Situated Exploitation?
From Mobile Playgrounds to Sweatshop City!



A panel discussion to launch the latest Situated Technologies Pamphlet
Featuring Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Laura Y. Liu, Trebor Scholz, and Neil Smith

Monday, November 1, 2010
7:00 p.m.
300 Nevins Street (between Union and Sackett)
Brooklyn, New York

Cabinet is conveniently located near the F, G, and R lines and there is often free street parking nearby. View map. For detailed directions, click here.

For information about how to purchase or download a copy of Situated Technologies Pamphlets 7, click here.

To listen to a podcast conversation between the authors, click here.

Please join us for this panel discussion on the relationship between labor and technology in urban space, in a context where communication, attention, and physical movement generate financial value for a small number of private stakeholders. We begin with the question: How does the intertwining of labor and play complicate our understanding of exploitation and “the urban”? The conversation will look at urban spaces of technology through the lens of digital and not-digital work in terms of those less visible sites and forms of work such as homework, care work, interactivity on social networking sites, life energy spent contributing to corporate crowd sourcing projects, and other unpaid work. In examining the shift of labor markets to the Internet, we tease out the ways that traditional sweatshop economies continue to structure the urban environment. What happens when we are not only “on” the Social Web, we are becoming it–no matter where we are–¬and when Internet users are ever more vulnerable to novel enticements, conveniences, and marketing approaches. Commercial and government surveillance are sure to escalate as new generations become increasingly equipped with mobile platforms, interacting with “networked things.” Panelists will also suggest tangible alternatives. We need public debate about contemporary forms of exploitation. Attention must be focused on social action and, while always in need of scrutiny, state regulation and policy.

The Panelists
Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The Graduate Center, CUNY and President, American Studies Association.  She examined how political and economic forces produced California’s prison boom in Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007), which was recognized by ASA with its Lora Romero First Book Award.

Laura Y. Liu is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School. Her research focuses on community organizing and urban social justice; the socio-spatial dynamics of immigrant communities; race, gender, and labor politics; and the relationship between methodology and epistemology in activism. She is writing a book called Sweatshop City, which looks at the continuing relevance of the sweatshop metaphorically and materially within Chinatown and other immigrant communities, and throughout New York City.

Trebor Scholz is a writer, conference organizer, Assistant Professor of Media & Culture, and Director of the conference series The Politics of Digital Culture at The New School in NYC. He also founded the Institute for Distributed Creativity that is known for its online discussions of critical Internet culture, specifically the ruthless casualization of digital labor, ludocapitalism, distributed politics, digital media and learning, radical media activism, and micro-histories of media art. Trebor is co-editor The Art of Free Cooperation, a book about online collaboration, and editor of “The Internet as Playground and Factory,” forthcoming from Routledge. He holds a PhD in Media Theory and a grant from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. His forthcoming monograph from Polity Press offers a history of the Social Web and its Orwellian economies.

Neil Smith is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Earth & Environmental Sciences at The Graduate Center, CUNY.  His  research explores the broad intersection between space, nature, social theory and history, with long-term research on gentrification, including empirical work in North America and Europe and a series of theoretical papers emphasizing the importance of patterns of investment and disinvestment in the real estate market.  He was Director of the Center for Place Culture and Politics at the Graduate Center from 2000-2008 and is now on its Advisory Board.

Tickets are required for admission to League programs. Tickets are free for League members and students; $10 for non-members. Members may reserve a ticket by e-mailing: Member tickets will be held at the check-in desk; unclaimed tickets will be released fifteen minutes after the start of the program.  Non-members may purchase tickets in advance here.

About the Series
The Situated Technologies Pamphlets Series explores the implications of ubiquitous computing for architecture and urbanism: how our experience of space and the choices we make within it are affected by a range of mobile, pervasive, embedded, or otherwise “situated” technologies. Published three times a year over three years, the series is structured as a succession of nine “conversations” between researchers, writers, and other practitioners from architecture, art, philosophy of technology, comparative media studies, performance studies, and engineering.

This program was made possible in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Situated Technologies Pamphlets 7 cover. Image: Film still from Sleep Dealer, courtesy of Alex Rivera,