Introduction Social Networking Sites (SNS) and other social media the most publicly discussed innovations of the internet Balance remains precarious between technological features which support social networking and those which facilitate online advertising.
Introduction: Examining VCVenture Capital: Often treated as an anonymous andunremarkable part of the processCultural concepts originally developed byAntonio Gramsci - HegemonyGill - transnational historical bloc
Introduction: VirtualcountriesBulletin Board Systems of 80s and 90samateur enterprisesToday’s SNS and MUVEs havepopulations the size of countries - or blocs Hundreds of professionals involved Big business Attractiveness to investors Walled gardens - Apps Tensions between social and commercial - Facebook > 500 million
Gramsci, Gill, and theHegemony of theTransnational Historic Bloc
Gramsci, Gill, and theHegemony of theTransnational Historic Bloc Commodicification, consumerism, and the power of rich elites Antonio Gramsci: “recognised that social power is not a simple matter of domination on the one hand and subordination or resistance on the other.”
HegemonyCulture and politics : Marx: underlying economic necessities Gramsci: web of relations with the economy in which there is a continual shift of emphasis and influence“Rather than imposing their will ‘dominant’ groupswithin democratic societies generally govern with agood degree of consent from the people they rule, andthe maintenance of that consent is dependent upon anincessant repositioning of the relationship betweenrulers and ruled.” Gramsci
Consent of the ruled Insidiously, a dominant bloc, in order to maintain its dominance, must be able to “reach into the minds and lives of its subordinates, exercising its power as what appears to be a free expression of their own interests and desires.”
Hegemony: The Punk example Late 1970s: safety pins in the ear and torn fabrics loosely arranged as clothing - statement of rebellion, of rejection of fashion (Hebdige 1979) Early 1980s this ‘look’ had become a fashion in itself What was revolutionary had been absorbed, packaged, and sold back to the revolutionaries Everything is allowed, if it contributes to the market - the pluralistic nature of the modern consumerist society
Gill & the New World Order Stephen Gill, Professor of Political Science at York University, Canada, writing in 2003 New World Order created after 1945 - the world after 1991 he describes as but the 3rd phase The dominance of the market, of transnational capital, the G7 (and more recently G8 and G20) and the central role of US power in supporting and spearheading this dominance.
Roosevelt’s 30’s New Deal Significant shift in US political & domestic policy Increased government control over the economy and money supply Intervention to control prices and agricultural production World War II tightened the relationship between government and economy ‘mobilisation’ of industrial units & workforce to produce of arms.
Military Industrial Complex Post World War II - Marshall Plan - NATO - emerging EEC - an international historical bloc built on a pax Americana American New Deal state - the model for the whole Western world Albeit modified by wartime mobilisation & the ‘military-industrial complex’ this had spawned.
Cold WarMobilisation not ‘stood down’ in 1945 - evolved into‘military-industrial complex’ combination of a nation’s armed forces, its suppliers of weapons systems, supplies and services, and its civil governmentEuropean and transatlantic treaties, special relationshipsand political settlements under American leadership International military-industrial-complex, underpinning an American led economic model ❿ international an historical bloc.
