Message 00968 [Homepage] [Navigation]
Thread: joxT00881 Message: 88/89 L1 [In date index] [In thread index]
[First in Thread] [Last in Thread] [Date Next] [Date Prev]
[Next in Thread] [Prev in Thread] [Next Thread] [Prev Thread]

Re: [jox] A response to Michel and Jakob

Hi Michael,

I agree with what you describe. Of course it is like the rent received through a billboard but that is also similar to extracting rent from land. 
I agree with you that for the moment Facebook extracts speculative money from stock markets. Hence, its value of 100 billions USD is fictitious.
But, in long term, Facebook can only extract money from Stock Market if it is renatble in term of adverts. Otherwisem that 100 billions will reduce to something very small, if will not vanish altogether. What I am suggesting is that there is a direct relation between speculation on th rentability of Facebook through advets and the value of its share in stock exchange.
All the best
Michael H Goldhaber 03/23/12 9:00 AM >>>
Hello Michel and Jakob, Toni, et al. ,
Thanks for your query, belated Happy Birthday, Michel, and here's a short answer. 

I disagree strongly that attention can be either bought or sold for money. At best, an organization like Facebook, whatever it thinks it's doing, can only sell a chance to get a user's attention. If the ad is boring or irrelevant and not in itself attention-getting on its own terms, it certainly won't work. And even if it is, in theory, that doesn't mean that the user will necessarilydirect relation pay it any attention. 

Instead, Facebook offers an opportunity for users to get attention from their friends or friends of friends, etc. The way Facebook is able to pay for the ability to offer this is another story. So far, it's done it mostly through selling stock. Eventually, if it's to keep going it will presumably have to find some way to satisfy the stockholders that it has decent "earnings per share". But these earnings may be quite small for each user. If the advertising model works, those who fall for the ads, will have ot pay a premium for whatever they buy that will go to pay the advertising cosets, and therefore the costs, among other things, of buying the advertising space form Facebook. In this way, the costs of an ad on Facebook may be compared , very roughly to the rent for a billboard or the like, but again, the billboard or the Facebook ad will have to rely for its effectiveness at least in part on the genius of the ad's creators as well as the desirability and interest of whatever is being sold. The advertisers will have ot compete with the attention-getting ability of the friends of each particular user. Often to compete efffectively , advertsiers will rely on stars or beautiful models, etc. to grace their ads or endorse the products, and these endorsers will alos have to be paid out of the proceeds of selling whatever "it" is. 

Michael H. Goldhaber

older site,

On Mar 22, 2012, at 12:11 AM, Michel Bauwens wrote:

Thanks Jakob, definitely an interesting thesis,

and it sets me thinking, but still very ambivalent about the analogy between physical and virtual rent .... I copy Eduard Miller in, he's a Georgist very keen on land valuation tax,

Eduard, the thesis of Jakob is that Facebook is extracting rent from 'virtual space', like it would happen with physical land,

as opposed to the attention economy thesis, where it is the attention that is being sold ...


On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 6:51 AM, Jakob Rigi <rigij> wrote:
sorry for wrong spelling. I meant clicks. 

"Jakob Rigi" 03/21/12 7:36 PM >>> 
Hi Michel,
The number of cliques possibly showes how crowded the space is. The more crowded, the more rent. Or?


Michel Bauwens <michel> 03/21/12 3:47 PM >>> 
[Converted from multipart/alternative] 

[1 text/plain] 
a possible counter-argument ... a lot of online ad systems and possibly 
including facebook, only charge for actual clicking and transactions, not 
just rent for the ad being there ... would this not be a form of actualised 
attention ? but in any case, the attention is the condition for the rent, 
but you may be right that the 'real' thing being sold is the result of 
attention, but not attention itself 

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 2:44 AM, Michel Bauwens <michel>wrote: 

I don't think I argue that facebook users produce exchange value at all, 
except indirectly by virtue of their attention ... but your argument of 
rent spaces is of great interest, and illuminating I think ... I wonder 

what attention economist Michael Gol dhaber thinks of your argument, so I 
put him in cc, 


On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 2:22 AM, Jakob Rigi <rigij> wrote: 

Hi Michel, 
First, thanks for information on AOL. I am writing a full article on 
this. I live the discussion on knowledge economy to this more elaborate 
article. But shortly, the rent extracted by knwledge economy is not 
pocketed by knowledge workers but big capitalists. Star knowledge workers 
get some of this rent, but not every knowledge worker. Here, I just limit 
myself to faceebook. In your piece in Al Jazeera you say that facebook 
users do not create exchange value in the oppening part of the 
articl, but, then in the middle you calim that they produce exchange 
value. Ho?, you say they produce coomunicative use values by writing 
and posting. And you say that these communicative use value are not 
commodities. I agree. But, then you claim that participation in these 
activities is creating a pool of attention which is sold as a commodity by 
facebook as a commodity. I disagree. 
Attention is result of activities of users such as , seeing and 
hearing. . So users produce the pool of attention. Now if the attention 
is a commodity, then facebook participants produce directly exchange value. 
And the whole this value is surplus value, because the fecaebook 
participants do not receive wages from facebook. Jonathan Beller has 
developed a whole theory in this style of argumentation and coined a new 
term "Cinematic mode of production". 

