I’ve made a number of assertions over quite a long time. One of them has been about “digital serfdom.” I’ve not studied the term closely nor explained the concept fully from my perspective, nor done any wider research on it. It just seemed obvious for a capitalist perspective. I look at the walls of digital silos and how most are crafted to maintain data and activity within. I call these digital plantations. When a new plantation grows to a significant size, it gets bought up by bigger players, so what happens is an aggregation into a “mass.” This mass (of people) is not controlling the direction of the whole, nor has input into how the larger platform works.
Today, though I was at a “digital event” and one of the speakers, a silicon valley futurist type, laid out the same ideas as I had in a very matter of fact manner to a room full of people who appeared a bit bemused by the concept, even slightly taken aback.
He even drew diagrams to further explain the idea. He built a pyramid with VCs (capitalists) at the top, entrepreneurs (platform owners) middle and users (serfs) at the bottom.
He asked a followup question; how many people think automation will take jobs in the future? 75% hands raised. How many people think automation will take “your ” job in the future? 10-15% hands raised. I thought of my Bedouin sheep analogy (explained below). Even at cursory level of investigation that shows the level of delusion people have (or want to have). Fredrick Douglas once said the level of injustice people will get is the same level as they will put up with (think of it like “nature abhors a vacuum”) and power never “grants” autonomy, it retains by force and only submits to a force (not necessarily the same force). But back to my silicon valley speaker…
He explained digital serfdom as those who “don’t own the proceeds.” I’ve explained the notion in similar terms. The only issue is that the digital serf gives up his or her mind as well as body in a weirdly Faustian bargain. I’m not trying to pretend I’m some sort of savant, the opposite in fact, this guy was paid to talk, I’m only doing some simple maths and came up with exactly the same conclusions, no gee whiz at all, just 1+1 =2.
The second element seems the most unpalatable to the “Kumbaya crowd.” The optimistic lullaby you’re sold as a consumer, to keep you somnolent seems to be the only train running in their one track minds.
I don’t want to pick on the “everyday is awesum” peeps, but I’d heartily suggest the they are the very same people who get whittled out each time some warlord builds a head of steam. It must be hard to keep singing a Capella when you’re getting waterboarded by a neanderthal spook, or maybe singing is what you do in those situations, giving up every brown person in sight whilst saving your own skin. It reminds me somehow of the sheep that the Bedouin herd through the desert, eating them as they go as a kind of living happy meal.
One important element of the event speaker’s pyramid was that it’s not a pyramid. There are much fewer at the top than at the bottom. It resembled more a spilled ice cream cone held by a string.
The control of the many by a few is a globalist credo. Digital plotfarms are giving this idea a good airing without much debate over it. The only necessary ingredients are people too stupid to understand the meaning or unwilling to face the reality of it (same thing).
Attention, data and time neatly fits a rough definition of work. If a digital platform sells that to willing buyers and you don’t get a cut, what does that make you?
“Today, the labor is largely data, and the properties are digital.”
Maybe you should look at the term “angel investor” too. The only way the very few can control the many is by cheating, deception and manipulation. That doesn’t sound so angelic when you think about it.
You might study the term “corporation” too while you’re at it and the function of global corporations. Quick hint; it’s not helping “the many”to the labor of the few.