We have been dealing with cultural totalities—a single FSEs here and its single OPs there. Perhaps at an earlier point such holism and universalism was plausible. Closer examinations of each entity under the same banner provides evidence that each FSE and OP is likely an accumulation of numerous micro-communities. If we are going to explore the cultural diversity in the FSE-OP dyad we might want to think of each localized entity as a polymorphous system.
For example, as I explore more fully in a different blog, Google Inc. is doing two things that may give us reason to look more closely at the diversification, internal to their forms, of FSEs and OPs: 1) In-house, Google, Inc. encourages its employees to develop ERGs or firm-based affinity moieties; 2) the new social media platform Google+ gives users options for how to categorize their “friends” into select Circles. These two observations have implications for the relationship between Google’s FSE and its OP and more generally the internal integrity of analytical categories such as FSEs and OPs. The internal mechanism for FSE and OP development are subject to the hording and cliquey practices the workers and social media users.
A Washington Post article today by Greg Ferenstein, “In a Cutthroat World, Some Web Giants Thrive by Collaborating,” is a light survey of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple and their internal and external policies of sharing from APIs to intrafirm competition/collaboration. Pretty puffy piece but some nicely observed data. Includes a nice analysis of Google’s risks and pleasures of their open Chrome browser. I’ve met Ferenstein and yes he has drank the zealous punch of lateral organizations inside media firms. But I guess you would have to in order to talk to Twitter and Facebook employees.
TechCrunch post about the end of internet history, basically arguing that Wikileaks is like the wall coming down (direct comparison to Francis Fukuyama’s book). Wikileaks is in fact interesting in what it means for the state of transparency and the attempt to control information by governments, but it’s not the end of history…
Interesting for us why? Because “leaking” is not “participation”– or is it?
I’m reading Roberto Abadie’s book on the class of people known as professional guinea pigs: people who are paid to participate in clinical trials and who make a living (or what passes for one) doing trial after trial. The idea of this as a form of work (or labor, or job) bears some nice resemblances to the other cases we are considering, such as participation in Amazon Mechanical Turk or the life of the free lance journalist. The book starts with the claim that many of these guinea pigs recognize their participation as a kind of labor, and a form of labor that consists in suffering for money and a kind of work that doesn’t produce anything. It would be interesting to apply our framework here: what is the resource exactly?
Compared to other forms of participation in science, where the inclusion or engagement of people is presumed to be positive, democratizing, etc. this is a clear case where participation is, if not coerced by social circumstances (poverty, joblessness, lack of skills, ease of access to money etc) then at least a morally suspect version of participation. In terms of our analysis, there is obviously no participation at the level of goal setting or at the level of task design (i.e. clinical trial design)–only participation in the execution of the task. What’s interesting here though is the creation of an OP by an FSE (pharma companies, who do a ton of work to locate and enroll trial participants) which includes a sub-OP of “professional guinea pigs”–people who come back over and over, communicate with each other, organize and resist.