Instantaneity, Presence and the Economy of Abundance
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In the last decade or so, since the advent and gradual maturation of the commercial internet, the world has seen a huge proliferation in the amount and circulation of raw data available in the world. As the global economy has continued in its shift from a manufacturing to a services based economy, so the underlying rationale of capitalism has shifted from an economy of scarcity to one of abundance - from the scarcity of physical resources, commodities and access to the abundance of information, which in turn drives the economy. In the early days of the internet economy, such abundance was freely shared in an electronic parody of a gift economy, governed by the maxim "information wants to be free". This model has proven untenable, but the incipient contradiction between the law of surplus value and the proliferation of information becomes more urgent. Since the collapse of the dot-com boom, corporate interest and investment has begun to move to those Information Technology applications which both converge most closely with the body and speed up the transfer of information in global flows. The majority of the vast amount of new information being generated now is visual/ graphic or auditory in nature, rather than textual, and virtual in extension - eg. digital photographs, MPEG files, medical imaging records, etc. This proliferation drives the major global economic drive for data in industries associated with the body and life - nanotechnology, the genome project, pharmaceuticals and genetic engineering. The paper examines the place of the body in this information equation, and the way in which the concept of abundance is key to understanding how a new socio-economic paradigm can emerge from the apparent dead end of the excess of information.
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