Digital Labor and the Anthropocene

It may not come as any surprise that the world this work and these hacks are building is one that cannot last. One might as well say already that this is already a civilization that does not exist. The material conditions that afford it are eroding already. Whether we are adding to the world some quantity of labor or some quality of hack, it is as if we were just building more sandcastles while the tide comes in.

This is the meaning of the Anthropocene: that the futures of the human and material worlds are now totally entwined. Just as Nietzsche declared that God is dead, now we know that ecology is dead. There is no longer a homeostatic cycle that can be put right just by withdrawing. There is no environment that forms a neutral background to working and hacking.

Just as the category of ‘man’ collapses once there is no God, so too the category of the social collapses when there is no environment. The material world is laced with traces of the human, and the human turns out to be made of nothing much besides displaced flows of this or that element or molecule.

The dogma that ‘reality is socially constructed’ turns out not so much to be wrong as to be meaningless. What all the workers and hackers of the world are building is more and more of the same impossible, nonexistent world. We are building third nature as the hyperreal.

Two tasks present themselves, then. The first is to think the worker and hacker as distinct classes but which have a common project. The second is to think that common project as building a different world. Can this infrastructure we keep building out, this second and third nature, actually be the platform for building another one? Can it be hacked?

Source: McKenzie Wark | Digital Labor and the Anthropocene «DIS Magazine

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