Thursday, 27 September 2012

25.9. visitors from alternative examples of enterprise, work and space

For this meeting we had four visitors to tell about their experience as entrepreneurs or creative workers:

Jaana Pirkkalainen, who told about the "cultural cafe" Hertta, which at the moment is an experience that has ended, but that went on from 2008 - 2012 summer, situated first in Tammelantori, Tampere, and then even more centrally Näsilinnankatu Tampere.

Annukka Tuppurainen, cultural producer, partner and worker at Kallo Works - a space founded for cultural producers to meet and have a working community. Annukka will also be experimenting and studying "creative space" for a thesis work.

Miika Peltola, 3rd year CBM student and partner in a graphic design office Sissy. At the moment Sissy has no space of its own at all, and even though in the future they will have an office in Helsinki, the partners will continue working through internets.

Aapo Kivenmaa, 3rd year CBM student who showed examples of a record business Avenger Records he is involved in - do it yourself or do nothing! - and the Vastavirta (Countercurrent) rock-festival organized this summer for the tenth time in Kokemäki with no funding whatsoever...

The issue of doing what you love and being able earn a living was much discussed...

17. - 20 Reposaari/ 18.9 New Work, New Practices

Sergio Bologna: The Italian term »precariato« has a slightly different significance than the notion of the »abgehängtes Prekariat« (»socially-detached precariate«), which has become a buzzword in Germany in the debate on the »Unterschicht« (»lower class«). Differences in systems regulating work often make it difficult to compare particular social classes using the same terms or definitions. In Italy the traditional liberal professions have a form of self-regulation via their professional associations (guilds, chambers). These provide protection from risks for members and in some cases offer better benefits than the general social insurance scheme. Second-generation self-employed workers are members of what are known as »non-regulated professions«. Despite fifteen years of mandatory contributions, which have been increased significantly by Prodi’s government, they are only eligible for paltry benefits from the social security system. They have no form of self-protection – that is also a consequence of their fragmentation. We distinguish between the self-employed who can move freely on the »skills market«, the pseudo self-employed (who work, for example, for a single client and invoice the client every month) and casual workers/jobbers, who experience precarity as a »normal state of affairs«. Basically however all these groups are exposed to risk and the insecurity associated with precarisation. A typical feature of the post-Fordist era is to-ing and fro-ing between various different employment relations, which has become necessary to secure one’s livelihood: sometimes one is an employee in a wage-based contractual relationship, then self-employed again, then unemployed once more etc. 
To my mind the notion of the »individual as a company« is nonsense, an absurdity. In economics and in European theory of law the concept of the company is always associated with the terms »institution«, »organisation«, »complex structure«, with three essential, distinct social roles within this structure: the role of the financier, the role of management and the role of the workforce. If these three social roles are assumed by one and the same person, then we have no right to talk about a »company«. In that case it is independent work, working on one’s own account.
But why do people insist so much on wanting to describe something that is actually »work« as a »company«? Why do statistics institutes persist in maintaining this classification, whose grotesque character is revealed at the very latest when these institutions publish figures on the size of businesses and talk about »average company size«? It is because this conceals an ideological operation. The subjects in question are transferred from the symbolic sphere of work to the symbolic sphere of the company. Perhaps some people actually believe they have managed to make the leap from worker to entrepreneur and have moved from the proletariat to the bourgeoisie. In reality however they are often neither one nor the other.

Today a precarious worker may be on the breadline, tomorrow a well-paid consultant and the next minute unemployed with little prospect of re-entering the labour market. The people I interviewed almost all had a high level of professional qualifications, i.e. they were what is called knowledge workers. Three aspects made a profound impression on me, as they cropped up in all the interviews. The problem of risk is not one of them. The first aspect is the low esteem with which such people are treated during the initial job interviews in Italy, whilst in the USA firms are fighting to acquire talents and skills for their companies. The second aspect is the almost complete lack of political or civil commitment among this group; the excuse generally put forward is that they have no time for such engagement. The third aspect is the enormous difference between generations. Graduates who completed their studies in the early 1990s can look back on successful professional careers, with periods in which they worked as employees alternating with independent work. Graduates who completed their studies at the start of this millennium have enormous difficulties in starting out in their profession, even if they are have much better qualifications than colleagues ten or fifteen years older. As they cannot find work and are afraid the risky business of becoming self-employed, which seems to be increasingly difficult, they continue their studies, do specialist training or language courses, go abroad, etc. 

