January 01, 2011

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Finding the one A month or so ago I posted excerpts from a paper I gave in London. The excerpts highlighted a particular aspect of expropriation and exploitation of the common in communicative capitalism, what I referred to as the expropriation and exploitation of the network. The argument focuses on the winner-take-all or winner-take-most characteristic of some forms of contemporary production. What I didn't know about at the time was the "America Competes Act:" The law—its cringeworthy official name is the America Creating Opportunities To Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act—overhauls the way the federal government supports private-sector R & D, and one of the main ways the government hopes to support R & D is with prizes. Lots of prizes. In the rest of this post, I repost a couple of paragraphs from my discussion of prizes, the one, and network exploitation, connecting them with the Obama administration's focus on prizes. 1. Network exploitation. In settings characterized by powerlaws, much is created, but only one or two creations end up known and/or profitable. Thousands of novels or written, only a few are published, fewer still are best sellers. The same holds for movies, blogs, art. As expressed in the paper: In these examples, the common might designate the general field out of which the one emerges. Exploitation consists in efforts to stimulate the creative production of the field in the interest of finding, and then monetizing, the one. Expanding the field produces the one (or, hubs are an immanent...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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