Keith Hart on Mon, 13 May 2013 22:47:36 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Jaron lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class

Thanks for posting this. It's a great interview and I downloaded the book
onto my Kindle. Lanier's ideas about the middle class as an artificial
product of modernity are interesting and of course I loved all that stuff
about the digital revolution generating a shift from formal to informal
economy. I gave a lecture not long ago to Italian tax economists on "How
the informal economy took over the world" (you couldn't make it up). But my
real favourite is "IE + IT = ED" (Informal Economy plus Information
Technology equals Economic Democracy - both essays at

But isn't it all just a bit Luddite? What kind of work were all those Kodak
employees doing? Putting transparencies in plastic boxes to post to the
owners. It's just a rearrangement of social labour, like when Manchester
cotton textiles put Bengali weavers out of business. How else could Indian
workers join the world economy than by putting their cheap labour to making
something else? And why should the American middle classes keep using 400
times more energy per capita than their Ugandan counterparts if the work
they do is now redundant. The cell phones phase of the internet revolution
is now allowing parts of Africa to leapfrog the West. Kenya leads the world
in mobile phone banking and recycling cheap computers for use by poor

Lanier has some good ideas about employment creation under different
economic conditions. But the basic whinge is so parochial. What else do you
expect from a musician?


On Mon, May 13, 2013 at 10:01 AM, nettime's avid reader <>wrote:

> __You talk early in ?Who Owns the Future?? about Kodak ? about
> thousand of jobs being destroyed, and Instagram picking up the slack
> ? but with almost no jobs produced. So give us a sense of how that
> happens and what the result is. It seems like the seed of your book in
> a way.

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