And here some characteristics and requirements of new work:

1. Work is not a specific activity - it is about general human abilities that are put to work, intellect, ability to language, feelings etc.

2. Work does not happen in a specific place reserved for working.
3. Work does not happen in a specific time reserved for working.
4. It is not about making a specific end-product, but about potentialities, that what is new and emerging.
5. Work has no specific individual subject: the subject of work is always a plurality, a multitude, a collective.

and requirements:

1. work requires ability to collaborate
2. it requires ability to imitate and recycle, be an opportunist
3. it requires innovativeness, ability to take risks
4. and it requires something extra, something that cannot be reduced to the task at hand - virtuosity.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What's Creativity got to do with it? 11.9.

"Creative Industries" is a term adopted and defined by the Creative Industries Task Force set up by Tony Blair in 1998: "Those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Main criticism directed at this concept, and all theories linked to it (e.g. "creative economy") is that it excludes social creativity, creativity as a shared characteristic - which instead is a fundamental property of the functioning of actual global economy. See for instance Matteo Pasquinelli and ICW - Immaterial Civil War, and Marion von Osten and Unpredictable Outcomes: A Reflection After Some Years of Debates on Creativity and Creative Industries.

So instead we listed concepts such as "new economy" or "information economy" or "immaterial production" or "information capitalism" or "cognitive capitalism". And especially Yann Moulier Boutang's (draft) article "Cognitive Capitalism and Entrepreneurship", a paper in which MB examines how the shift to cognitive capitalism relies more and more on the capture of "positive externalities" outside the traditional boundaries of the firm, and on production of public(s) rather than production of good to be sold at a market, and how this changes the classical nature of entrepreneurship. Below a short resume.

Classic entrepreneur is "an innovator who reshapes patterns of production and distribution by developing new products and processes, by opening new markets and sources of supply and by devising new forms of organization", "one who manages and assumes the risk of a business or enterprise". Classical properties of entrepreneurship are:

a. "birth of possessive individualism" i.e. "personal pecuniary motives" = entrepreneur is interested in making money. S/he is market and business oriented, practical and experimental minded.
b. entrepreneur seeks opportunities and rapid growth.
c. s/he makes strategic decisions and is familiar with industrial processes (technologies), which however are subordinated to chances of profit and behavior of the market.
d. knowledge of risk not known beforehand, no complete rational picture - use of intuition, rapidity of decision, opportunism.
e. "spirit of entrepreneurship": introduce new products, innovate
f. conquest of ownership important, also control and incorporation of the physical resources and assets within and outside the firm (physical positive externalities)
g. entrepreneur as a manager is more a risk taker than the owner of capital.
h. s/he is a master in organization processes, has control over the internal organization.
i. and a master in making decisions and choices in incomplete and big organizations.

Already for the classical entrepreneur knowledge is an important thing - he has need of intuition, categorizations, schematization, judgement for practical purposes and for choice. The entrepreneur is the first to cumulate intellectual capital. However, entrepreneurship is not developing in a continuos way, but there is a huge transformation taking place because of globalization and cognitive capitalism.

What is cognitive capitalism?

1. a huge change is labor processes because of the  massive spread of ITCs
2. immaterial production is becoming hegemonic, immaterial assets have the greatest value and potential
3. new kind of property and property rights - ownership is challenged by the right to use by new practices but also new economic models of doing business or organizing production, consumption, saving and investment.

