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In a world where everyone is an entrepreneur, it’s hard work getting others excited about funding your project. Money goes to those who know how to attract attention.

Not only that, but everyone’s project becomes about attracting attention. And means and ends get flipped: The projects that you once were trying to get attention for to complete end up becoming advertisements for the central and more directly satisfying project of getting attention.

More generally, the “everyone’s an entrepreneur” ethos injects competition and its associated optimization processes into activities that once had little to do with efficiency and more to do with relaxing efficiency’s demands. I’m thinking mainly of consumption inescapably functioning as media production. Of course, consumption has always “produced” status along the lines that Veblen described, but status was not statistically measured, and it arguably drew some of its force from that indistinctness. The intense and immediate mediation of everyday life has changed that, allowing consumerism to become a more direct game of “winning” the internet, “winning” Facebook, etc. There is less time or space in which one can forget to think of oneself as capital.

But the idea of having autonomous capital in oneself is still an illusion. Morozov’s point about entrepreneurial subjectivity is well-put:

Some would view this new kind of immaterial labor as “virtual craftsmanship”; others as vulgar hustling. The good news is that now you don’t have to worry about getting fired; the bad news is that you have to worry about getting downgraded by Google.

The seemingly unlimited self-expression online doesn’t translate into owning the means of production. The means of producing the “self” as a value-producing entity currently belongs to tech companies.

Evgeny Morozov: Hackers, Makers, and the Next Industrial Revolution

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