Glossary:Playground as Factory

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Work should be like play. Playgrounds are set in a way so that the consequences for trying something and making a mistake are low. -- David Merrill


The idea that one gives up information though play, and that game mechanics get people to give away information or provide information to a system. This playground becomes a hidden factory. Underneath is real work, but on top rides the feeling of play.


Foursquare, which awards points to users who check into a place, and more points for users who create a place. Creating a place is technically a data entry task, but the addition of points makes the task into an experience that is rewarding for the user. When the points one user has accumulated is constantly compared to others, it becomes a digital playground with competitive elements and playful behavior. In this way, a seemingly dull and repetitive task becomes incentivized and even sought out, as the place database becomes increasingly populated, the amount of new territory, as well as the chance to earn a higher level of points, decreases.

Conference on Internet as Playground and Factory

The title of recent conference on digital labor.

Conference Abstract

"Today we are arguably in the midst of massive transformations in economy, labor, and life related to digital media. The purpose of this conference is to interrogate these dramatic shifts restructuring leisure, consumption, and production since the mid-century. In the 1950s television began to establish commonalities between suburbanites across the United States. Currently, communities that were previously sustained through national newspapers now started to bond over sitcoms. Increasingly people are leaving behind televisions sets in favor of communing with -- and through-- their computers. They blog, comment, procrastinate, refer, network, tease, tag, detag, remix, and upload and from all of this attention and all of their labor, corporations expropriate value. Guests in the virtual world Second Life even co-create the products and experiences, which they then consume. What is the nature of this interactive ‘labor’ and the new forms of digital sociality that it brings into being? What are we doing to ourselves?" [1].