Cognitive capitalism is a "type of accumulation", resting on management of knowledge and production of innovations, on immaterial investments. Capture of returns from knowledge and innovation play crucial role in the creation of profits. Main institutional and organizational issues concern questions of IPR, location within networks and alliances, and management of projects.

22 characteristics of cognitive capitalism:

1. Virtualization of economy and increasing role of information (knowledge)
2. Because of ICT and internets, producers are more interconnected. Digital information needs to be/ can be gathered into knowledge goods and practical knowledge activities.
3. ICT-related innovation is still going strong.
4. Production of material goods replaced by production of knowledge through means of knowledge, and the living activities of interconnected brains (human beings...)
5. continuous innovation - science and knowledge directly embodied in production of value, and are becoming the hegemonic part of the accumulation system.
6. classical division of labor becomes a hinder, not a way to efficiency and productivity. Cooperation more important than separated specialization.
7. Autonomy and intelligence become the main source of value. (Intelligence: production of repetition but with a difference). Exploitation of the innovative force more important than exploitation of labor force.
8. Material production is not the core of the production or accumulation system any more.
9. The meaning and content of "value" changes: general human properties such as intelligence, care for others, social relations, communication etc. represent the core of wealth.
10. Consumption is mingled with production. Market precedes production.
11. From importance of individual performance to the importance of the team, local governance, territory, whole society - global performance.
12. Traditional divisions of capital and labor are blurred.
13. Each good is produced with four components: hardware, software, wetware (activity of living brain = human beings), netware.
14. Emergence of models of social productive cooperation, p2p etc.
15. Netware and networks form a third space between markets, and firms and states.
16. Labor is a living activity and cannot be reduced to machines.
17. Situated and implicit knowledge cannot be reduced to machines or information. Commodifying knowledge involves two kinds of problems: knowledge goods are quasi public goods, and their private appropriation can only be achieved through social conventions (e.g. defining shared cultural goods as private property involves ideology and politics); digitalization challenges the technical fences to property rights.
18. Separation of work from personal life becomes blurred.
19. Standard forms of employment decline, there is a constitutional crisis of the salary system.
20. In complex systems interactions and sharing expand, which boosts the value of "positive (or negative) externalities". 
21. Externalities determine the the general conditions of growth, investment and redistribution of revenue.
Here the example of bees, to clarify what is meant by "positive externalities". In classic outlook, what bees do = produce, is honey. This can be likened to the firm that produces goods - thus, to get better value one needs to make the production of honey more effective. But, bees have far more important role than production of honey, and that is pollination. Pollination is a "positive externality" - it is external to the production of honey, yet, it is far more significant and creates more value than production of honey.
22. From decreasing returns we go to increasing returns.

... still updating, missing the NEW properties of entrepreneurship... manifold are the ramblings of economical scientists... 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Creative Alternatives 2012 What is it all about? and program for the course

The course serves as an introduction about basic thoughts and tools we will need to see and think ourselves as actors in the general and vague field of "creative economy". What do we mean with it - why are we interested in it - what can we do about it? Beyond a general attitude of "take the money and run". We need to find a sustainable and intelligent, even critical and creative attitude towards economy, creative business, enterprise. We need to understand the world we live in - because we're about to contribute to it's making.

This year my idea is to engage students more in experimenting alternative ways of seeing and thinking themselves, in practice - and this will be done by constructing an experimental space. 

To pass the course you will be expected to be present, and active. I have invited some experts to talk, to tell you about their experiences and their expertise. Use the possibility and ask them all the questions you have always wanted! I will also be giving you assignments along the meetings, plus the main joint experimental enterprise.
Remember also to give feedback!


11.9. What has Creativity got to do with it? We will also meet Dharma and Gregg and have no bananas or anything else for that matter - and go on from there.

18.9. Alternative practices of production. For ARTS students the course happens in Reposaari, mingled with "Dialogues of Art and Theory" course. For School of Economy students there will be an assignment in storytelling.

25.9. Alternative examples and visitors

3.10 - 4.10: Experimental Space to open!

9.10 Final theoretical-practical insert and visitor.