A quick update amidst all the travel posts to announce the publication of a new article, “‘Dark Mass,’ or the Problems with Creative Crowd Labor,” in a special issue of The Journal of e-Media Studies on “Computational Cultures After the Cloud.” The issue is edited by Jentery Sayers, who invited me to submit something after seeing my presentation, “Digital Voices: Migrant Workers in Digital Texts of Dubai and Los Angeles,” at a panel on Labor in New Media at MLA12 in Seattle. Many thanks to Jentery for his encouragement and feedback, for putting together a really amazing collection of complimentary, critical, and (in my humble opinion) transformative digital scholarship, and for the lovely introduction, which is so kind!
Here’s a short abstract about my contribution for the issue:
Crowdsourcing has been praised as a means of distributing work and lowering the costs of production for a variety of contexts: commercial, creative, not-for-profit, academic, and so on. This article examines the problematics of creative crowdsourcing, with an emphasis on labor, both as a subject of representation and as a process that involves the work of volunteers, laborers, writers, and artists. The projects examined, Flight Paths and Mobile Voices (VozMob), offer two contrasting examples of such work that take migrant workers as their focus, thus providing ideal texts as a site of examination at the level of narrative, medium, context, and process. The readings offered situate the projects within the urban environments that inform them-Dubai and Los Angeles-and examine the politics of authorship and voice that must be reevaluated when studying born-digital literature.
This article is culled from two different chapters of my dissertation, which examines temporariness (especially in terms of labor) in global cities. Much of the work on Flight Paths was inspired by an early project Amanda Phillips and I did for Alan Liu‘s Literature+ graduate class. I was introduced to the piece a couple years back and immediately struck by the visual beauty of the flash-based narrative, but ultimately really troubled by its content. You can probably see me working through my uncertainty toward the piece and its process, very much aided by a comparative reading of VozMob. I see so much potential for both! Potential that may still be accomplished, I think…