Workers and Wordsmiths

What is the game? And when we ask for a change to it, what does that mean? What is social change? What is the meaning of social? What is the meaning of change?

you’re talking past each other here -focusing either on the level of discourse (how is the term ‘crowdsourcing’ mobilized as part of a broader ideology that co-opts ideals of collaboration for capitalist ends?) or on the level of practice (how are certain manifestations of crowdsourcing a new way of subverting capitalist practices?). you’re both right, and both making excellent points.

for me, this just raises a couple of important questions. when do we try to expose manipulations at the level of discourse, or when do we simply insist on retaining the use of the word to denote the more subversive version of the concept? or: how can we embody a positive vision of what social change can look like without losing our ability to critique?

The above quote from a dialogue around crowdsourcing is as good a place to start the discussion of meaning in talk of social change.

If you read the dialogue, we are talking past each other. I recognized this pattern. This pattern in dialogue is important for an understanding of the possibility of social change and it is complex. This pattern is wrapped up in the social, making dialogue and conspiracy for social change impossible. That the social needs to change as a precondition for social change means that social change is impossible.

That we are both right is irrelevant. Especially considering the simplification of each communication. I wasn’t focusing on the level of discourse and my conversant wasn’t solely focused on the level of practice. Knowing my conversant more widely that this short conversation suggest there are many levels of undisclosed theoretical foundations driving the differences. You can read an unwillingness to consider the others critique. The conversation doesn’t go in that direction where the ideas presented in the critique are explored. There is a short curcuit.

Also, the intention of my initial remarks was to draw two others into the conversation. Those others never arrived.

when do we try to expose manipulations at the level of discourse, or when do we simply insist on retaining the use of the word to denote the more subversive version of the concept?

In these questions the concept I was trying to draw into the sphere of discourse is absent.

I think my initial remarks were clear to the point of a conceptual clubbing.

Crowdsourcing is not a democratic practice. It is a corporate practice. The crowd is used as cheap labour.

Our greatest problems are hunger and homelessness, and these problems are maintained by a capitalist logic, capitalist policy, capitalist decisions, and capitalist practices.

Do we really need to bring on the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few?

I was clearly focusing on the practice of crowdsourcing, and yet, in the third party wrap-up my focus is relegated to discourse. My critique is blunt and clear. “Crowdsourcing is not a democratic practice.”

What follows this blunt critique is its immediate dismissal without consideration by the conversant. This is conventional.

So the third party questions miss the essence of the critique. The question is: Is our practice democratic?

The third party’s final question which is an “or” as in a rephrasing of the two preceding questions, is not at all a simple rephrasing.

how can we embody a positive vision of what social change can look like without losing our ability to critique?

This is an excellent question. It is direct, in the sense that it is not a diversion, but it says nothing. It is a pure question, ok, it does fluff a little, but with a few tweaks this can be a sharp question.

How can we embody our vision of social change?

There’s the question. Why embody what it can look like? Why not just embody the change? And why would embodying the change affect our critical ability? Isn’t change, conscious change, the product of our critical faculty?

My guess is that embodiment is understood in this question as a fixed result of a critical process. Can we understand the critical process as ongoing? Can we understand embody as practice? With these understandings the body is in constant negotiation with its critical faculties.

What is now necessary for the communication of the body?



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