ow_draft--1

ow_draft--1 is an entry point and a first attempt to visualise the research about labour and the internet that I’m doing.

It is a text part manifesto and part self-help tips, which gives an overview both of a specific tool that helps developers to keep track of their code-based work (namely git), but also to illustrate and connect together several themes I found important while reading different materials on the topics.

I’m starting to prefer the word work instead of labour, since it doesn’t just refer to a physical act but in general to any kind of activity (both physical and or mental) that has been accomplished for some reason. I’m aware of the label immaterial labour, emotional labour, affective labour, intellectual labour, and so forth, but I still prefer the vagueness of the word work because it can easily keeps under its umbrella a multiplicity of actions. For example, it doesn’t exclude the domain of play and game from its territories.

Hence the name ow, on work.

From the introduction of the readme.md file:

This readme.md file wants to delineate not how to outline a readme.md file—that changes on a basis per basis project—, but rather what does such file represent. It is, in fact, your way to interact with other people on a platform like github.com. It is, in fact, a way to establish your identity as a worker, amongst other workers.

Such artefact connects you with a larger network of people, machines, and materials. Therefore, it might be useful to reposition the readme.md file into a broader context of relations (with your peers, the server and yourself), instead of just conceive it as a mere informational working document.

Throughout the text I touch topics such as ethics, participation, peer production, transparency and maintenance work. In each sections I move between giving real-world example of how to use a service like github.com and projecting possible implications on what that does imply on yourself and the way you work, if you make use of such tools.

As an experiment and an interest in the role of voice within the internet space, I converted the whole text into six audio tracks, using the text-to-speech command within Mac OS X.

Some parts have been polished (adding more silence, etc.) and some words have been slightly changed (e.g. git→ghit) to make them pronounce right. The output is maybe stronger, on an sensorial level, than the text might have been (making a synthetic voice reads instructions and thoughts about how to use a computer tool has its effect I think).

Besides an interest in the power of voice within a screen, internet-based work environment, the podcast is a very well-loved medium within the tech-community and having a version of the readme.md text in this format seemed quite obvious to me: both for spreading out further the manifesto (as in “following the logic of the manifesto that has to reach as much people as possible”) and also for transpose it inside a quite ad-hoc circuit (the podcast scene).

Focusing then on the worker (or the user) itself, from the notes.md I added to the repo on github:

What I am trying to push with git, the readme.md file and services like github, is a sort of new subjectivisation accomplished thanks to the act of publishing a project in a public website and presenting it through the readme.md file. You do exist because you are able to present your project; your project does exist because it has been presented by you. The two elements, creator and artefact, find their space in the general discourse of a site like github through the readme.md file.

How does subjectivisation work on someone using these specific tools? How much does the use of voice influence the usage of these tools and the discussion around them? What’s the role of the body in all this (e.g. can the voice be a way to materialise it)?