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archives begin in 1996

  

The Critique of Digital Capitalism

story © Michael Betancourt | published January 11, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

My book is now out from Punctum Books, and available on amazon.com. Running 265 pages, this volume collects and expands my critical theory essays pubished over the past decade:

Introduction
​1​ The Ideology of Automation
​2 ​The Emergence of Immaterial Physicality
​3​ The Aura of the Digital
​4​ The Immaterial Commodity
​5​ The Valorization of the Author
​6​ The Black Box of Past Experience
​7​ The State of Information
​8​ The Demands of Agnotology::Surveillance
​9 ​The Scarcity of Capital
​10​ On Immaterialism

The critique introduced in this book develops from basic questions about how digital technologies directly change the structure of society: why is Digital Rights Management not only the dominant solution for distributing digital information, but also the only option being considered? During the burst of the Housing Bubble burst 2009, why were the immaterial commodities being traded of primary concern, but the actual physical assets and the impacts on the people living in them generally ignored? How do surveillance (pervasive monitoring) and agnotology (culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data) coincide as mutually reinforcing technologies of control and restraint? If technology makes the assumptions of its society manifest as instrumentality then what ideology is being realized in the form of the digital computer? This final question animates the critical framework this analysis proposes.




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Rationalized Production

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 7, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The rationalization of industrial processes known as Taylorism, appears as the fragmentation of production on the assembly line. This theory initially functions to enable mass production, but finds continued application in the algorythmic translation of agency into digital automation. This approach to how factories organized their processes, codified by engineer and theorist Frederick W. Taylor as scientific management, enables the particular type of mass production that defined American industry in the first half of the twentieth century. Links between Modernist art theory and industrial protocols inform the development of the digital. The transformation of machine labor from an extension of human actionas the mechanical amplification of human laborinto the digital, where the machine does not augment but supplant.




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The Limits of Utility

story © Michael Betancourt | published November 7, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

CTheory just published my new theory article on automation and the structural attempts of digital capitalism to keep the rate of profit from dropping. The Limits of Utiity develops a critical framework for the importance of utility in the production of value.






 
Use, Value and ROI

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 20, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

The problematics of value implicit in the productive shift from physical manufacture to the immaterial semiosis characteristic of digital production emerges from the historical expression of value as a storing of human labor in the tangible form of commodities. Any discussion of profit (surplus value) depends on this pair of integral conceptslabor and useboth of which rarely figure in discussions of digital technology and automation except in absentia: the immaterial production characteristic of High Frequency Trading software, digital automation linked to pervasive monitoring (characterizing the value of social networks generally), and the general complex of relationships between production, facture and labor in digital capitalism propose a production of values without the need for human involvement (either via labor or through use) as a solution to the falling rate of profit: the trajectory of automation offers the reduction-elimination of the variable costs presented by wages.




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The "Cat Organ," Sampling, and the Digital

story © Michael Betancourt | published April 12, 2015 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM

This article is a revision of my article from Vague Terrain published several years ago.

The technical capabilities of computer technology obscure the nexus of capital, human agency, social reproduction, and physical production; thus, the denial of physicality that is specific to the aura of the digital, and apparent in the evolution from hand-labor to the automation characteristic of digital capitalism, is inherent in how this technology has been deployed. The nineteenth century protestant work ethic is the conceptual starting point for this development, merging the ideology of autonomous achievement with digital technology to create a new ideology of automation.




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