human Voice. In the market of capitalism, the structured structure that is the Human Voice is first and foremost labor, or "socially necessary labor hours" (a point which I will most likely elaborate in the future), commodities, government, capital and the usual suspects. The structure structures us to act and make choices that tend to structure it, that is, we are products of it, we produce it and it reproduces us, to reproduce it again.

The market of conversation is emerging in this context. We are meant to speak in this Tone ( here comes the "conducted in a human voice" part). Although the market of conversation, as opposed to commodities, is in the process of changing this Tone, the Conversational market is maybe only a slight change of accent thus far. Maybe the consonants are starting to sound softer, maybe the vowels are dragging on a bit longer. The structured structure that I call Conversational Markets that is starting to emerge, is being structured by agents who have been structured by the capitalist structure (woah, did u get that?).

That is, the new way of exchanging value still largely appears as secondary and dependent no the value exchange of capitalism, and emerges out if it. It seems, though, to be quickly structuring us into being new forms of embodied structure makers, which are increasingly less fit to reproduce the old structure of capitalism.

It's getting a bit late for me to talk of these new Structures that are weakening the old, but I'm fairly sure you can imagine this for yourself..

Pheeeew. So what do we have here? What does it all lead up to? Well. I'd like to restate the quote in the beginning in terms we've been using on this journey thus far:

To change the Human Voice, one has to change the ways of making the Human Voice that is, the Sound of the Human Voice and the practical operations by which Conversations/Markets are produced and reproduced.
Got it? I hope so.

See you soon, thesis 4.
You can find the rest of the posts in this project over here.
*One of the most interesting instances of this is found in Anna Megis essay "Food as a cultural construction" about the Hua people, found in Food and Culture: A Reader.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thesis 2 of 95: Talk To Me

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto

(first post)

"You've been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life."

Sometimes, I feel like this line from this Pavement song called "Shady Lane". Like the representation of "me" in the public eye is not "me", and whatever it is that seems to have replaced the real "me" in the public eye has more power to define me then I have on my own.

And I'm sure, what with all the privileges society has granted me, that some have it way worse.

It's easy, and frankly a bit boring to speak of how you "only see people as individuals". Besides, seeing everyone as "individuals" is usually the act of removing your prejudices from groups of people to all of mankind, asserting things about their "nature" which are just as destructive as asserting the same things about groups.

Removing prejudices against groups from your system of thinking is a process of talking and interacting with those people in a way that lets them show their true self, not simply dismissing any thoughts of groups existing on the basis of an idea about what the essence of every individual is.

That is, if the representation of "me" in the public eye is not the real me, you can correctly assume that it has to do with what group of people I belong to, but if you turn your view of me into a destructive universal view of "human nature", and avoid finding out how I really am, you've misrepresented me again, and you haven't understood me.

You have to inquire if you want to understand.

This is why seeing conversations as markets, a new form of value exchange in the era of the internet, is interesting. As I argued in the first post, markets should not be thought of the act of swapping material wealth, but any of form of significant exchange of values between human beings. Conversations, I argued, thanks to the internet, is emerging as a significant new form of value-exchange between people.

I would like to clarify why, if anybody is confused. Conversations haven't been markets now for a while. Commodity exchange and abstract human labor has. Sure, people might have individually had conversations were there has been a sense of value-exchange, but it cannot have been said to be a "market", since it didn't occur on a large scale as an important form of social activity. With the Internet, that has changed. Conversation and sharing of opinions is beginning to become a significant part of the common persons life, in a way that it can't be said to have been before. Anyway.

Lets introduce the thesis this post is about: "Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors". If conversation is a new market, a form of social exchange which is emerging out of technological developments, what might be the "marketing" of this particular "market"?

Marketing, in the world of capitalism, is built on assumptions. Assumptions about groups, and about people in general. Marketing in capitalism is forced to make assumptions to succeed. It is not efficient to know exactly what everyone wants individually, so it prefers to keep things general. Those people seem to want this. These people seem to want that. It's simple,easy and for the purposes of capitalism, it works great. The purposes of capitalism, however, might not be the purposes of creating a better world.

The marketing of conversation, on the other hand, is built on something different. Talking to each-other as a form of value exchange requires some will to understand. Unless there is a will to understand by both parts or parties of the exchange, nobody is going to return to the conversation. That is, if I enter I attempt to start a conversation, and I talk to the person as if I'm talking to "an extra in the movie adaptation of the sequel to their life", I am not going to get a good response. Probably, what is going to happen is that they will stop talking to me after a while, and I can't exchange values with that person any longer.

There is, of course, nothing that says that this new market is, or will be, magical and perfect. Sometimes, I bet, it will even suck, bad. But it does present us with a radically new way of "marketing", one that needs to take actual human beings, not demographics, into account.

See you soon, thesis 3.

All posts that are or will be part of this project can be found here.

Thesis 1 of 95: Are conversations markets?

Part of the blogging project about the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto

Markets are not about selling or buying. Markets aren't about commodities. They aren't about investing in finance, money, not about the right to own property, and not a scheme to either liberate or enslave mankind, either.

