Last blog post
Benkler & Howard
I realized after uploading my final paper that I missed the last blog assignment from 4/30/07- so here it is to make up for my oversight.
After completing Yochai Benkler’s impressively titled work, “The wealth of Networks: how Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom” I felt that his incredibly optimistic take on the decentralization of knowledge and labor because of new communication technology was out of touch with the social realities that this decentralization causes. Certainly there is new wealth being created out of the ability to transit and broadcast information and capital instantly to anywhere in the world to a well educated, and trained workforce. While corporations greatly benefit from this flow of information, those who lose their jobs don’t see this development as such a great example of progress. I am sure that this anxiety that is felt with the continued exportation of manufacturing jobs overseas was similar to the social upheaval of labor during the industrial revolution, but at least during that time corporations viewed their workers as assets, not as liabilities. Company town’s were established in close proximity to the factories to aid in productivity. Health care, dentists, teachers and schools were all provided by the companies such as the Lever Brothers, Cadbury or Pullman to make sure that their workers were well cared for and looked after. Today, the pressure is coming from industry for the government to provide universal heath care not out of concern for the workers, but corporations heath care as an unfair competitive edge that foreign governments supply their competition.
Philip Howard’s examination on how the new hypermedia campaign occurs is a further example of the “thinning” of citizenship and privatization of the political process. In it he remarks on the same new technologies that Benkler seems to admire, but provides us with a stark warning on how little political power we actually posses.