Now, I think both you and Beller are categorically mistaken in claiming 
that Facebook is selling attension to advertisers. No, facebook is letting 
pieces of virtual space to adverisers and receive rent for it. The law of 
rent are the same in virtual and physical spaces. The more attractive a 
space, for whatever reason is, the amount of rent is higher. Who does pay 
the rent advertisers? From where do the advertisers get the rent that they 
pay to fcaeebook? That is part of the surplus value they extract fom their 
own workers. Now, both you and Beller mistake has a ligitimartment te 
source. There is a dierect relation between the number of users and amount 
of rent that facebook collects. And this create the llusion that users' 
attention is the source of money. An 2 bed room apartment in a posh area 
of Manhatan can collect a rent of 6 000 USd, but the same apartment in 
Queens could barelly collect 1200 USD. Now the location makes the place 

more attr active but has not to do with producing the rent. The same is 
true of attension for virtual spaces. Attension makes them attractive and 
help them to extract higher reents but does not produce a peny of exchange 
value. We really need Hegel and Dialectics. 

all the best 
Michel Bauwens <michel> 03/21/12 9:29 AM >>> 
[Converted from multipart/alternative] 

[1 text/plain] 
hi jakob, if I remember it correctly, AOL hugely depended for its success 
on forum volunteers, I think this is what she is referring to .. 

Could you send me a final text that I could publish on the p2p blog, 
I have already done so? 

I do find the thesis problematic myself, because it accepts that the only 

& gt;> worthy value is exchange value. But knowledge workers creating 
for society, use value, communicative value and many other types of 
non-monetary value. It is this peer to peer exchange that should be 
protected, and why we need 1) to create our own platforms and networks 2) 
refuse commodification of this 3) replace revenue-sharing by benefit 
sharing 4) find a solution for our social reproduction needs, 

No, peer producers are not exploiting wage workers and extracting value 
them, we are creating value, for them, and we are one and the same .. the 
knowledge workers are now the primary expression of the working class in 
the western world, who don't own capital and still need to sell their 
labour time in order to survive, 


On We d, Mar 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM, Jakob Rigi <rigij> wrote: 

Hi All, 

I read Tiziana Terranova`s artickle `Free Labor: Producing for Digital 
Economy ` for the first time this evening.I want to see whether she 
a particular arguement of why as Michel claims in his piecen Ajazeera 
pool ofattention of the users produce value for facebook. 
Terranova claims the AOL was run by Volunteer labor. Can any one of you 
explain this for me? Or email me please titls of books or articles? 

Meanwhile, I enclose a piece I wrot eon facebook, 

**** ** 

? Occupy Wall Street and the Peer-to-Peer Revolution: a discussion with 
Michel Bauwens Part I 

** ** 

Jakob Rigi 

A brief response to Chris Land?s and Steffen Bohm?s Short Essay: ?They 
exploiting us! Why we all work for Facebbok for free? 

** ** 

The gist of the essay is the following hypothesis: The users of 
produce value in the same way as wage workers produce it. Hence, 
exploits users by expropriating this value. 

** ** 

Although I have a great respect for Land?s and Bohm?s good intentions 
sympathize with their anti Facebook sentiments their claim that 
exploits users by extracting value from them is wrong. 

** ** 

Facebook definitely exploits someone. But whom? The answer is: the 
world wage labor which is exchanged with capital (variable capital), 
including its own workers. This is Marx?s definition of productive 
under capitalism. From the point of view of capital only the labor that 
produces value and surplus value is productive. Only, in this limited 
productive labor is equated with the wage labor, whether material or 
immaterial, which is exchanged with capital. Otherwise, all labor as 
far as 
it is a purposeful activity is productive, because it produces 
whether material or immaterial. 

** ** 

& gt; > 
A small part of the value expropriated by face book is produced by its 
paid workers, and the overwhelming rest of such value consists of rents 
which are extracted from the worldwide wage labor (both material and 
immaterial) which is exchanged with capital. Hence to claim that 
users produce value is to deny the role of wage laborers and their 
antagonism to rent-extracting entities such as faceebook and google. 

