Welcome to the 8th issue of the Immaterial Labour Union zine. The latest trend in urban development, one of the biggest concerns in the quest for the perfect 'smart' city is that of human behaviour and, more specifically, how that behaviour can be influenced. Human beings make irrational decisions, or so the line goes, which can hopefully be made rational with the intervention of 'smart' technology. All of this in the quest of the most efficient of all possible worlds. When we launched the open call we asked the following questions:"What consequences do 'smart' cities present for the future of labour? What governance modalities are at stake? What is the space for accident and error on a tech-utopian efficiency paradise? What is the role that corporate social networking platforms will play in the 'smart' city? What are the terms of service of the smart city and who is defining them?". We received contributions that not only reflect about the answers to these questions, but extend them and imagine possible, alternative futures. We therefore hope, with the present issue, to at least scratch the surface of the immense complexity involved in the political economy of 'smart', networked cities and the consequences presented towards a society where pervasive labour becomes the norm.
Simone Cassiani's poem echoes the fading voice of a subject immersed into a universe of metrics, statistics and hyperproductivity, which, operating under the effect of networked capitalism, can only demonstrate its reluctance.
Jathan Sadowski presents us with an alternative politics of data management and storage, where data ceases to be a commodity owned by corporations and instead a new democratic institution is created ,which, through participatory practices, serves the public good safeguarding access and transparency.
Danja Vassiliev' s "netless" appropriates part of the public transportation infrastructure to facilitate an independent network of data exchange related to citizens' urban experience. Silvio Lorusso's contribution reflects around the immersion of the individual into the concept of the office and its diffusion to non-traditional "work" spaces, through the extended use of digital devices and in alignment with existing structures of the "urban sphere".
Joseph Knierzinger offers a set of browser plug-ins which challenge the notion of "smartness" within emerging browser based technologies. Humorous yet historically and culturally aware, these plug-ins are based on significant devices of production and organisation. Lídia Pereira documents a future media ecological and archaeological finding, a swan's nest built from hardware presented in the Museum of Natural History of Rotterdam in 2085. It wonders about the space for accident and error in a narrative full of smooth surfaces of automation and efficiency, thus questioning tech-utopian visions of quantification, measurement and automation.
Nikos Voyatzis's contribution remixes the 'Posture Chair' of Greek architect and cybernetician T Zenetos, a dystopian 'smart' piece of office furniture that would make ever getting out of it absolutely unnecessary, as it seeks to fulfil an individual's every need and bodily function.
Professor Ursula Huws was, unfortunately, unable to participate, so instead we are directing you to these two pieces she wrote about the issues surrounding platform capitalism and our constant state of connected labour: Platform Labour: Sharing Economy or Virtual Wild West?1 for Progressive Society and Logged In2 for Jacobin Magazine.
Danja Vassiliev, Jathan Sadowski, Joseph Knierzinger, Lídia Pereira, Silvio Lorusso, Simone Cassiani, Δεριζαματζορ Προμπλεμ ιναυστραλια
All contributions to the zine, unless otherwise specified, are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License 1.33.