Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TV and Free Labor

The system of TV on the internet unapologetically exploits fans and their free labor. bringing us head to head with Terranova's observation that "free labor on the Net" is both "enjoyed and exploited" (34). This becomes abundantly clearly examining the website dedicated to a TV show. Consider Jon Stewart's Daily Show site:

My attention jumped first to the central banner link to "DISCUSS THE SHOW". Here, the site actually invites you to create content under the thin guise of a discussion. When one actually follows the link, the fifth board on the list of top boards is actually "Story Ideas". The poster clearly wants to engage in direct dialogue with the show, and what more direct a route is there than actually suggest programming? The poster enters into a heuristic cycle of consuming and reinventing the show, lured by the promised dialogue.

While labor is not exploited in the way Terranova describes it (The Daily Show is not contingent on the labor these people put in on these message boards), the exploitation is still there. These people sacrifice their time to this show. This speaks to both Terranova's claim that older mediums "tend to structure the [audience's] contributions much more strictly" than newer mediums, but also to the nature of television. Television is a heuristic cycle, about reading then redefining various texts. Furthermore, it shows that old media serve as a neat entry way for capitalism into new media.

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