From Carmen Hermosillo’s (aka humdog) 1994 essay Pandora’s Vox
i have seen many people spill their guts on-line, and i did so myself until, at last, i began to see that i had commodified myself. commodification means that you turn something into a product which has a money-value. in the nineteenth century, commodities were made in factories, which karl marx called “the means of production.” capitalists were people who owned the means of production, and the commodities were made by workers who were mostly exploited. i created my interior thoughts as a means of production for the corporation that owned the board i was posting to, and that commodity was being sold to other commodity/consumer entities as entertainment. that means that i sold my soul like a tennis shoe and i derived no profit from the sale of my soul. people who post frequently on boards appear to know that they are factory equipment and tennis shoes, and sometimes trade sends and email about how their contributions are not appreciated by management.
Seventeen years later, it’s still the same, but in one sense it’s worse. Before it was just selling ads based on traffic. Now we’re processing the text of your posts for sentiment. Processing your social connections to determine whether your or one of your friends are more of an “influencer.” We’re trying to peer into meaning. Typically the concerns about text-mining / social-network-analysis / big-data revolve around privacy, which I believe mostly clouds the issue.