This Tuesday is yet another event in a year-long series of weekly conversations and exhibits in 2010 shedding light on examples of Plausible Artworlds.
We’ll be talking with the contributors and organizers at n.e.w.s. (www.northeastwestsouth.net) about their “paid usership” initiative.
n.e.w.s. itself is an online platform for the analysis of art-related activity, putting the emphasis on rethinking art’s economic underpinnings, focusing on the relationships between the attention economics of the mainstream and the smaller-scale shadow economies being experimented with. Recently, the group has initiated an open forum on the question of “remunerated usership” – and it is this aspect of the group’s work that will be at the heart of tonight’s discussion. Since its inception in 2008, n.e.w.s. has sought to maintain a model of payment (or partial payment) for putting content online, contending that value is always collectively produced through linguistic cooperation (polemics or just idle chatter) – that is, through the collective intellect. “People already get paid for online content,” they argue in the introduction to the forum, “but they are often the wrong people, because they are not all the people who worked to produce that content.” The forum’s objective is to discuss and evaluate the pros and cons of a paying people to use the internet, perhaps taking to heart Jean-Luc Godard’s remark in Six fois deux that television viewers ought to be paid to watch TV. Is it possible to leverage the potential of participative technologies and communities to ensure that user-produced value be remunerated? The very question is paradoxical inasmuch as n.e.w.s. itself is a non-commercial platform, without any institutional structural subsidy to pay its users, obliging the collective to both explore and test drive alternative models of exchange and collaboration – including gift economics.
Though fascinating, and perhaps economically coherent, the whole idea of moving from pay-for-use to paid-to-use seems to fly in the face of common sense. But could it be that for this very reason that it may point to a key component of a more plausible artworld?