Because we hear so much about markets, in their present form, about whether they're free or not, or whether they should be, what they should do, how it should be regulated or deregulated, if it turns us to economizing rational actors or irrational consumerists, etc. etc. we tend to assume that what we today call The Market (as if it was a singular thing) is The Market that would have happened 400 B.C, or in the Mesolithic period, or in the middle ages, or in the future, say some 500 years from now.

This is obviously false. The Market of Late Capitalism is different from markets as such. Let me quote some Marcel Mauss, from his analysis of gift-giving in archaic societies at you:

It has been suggested that these [archaic] societies lack the economic market, but this is not true; for the market is a human phenomenon which we believe to be familiar to every known society. Markets are found before the development of merchants, and before their most important innovation, currency as we know it. They functioned before they took the modern forms (Semitic, Hellenic, Hellenistic, and Roman) of contract and sale and capital. We shall take note of the moral and economic features of these institutions. The Gift: Form and Reason of Exchange in Archaic Societies - Mauss, Marcel 

Now, at first, this quote sort of annoyed me. Being the commie-pinko that I am, saying that markets is a "human phenomenon... familiar to every known society", especially in a book that was recommended to me as an example of how societies without markets can be sustainable, seemed to me as just a restatement of bourgeois ahistorical claims about how capitalism is "human nature". However, I quickly sobered up to what Mauss was actually saying. Of course, as I was well aware, Markets are Not Capitalism, and what markets Mauss were talking about seemed fundamentally different then what capitalist markets were about. Let's quote some more:

In the systems of the past we do not find simple exchange of goods, wealth and produce through markets established among individuals. For it is groups, and not individuals, which carry on exchange, make contracts, and are bound by obligations; the persons represented in the contracts are moral persons—clans, tribes, and families; the groups, or the chiefs as intermediaries for the groups, confront and oppose each other. Further, what they exchange is not exclusively goods and wealth, real and personal property, and things of economic value. They exchange rather courtesies, entertainments, ritual, military assistance, women, children, dances, and feasts; and fairs in which the market is but one element and the circulation of wealth but one part of a wide and enduring contract. The Gift: Form and Reason of Exchange in Archaic Societies - Mauss, Marcel 
So, what Mauss is saying here is basically: markets are markets, regardless of what they exchange, and who is exchanging in it. The point here is not to romanticize these archaic markets, their hierarchy, patriarchy and spirituality, but rather to bring home the point: people exchange things. They all do. They don't have to appear in the form of the of the commodity, exchanged for money, nor do they even have to have anything to do with material wealth as such.

So, you may be asking now: cool, but what has this to do with the thesis?

Markets are conversations. It doesn't take much thought to understand the concept. But are conversations also markets? In the internet age, where conversation has entered a new paradigm, where media and commentary are in the process of being liberated from the high-overhead market that dominated, excluded and disengaged people just some decades ago from making their thoughts public, I'd say the conversation is emerging as a new form of market, where new values are exchanged. Of course, conversations have been had since time immemorial, but the act of communicating publicly is emerging as a new form of value-exchange.

Conversations, by the common man, used to be held in private, as a secondary, but still necessary act to the primary acts of making, buying, selling, and consuming commodities. Far away was the thought of the agora of Ancient Greece, where conversation-making and opinion-stating was the highest form of social activity. The philosophical, spiritual, scientific and political argumentation at the agora, which was also the commodity market of the Greek cities, fits neatly into the Maussian concept of a market being something else than just M-C-M^ exchanges.

Now, it is not my intention to praise the slave-owning and patriarchal Greeks, but I can't help but make the connection. A modern agora is reemerging, where I can have this opinion, you can read it, critique it, praise it,  respond to it, and share it. Understanding this as a market is understanding it has a new form of value exchange, just like the value exchanges in those old societies often labeled "communistic" were also markets. It is separate from capitalist markets in that it doesn't turn the basic necessities of existence into exchangeable goods and commodities.

Call it a market where losing out isn't that much of a threat to your basic rights.

See you soon, thesis 2.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Joining in on the Cluetrain Manifesto blogathon

Read about it here. Expect posts soon. :)

Note on Social Weakness and Strenght #1

Social "weakness" and "strength" are always relational to the burden society has been historically and socially determined to bear. A persons social weakness/strength depends on that persons ability to preform the tasks  the dominant ideology (consciously and unconsciously determined by the dominant class) considers socially necessary. Images and ideas about strength and weakness appear as quasi-objective measures of something essential to every human society, veiling the socially constructed and historically determined reality of it.

To see how strength/weakness is relational to the tasks that happen to be at hand, one need only look at the world of sports. When commentators and experts speak of the "strengths" and "weaknesses" of the players in a soccer game, they are speaking purely about their ability to play soccer. If a commentator were to say, that among soccer player X's strengths is that he knows a lot about marine biology, that would appear as an absurdity. It's very obvious why that is the case, since player X's knowledge in the field of marine biology is largely irrelevant to his ability to act as a team player in the game of soccer.

