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In Tiziana Terranova’s piece on free labor, she claims that we must “move beyond the┬ánotion that cyberspace is about escaping reality in order to understand how the reality of the Internet is deeply connected to the development of late postindustrial societies as a whole.” I find this really interesting especially through the lens of free labor. To accept the critical role existing societal structures in the physical world have on the internet, is also to accept that these societal structures with the power and access to the internet are mostly corporate entities. The notion of the internet as an escape from reality is undermined when you realize that many of the forces you may be trying to escape are even more dominating online.

I believe that Terranova’s claim is true in terms of critically analyzing the internet to discover the forces that have lead it to where it is. However, I feel that solely viewing it as a reflection of society is also very limiting. As modern technology is allowing us to interact with the digital in a physical way more akin to our real life interactions, the internet can begin to serve as an archive, a mirror and a model. The internet may prove to be the greatest test ground for humanity. We can use it as an alternate way to address societal issues but it can also provide us with alternate societal models that are not as visible in the physical world.

Although I believe that much of the free labor online is exploited but that is highly due to the fact of the capitalist and corporate domination of the internet. Rather than simply just trying to adjust to to the systems that have been set up, I wonder if we can also separate ourselves from such a “practical” view of the internet and utilize it as a way to access and practice new systems outside of the dominant ones. Things like bitcoins and anonymous could be considered examples of new systems that have been allowed to rise on the test ground of the internet. Maybe a new model of free labor that doesn’t exploit people could be develop.

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