The Owner/User Dialectic: TOUR #5

March 11, 2008

The user is told she is free, but this is not the case. Nowhere near it. She makes work in forms that best serve the master’s (oops) owner’s needs. Her ideas, spoken freely through newly accessible cameras, and on little screens encircled by ads, reflect those that the master taught her. They move freely across the internet, insulting some along the way, encrusted by flames of others the longer they sit still.

The user feels she is free, and so she speaks. But the owner uses other users to censor her as the owner sees fit. The user might be a person, she’s often a corporation, but more often yet, she’s an individual servicing a corporation for free! Even though all of this is done gratis, justifying YouTube’s highly celebrated “democratic” claims, little of this labor works outside the corporate economy (even for non-profits) that does very well by users’ work.

The owner, well, he has very little to do! The user (slave, oops) does all the work, and for no pay! Makes the content; rates it; censors it; watches it (and gets her eyeballs to the ads).

This is from my fifth tour. Yes, I know it’s too negative. Yes, I know people get to speak and be heard. But this is what my students learned, (perhaps because I am their teacher [master, OOPS!]):

“In computer networking, master/slave is a model for a communication protocol in which one device or process (known as the master) controls one or more other devices or processes (known as slaves). Once the master/slave relationship is established, the direction of control is always from the master to the slave(s). The County of Los Angeles, saying the term master/slave may be offensive to some of its residents, has asked equipment manufacturers not to use the term.”

3 Responses to “The Owner/User Dialectic: TOUR #5”


  1. […] of the work in marketing Hollywood films, often for free.  Alex Juhasz has an interesting post on these issues in her discussion of a “user-owner dialectic” on YouTube.  In revising my book, […]

  2. Sarah Says:

    The “she” has no agency here. You focus on the “she” in all instances, as being triumphed over, by the “master.” So it is a fixation on the image of a “she” who submits to patriarchy.

    I fixate upon another sort of “she” who imagines, moves along the subjective, concentrates desire, and acts upon the world as generative point.


  3. […] sharing his joy, not caring what people think,” I see the potential power of people being reduced to… (see, here’s where the self-criticism hits, am I really as negative as all that! As […]


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