This example only goes so far in describing social weakness and strength in society at large, though. In professional soccer games, it is necessary for all the players to have conscious knowledge of the rules and objectives of the game. Here, we are talking about a form of strength/weakness which is, while being an example of the categories of weakness/strength being relational, not descriptive of the form of social weakness/strength I am discussing here. A soccer game is very much a consciously controlled and regulated game. Rules are written down, positions are given to players, judges attempt to enforce the rules and positions, and players attempt to perform the objectives of the game in a way in which all the players, judges, trainers etc. have close to exact knowledge of. The weaknesses and strengths of the game of soccer is constructed consciously, while the weaknesses and strengths of everyday society is constructed at a deeper, subconscious level.

The sociologist Bourdieu famously said the “most successful ideological effects are those which have no need for words, and ask no more than complicitous silence”, and this is true for the ideological effects of social weakness and strength too. What is considered to be "strong" and "weak" appears objective, and we understand it without question. In other words, the relational, socially and historically constructed form of strength and weakness which is ideologically imposed upon the population by the dominant class appear as if it is a essential, trans-historical, and trans-societal measure of social ability. Unveiling the true nature behind what appears to be an objective measure of social ability, value and worth means creating an opportunity to transcend the limitations it imposes upon us, and to realize the social worth of all.

To be continued.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Place, New Resolutions

This post is going to maybe bore some of you but there is very important info at the end so use what energy you might have left in your scroll  finger and scroll down to the bottom of the post

This blog has been dead for a long while.

But I haven't. I've been very much alive (most of the time). I've been doing a lot of stuff. And things. And the like. I've made a ton of new friends, I've studied hard, I've thought long and hard about the social meaning of time, labor and contribution, I've changed a lot of my views, and I've been sort of a shithead a lot of the time.

Most importantly, I've gotten my own place. I've been living with the parents for all my life, but a whole lot of things have created a need for me to get my own Domus (Latin for "home", yeah I know how to google translations for words Latin). I must say that its a nice place. Small and sort of far away from the city, but very good for a first place.

I used to live in Strängnäs, the small town built for old rich Stockholm retirees I spent all my teenage years in. I could probably arrange tours through this place to show people where all my life's most terrible events have occurred. I could also probably point people to where I played my first rock show at 12, or the rehearsing space where we all left hating each other and ourselves every Friday after school at age 15, or, maybe that was just me. I could show you the big church where I should've played a lackey to the Swedish king Gustav Vasa in a play, but threw up in an IKEA the day of the premiere and had to stay at home.*

I'm now in Hölö, which is in the municipality of Södertälje. Its really nice! There is a pizzeria here and a place to buy food. The only thing I really don't like is the commuting. The day before yesterday I attempted to get home after picking up laundry at my parents house, the trip was 2 hours prolonged and I lost my laundry bag on a train, admittedly due to some mistakes on my part, but I can't say I enjoy how the whole thing was being treated. I came home feeling like a piece of shit. Oh well. This is something I'll have to get used too. 

I was at an interesting New Years dinner yesterday. Besides attempting to ground coffee beans with hammers, and wrestling an old Christmas tree under the pretext of it being too god-fucking damned bourgeois, the people, mostly people I've never met before, were very nice and intelligent. We discussed the nothingness of Death, and the culture of violence and victim blaming and various things that are hard to phrase after half a bottle of cheap, way too sweet sparkling wine and a few too many IPA's. I almost lost my shoe.

This is, of course, a time of reflection and restarting, and regardless of how silly the idea of the New Years Resolution has become, I've made a few resolutions (one of which involves you, readers). Here they are, starting with the most cliche of them all:

  1. Take care of myself. I'm forced to control my own diet now, and I want to make better food choices. I'm also gonna start working out.
  2. Stop bringing myself down. I was practically born with low self-esteem, and I always thought that it was what is expected from me. I've come to realize that, first of, low-self esteem is not a good thing (duh), and secondly, I don't have any real reason to hate myself in the ways that I have these past years. I'm not doing any of that positive thinking liberal bullshit, but I'm not going to hate myself irrationally either.
  3. Up my grades. I'm not doing the worst, but I can do way better.
  4. Write more political stuff. Read more political stuff. Do more political stuff.
  5. Learn to explain things better. Like, talking and typing and saying the thing.
  6. Hi. This is where you come into the picture. This New Years resolution is not new. I've had this resolution since about March last year. I'm going to arrange for my lovely girlfriend from Australia to come over here to Europe, first for a month-long trip through the EU by train, and after that she'll stay with me until December. You guys already know about this if you've been reading my blog/tweets/tumblrs before, but we are in need of funding external to our own incomes. We were selling her debut novella, The Letter, to make stuff go around. We stopped promoting it for a while, but now we need to start back up again. We want to sell at least 100 copies before the trip in July. For this to work, we need you guys to help us like you helped us last time, and maybe even more. If you haven't bought the book, buy it. If you have friends you think would like it, tell them. Tell your twitter, your facebook and your blog, too. You get to read and share a great novel, plus help two lovers meet. Here is the link: Please help us out. 
*Swedes are not at IKEA all the time I just happened to be at an IKEA that day gosh dangit