Whitewashing the fence: sustainable clubs, Google image labeler, and work-power as an epiphenomenon.

THE CRITICAL MASS is a “sustainable dance club” which uses the kinetic energy of the visitors to power the club itself. The project is framed by its designers as a solution to the wastefulness of the traditional dance club; I see it as a kind of capture of surplus energy which is then transformed into a feedback system, creating game-able loops of information, particularly if – and this isn’t clear – visitors can understand their collective agency, or even their contributive agency, to the ecosystem of the club.

A comparable project is the Google Image Labeler, a game which generates labor – specifically, the task of meta-tagging – as a by-product of a game of semantic coordination between strangers. Players get to accumulate points, Google gets thousands of images tagged without paying a dime for the labor. The labeler seems to have been targeted for abuse, however, perhaps sabotaging its value as a method of producing meta-data. One wonders whether the motivation is to game the system for more in-game points (intrinsic motivation), or if it is an attempt to engineer AdSense traffic results, as certain keywords may cause certain ads to be more likely to appear (extrinsic motivation.) Google is well-equipped to filter out the noise of the latter, of course; if the motivation is the former, however, and the enthusiasm of players who could produce “honest” results is dampened by their inability to compete with a tribe of keyword-sharers, then they may actually see a decline in benefit.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Whether or not the ‘honest’ players are outflanked by the ‘keyword sharers’, Google has a reasonable motivation to elicit dishonest behavior, even if the ‘dishonesty’ is as simple as skewing relevancy statistics. Some of the world’s largest public companies are based on the proceeds of gaming, where surplus labor is willingly divested by millions of players who each believe their destiny is to somehow “beat” the system.

    The question is not how many ways can players “game” the system, but how many ways can the system “game” the users.

    Con men and casinos follow the same formula: 1) create a glittering edifice of credibility, 2) engender false hope by dramatizing the winnings accorded a select few, 3) incite the user to dishonest behavior, by investing in something that is anything but a sure bet.

    Google’s revenue come from advertising, but advertising is driven by user. Users come to Google for content. Thus content itself is the metric that ultimately drives Google. Content is going to be slung onto the Internet at a much faster pace if the operators believe that they are going to somehow have an edge or an unfair advantage.

    Since this belief is not based on an enforceable contract, Google is able to dupe the “gamers” again and again.

  2. Anonymous

    Whether or not the ‘honest’ players are outflanked by the ‘keyword sharers’, Google has a reasonable motivation to elicit dishonest behavior, even if the ‘dishonesty’ is as simple as skewing relevancy statistics. Some of the world’s largest public companies are based on the proceeds of gaming, where surplus labor is willingly divested by millions of players who each believe their destiny is to somehow “beat” the system. The question is not how many ways can players “game” the system, but how many ways can the system “game” the users. Con men and casinos follow the same formula: 1) create a glittering edifice of credibility, 2) engender false hope by dramatizing the winnings accorded a select few, 3) incite the user to dishonest behavior, by investing in something that is anything but a sure bet.Google’s revenue come from advertising, but advertising is driven by user. Users come to Google for content. Thus content itself is the metric that ultimately drives Google. Content is going to be slung onto the Internet at a much faster pace if the operators believe that they are going to somehow have an edge or an unfair advantage. Since this belief is not based on an enforceable contract, Google is able to dupe the “gamers” again and again.

  3. Anonymous

    Whether or not the ‘honest’ players are outflanked by the ‘keyword sharers’, Google has a reasonable motivation to elicit dishonest behavior, even if the ‘dishonesty’ is as simple as skewing relevancy statistics. Some of the world’s largest public companies are based on the proceeds of gaming, where surplus labor is willingly divested by millions of players who each believe their destiny is to somehow “beat” the system. The question is not how many ways can players “game” the system, but how many ways can the system “game” the users. Con men and casinos follow the same formula: 1) create a glittering edifice of credibility, 2) engender false hope by dramatizing the winnings accorded a select few, 3) incite the user to dishonest behavior, by investing in something that is anything but a sure bet.Google’s revenue come from advertising, but advertising is driven by user. Users come to Google for content. Thus content itself is the metric that ultimately drives Google. Content is going to be slung onto the Internet at a much faster pace if the operators believe that they are going to somehow have an edge or an unfair advantage. Since this belief is not based on an enforceable contract, Google is able to dupe the “gamers” again and again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s