SupremacyHegemony of US capitalism becamesupremacy after 1st Gulf War, collapse &absorption of Soviet bloc World’s 10 biggest companies3rd phase New World Order More integrated global political economy Organised labour increasingly marginalised Capitalist elites investing in many different nations Elites include those in “key positions in transnational companies, banks, universities, think tanks, media companies, governments and international organisations such as the 1 supermarket - 6 oil companies 3 car manufacturers
Transnational historical bloc1st and 2nd phase international historical bloc becomesUS-“centred & led transnational historical bloc” atwhose “apex are elements in the leading states in theG7 and capital linked to advanced sectors ininternational investment, production and finance” whoseactivities “seek to make transnational capital a class ‘foritself’”
4th Phase New World OrderArguably the crash of 2008 heralded a new phaseChina, India and Brazil challenging US-ledtransnational historical blocG20, not G7‘Decline’ of US UK in decline since 1880sMultipolar world? https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html
Transnational Capital andSocialmedia It is the authors’ opinion that socialmedia display precisely this constellation of behaviours between a dominant bloc of venture capitalists and the tens of millions of us who willingly surrender our personal data and the conduct of our friendships and relationships to their marketplace. Peter Thiel Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook global reach http://dukky.com/2010/11/facebook-a-country-unto-itself/
Facebook global reachInterestingly - in the new multipolar 4th phase - the verycountries that are outgrowing the US are those whereFacebook lacks penetration: China, India and Brazil http://dukky.com/2010/11/facebook-a-country-unto-itself/
Web Business modelsAdvertising - but not the only model Pay per click (Adwords) Pay per download (iTunes / Mac AppStore) Subscription to service (Spotify) Multi-tier internet [wired and wireless] ‘Apps’ paid access to a web serviceHowever - advertising the most successful model
Web 2 Success storyGoogle Created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as PhD students at Stanford “to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful” “Don’t be evil” Saw Search - the most important thing on the web Created algorithm that credits a site that is linked to by other sites with a ranking that will enable it to come top of the search results Market capitalisation Nov 2010 about $190bnAn ad-supported business
Web 2 success storyAmazon Jeff Bezos founded it in 1994 Largest online retailer in US, 3rd largest in UK Market Capitalisation Nov 2010 - $75bn - 2nd after Google.The biggest online retailer - much acclaimed forits internal advertising: ‘people who bought X alsobought Y’
Web 2 success storyThe elite Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, and Ken Howery Formed Paypal in March 2000 - charges a fee for online financial transactions Sold October 2002 for $1.5bn to eBay (Nov 2010 valued at $40bn, fourth after Facebook)
Web 2 success storyFacebook Facebook valued at $50bn Jan 2011 - 3rd after Amazon
Web 2 success storyFacebook Facebook valued at $50bn Jan 2011 - 3rd after Amazon Peter Thiel Used his money from Paypal sale to eBay to create a hedge fund (very successful) and become main Venture Capitalist behind Facebook Owns 5.2% which he bought in Summer 04 for $0.5bn - now worth $2.6bn. Facebook, as Zuckerberg famously reminded us, is an ad-supported business
Social Networking & Money Marketing professionals understand that “the reason that people are attracted to social networks in the ﬁrst place is that reliance on user-generated content is seen as relatively free of traditional corporate content and advertising” (Goad & Mooney 2008). Moreover “if users perceive that a social network is becoming ‘polluted’ they will leave ❿and the evidence suggests that this can happen extremely quickly”
Commoditising friendshipFacebook utilizes transnational networks architecturally structured to transcend geography emphasising locality and the institutional, political or economic context of users’ physical localitiesRhetoric of communities-of-interestwithin communities-of-place These are markets“We are seeing the commodification of human relationships,the extraction of capitalistic value fromfriendships” (Hodgkinson 2008).
Market ResearchInvestors / advertisers can capture allFacebook users in a place (Harvard),or of a type (movie goers)Facebook repositioning themselves as‘social facilitators’ rather than marketresearchers This is a hegemonic relationship with their usersWhen Facebook over-assumes on the relationship, as withBeacon, users become aware and withdraw their consentWhen the illusion of divorce is maintained, Gramsci’s‘unwitting collusion’ is perpetuated.
PrivacyFront-end social privacy described in friendly, jargon-freelanguage on the About pagesBack end privacy described in techy language of cookies,IP logging and other opaque terminologyUsers may feel they are creating something new, vibrant,theirs, not ‘polluted’ by existing structures and institutionsand social hierarchiesPunk may have felt the same way before they saw theirstyles and tropes for sale on the high street.
Commodification of friendship Social networks critical to hegemonic dominance of the commercial interests over the social The ‘commodification of friendship’ can occur between two friends, or two hundred In economic terms, the strength of the tie or the ‘genuine- ness’ of the friend makes no difference It is the information exchanged between these ties, & across these networks with little concern for privacy policies
ConclusionUtopian rhetoric pictures SNS as a social space, mediated bytransnational communication tools, that is democratic, anti-hierarchical, open, without capitalist agendasThis ignores hidden aspects of SNS as corporate entities withobligations to venture capital investors & shareholdersRather than separate from offline capitalist institutions and histories,the internet, including SNS, is in fact a continuation of these practicesand ideologiesHaving made the move from hobby activity to corporate entity, SNShave been appropriated to become part of a hegemonic transnationalcapitalist strategy for globalised and unregulated market dominance.In classic Gramscian style, we - a 1/12th of humanity - have willinglyand gladly colluded in the creation of this new marketplace, nowworth $50bn