** ** 

Marx, in Vol. 3 of Capital, demonstrates how the surplus values that 
are produced 
by different sections of working class become a total pool and then are 
redistributed among industrial and commercial capitalists ( in the form 

of profit), Bankers (in the form of interest ), a nd land owners (in the 
form of rent). So the source of both interest and rent is surplus value 
produced by the labor which is exchanged with capital. We use banks on 
daily basis and banks lend our money (savings, pensions..) to others in 
exchange for interests. It would be absurd to claim that users of banks 
produce value for banks. We spend time and energy to use bank services, 
even when we use credit cards. But this energy -time does not produce 
value, because it is not exchanged with capital. Even when users pay 
to banks for using services they, do not produce values but buy values 
which are produced by bank workers. It is equally absurd to claim that 
users of Facebook and Google produce value. Facebook and Google extract 
rents that are parts of the total surplus value which is produced by 
wage laborers worldwide, including their own workers. 

Actually the knowledge economy in general rests on the shoulders of the 
wage labor which is exchanged with capital outside it. The overwhelming 
part of the value circulating in the knowledge economy is produced by 
labor outside it, though knowledge workers themselves also contribute 
the total surplus value to the extent that their labor is exchanged 
capital (variable capital). 

** ** 

The thesis that users produce value for facebook may lead to the 
practical misleading conclusion. The users should build their own p2p 

cooperatives of Facebo oks and Googles, and sell information and collect 
fees for adverts. According to the thesis this is a fair exchange, 
the members of such cooperatives appropriate the value they themselves 
produced. But, such cooperatives only replace Facebook in extracting 
surplus value in the form of rent from the wage labor. The thesis 
foregrounds rentier forms of p2p communities. Hence, the thesis is 
indeed a mystification of the exploitation of labor by capital. 

To conclude the claim that users produce value for facebook is a very 
bad thesis. We should not fight to become rent suckers but to abolish 
labor, surplus value, in all its forms including rent 
omments are welcome, as I try to expand the essay. 


Toni Prug <toni.prug> 03/20/12 9:15 PM >>> 
How do we run a city without accounting? A region? A state? How do 
we collect contributions, as we do in the forms of tax and money 
today? We ask for tax to be voluntarily donated and hope for the 

How does Wikipedia collect contributions? Or Free Software? Or 
WikiSpeed? They let the people contribute, because they want to. The 
rest is organization -- which is done in the same way: by voluntary 

It is a huge topic, so i will limit my response to this small bit. 

Monetary contributions to Wikipedia and Free Software are such a tiny 

part of the overall cost of those productions that it is hardly worth 
mentioning - since the actual cost is not the cost of infrastructure 
core staff, but the cost of reproduction and spare time of all the 
contributing volunteers. 

In other words, those economic activities that pay for the housing, 
clothes, food and the rest of living costs of all contributors are the 
activities on which p2p entirely depends - wages, studentships, 
funds, inheritances ... all earned or created in capitalist or other 
existing systems based on commodities, exchange, labour, money, value. 

To be more precise, p2p is an incredibly thin, but an important new (i 
agree with the need to research it), way of producing voluntarily and 
collectively. However, it seems quite inappropriate to call it a mode 
production, since it rests on top other modes and fully depends on 

To put in simple terms (without entering economics or marxist 
terminology): on its own, p2p can't build, mantain and develop a city, 
nor can it organize division of labour and allocation of overall 
produced wealth necessary for such achievements. While slavery, 
feudalism, capitalism and socialism all could/can. 

It's not a surprise that p2p theorists have not been able so far to 
produce a plausible vision of how a p2p society perhaps might one day 
delivery cities and rest that other modes of production delivered so 

and that we wish to improve on. Producing such vi sions is a task too 
difficult for anyone or any group of humans - this is one important 
thing to learn from social sciences (equally from Marx, or Keynes, or 
neoclassical economics and political theorists): there are too many 
complexities involved. 

Hence the need to stick with analysing the existing p2p practices, and 
to recognize conditions in which those practices exist - the above 
mentioned total dependence on other dominant modes of production being 
the starting point. 

Yes, you may rightly say, new starts its existence in the old. You may 
also say that there are new phenomena which are able to boot-strap 
itself out of the old and create a new totality on their own. The 
problem is, nothing so far points out in the direction of p2p being 
a new phenomena able to become an overall logic of organizing the 
society (mode of production, if you wish), due to its full dependence 
the existing modes of production - i'm speaking here as a p2p fan and 
a former and occasional p2p practitioner who would love to see any 
evidence of the opposite. 


P2P Foundation: - 

Connect:; Discuss: 

Updates:; mbauwens;; 

[2 text/html] 

P2P Foundation: - 

Connect:; Discuss: 


P2P Foundation: - 

Connect:; Discuss: 

http: //; 

[2 text/html] 

P2P Foundation: - 

Connect:; Discuss: 

Thread: joxT00881 Message: 88/89 L1 [In date index] [In thread index]
Message 00968 [Homepage] [Navigation]