A little while ago, I posted an excerpt from a documentary by Adam Curtis entitled All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, which ‘explored the idea that humans have been colonised by the machines they have built’. In it he said:
‘…some of the computer Utopians from Silicon Valley were also beginning to realise that the world wide web was not a new kind of democracy, but something far more complicated where power was exercised over the individual in new and surprising ways.
Carmen Hermosillo had been one of the earliest believers in the new communities of cyber space, her online name was humdog and she lived on the West Coast, but then she lost faith and she posted an attack that caused a sensation online –
It is fashionable to suggest, she wrote, that cyberspace is some island of the blessed where people are free to indulge and express their individuality. This is not true. I have seen many people spill out their emotions, their guts online, and I did so myself until I began to see that I had commodified myself.
Commodification means that you turn something into a product that has a money value. In the nineteenth century commodities were made in factories by workers who were mostly exploited… but I created my interior thoughts as commodities for the corporations that owned the board that I was posting to, like Compuserve or AOL, and that commodity was then sold on to other consumer entities as entertainment.
Cyberspace is a black hole. It absorbs energy and personality and then re-presents it as an emotional spectacle. It is done by businesses that commodify human interaction and emotion and we are getting lost in the spectacle…’
Although Frag Name of the Day is not a blog as such and I don’t share my thoughts and emotions the way I did when I wrote on Slap of the Day, and therefore I am not commodifying myself here as much as I used to, the fact that I gave some companies a platform on which to advertise their wares and services was a form of commodification since I wasn’t getting anything out of it at all. People didn’t click on the ads and I wasn’t getting any revenue from them, but whatever company was advertised at any particular moment still benefited from being on these pages thanks to me (seeing an ad often stays in the mind even if one doesn’t click on it).
It was time to put a stop to it.