When I say 'luckily software has nothing to do with business', what I mean is that software is uniquely positioned, compared to all other engineering, to be free of economies of scale: it is cheap to develop and has near zero cost of reproduction.

In other words, software development can be done outside a capitalist context to a much greater extent than material forms of tinkering. Coding is not an expensive hobby: only the free-time component applies. Even a fairly weak form of UBI could give a big boost to free software, because most available software (still) is not developed by businesses or for business purposes but as a hobby by hobbyists who expect nothing in exchange.

I am not claiming that software engineering for the money is somehow illegitimate. I consider the entire 'work to live' arrangement to be illegitimate. Software engineering, like writing, benefits more from the abolition of that arrangement because of the combination of low resource costs & a lot of people willing to do it for fun.

Amusingly, the very attributes that make it possible for something to escape from capitalist domination also make it particularly desirable to Capital. The elevation of sign or Spectacle over reality is like Capital engaging its death drive, since value is wholly imaginary.

The logic of markets depends upon the (strictly incorrect but historically mostly good-enough) notion that there's some natural value to things, inherent to them and stable, which can be determined by looking at what people are willing to pay. When use value is the primary factor, sure. When labor value is the primary factor, sure. When the primary factor is speculative (what other people are predicted to be willing to pay), cost becomes totally unstable.

This instability is mostly unpredictable. Of course, anybody who bets on instability and wins is going to attribute that to skill or insight, and since losing money is harder than making it once you're rich, they can remain unchallenged in this attribution. But, there is no major insight factor -- merely survivorship bias. The winners win bigger and the losers lose more as we become untethered from the world and get stuck in never-never land, where the tinkerbell effect is the only law.

In other words, speculation is the end of those elements of markets that have ever been generally beneficial, but since they are overconfidence-generating machines, Capital is pulled into their gravity. I think we're past the event horizon here already. IP is a lot like speculation: the value of social constructions is usually dominated by social constructions, as production & marginal costs approach zero.


"Software is eating the world" is maybe better phrased as "The Spectacle is eating the End of History".

· tootstream · 0 · 6 · 9

@enkiv2 Are you familiar with #McKenzieWark's work on #Vectoralism as something separate from capitalism?

@mattcropp It's interesting. I don't particularly agree with their position, but I like their analysis. Doing all that structural analysis and then saying "OK, but actually I want to be in the position of the capitalist and extract that labor" instead of "let's flip the table & make things equitable" feels wrong.

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