Use of New Media in Cultural SectorIntroductionThe explosion in size and use of the Internet - and more generally of Information Technology (IT - was providing the technical (and in part the organizational) basis for a truly self-managed economy. Tens of thousands of grassroots social movement organizations around the world can contact each other through the Internet, as can businesses, government and research organizations with their massive databases and economic modeling tools. Were there to be a revolution in any country in the world tomorrow, the possibility for an immediate transition to democratic and efficient planning using the Internet would put to rest the claims about the unfeasibility of a socialist economy.
(for further reading on the potential of information technology for democratic planning, including concrete estimates of times required to carry out various decision making tasks using existing computers (Turow, 2003). Use of IT for self-management assumes, of course, that those things about which IT would store and analyze information would be in the hands of workers, not capital. Information technology is simply a tool for administering power, not a way of seizing it. Media hype about the information age and the way IT can provide a friction-free, democratic capitalism, ignores how and why IT is developed and applied today: as a tool to find newways of extracting surplus value in an economy still centered on the production of material, not virtual, goods and services.
A down-to-earth understanding of the use of IT in today’s political economy is a prerequisite for a level-headed picture of how we might get to a self-managed society, which will not come through the click of a mouse but through the tramping of millions of feet, the raising of millions of hands, the use of billions of voices to seize the factories, the mines, the offices - and the computer. Use of new media as a strategic management tool within the cultural sectorHighly flexible technologies are transforming the economic landscape.
Modern computer software only requires the tapping of a few control board keys to re-programme large industrial processes and machinery. Capital-to-labour ratios are growing and workers find themselves further removed from making things and closer to the consumer-driven tasks of ensuring product variety, innovation and quality. This demands fresh skills, oriented towards people and technical developments, with less involvement in specialised production activities.
(Aaker, 1997; 315-328) Work is being re-organised, with the rigid job hierarchies of the mass production era being abandoned. Responding to the advance of information technology, employers have seized opportunities to twist the new industrial flexibilities to their own advantage. Workforces have not only contracted, but temporary and fixed-term employment contracts, sub-contracting and other forms of job insecurity have been imposed. Some trade unionists, ill-prepared by today's lack of detailed debate in the labour movement about industrial change, have responded defensively, viewing these deliberate tactics and the technology itself as a single project, to be condemned--as if a return to yesterday's large factories geared to volume production were possible.
(Aaker, 1997; 315-328)