In Chapter 4, Celia Lury states that according to Lazzarato, “immaterial labour produces the informational and cultural content of commodities,” which is “informed by social relations and brings (new) social relations into being.” Lury goes on to say that the line between producer and consumer is not as solid as it once was, stating that because “commodities deeply affect the consumers who use them and the consumers themselves transform the commodity in use,” then “the consumer has a continuous productive role.” (104)

The first thing that came to mind while reading this was television.  I think it’s safe to think of television as a commodity, or at least having commodity-potential.  We help to commodify television through our ‘immaterial labour’ consisting of avid watching, DVRing, and discussing of television programs.  By consuming programs like Game of Thrones and Girls, and then raving about them, we create demand for HBO. People will be more inclined to purchase the premium subscription because of the talk circulating around the programs, and with more people purchasing subscriptions just to watch Game of Thrones or Girls, gives more reason to keep producing the show.  The fact that HBO even considered to offer HBO GO without a cable subscription shows the potential of consumers to transform this ‘commodity.

A for-sure example of how consumers of television transformed it, is through social media and the platforms from which we are able to watch. Because of technological advancements and our increasing use of mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, we’ve grown accustomed to being able to check our emails, surf the web, listen to music, play games, get work done, from anywhere at anytime, so why should watching television be any different? Because of this, VOD services such as Netflix and Hulu, which initially started off as websites, have apps spread across platforms from smartphone to videogames to smart TVs; you have television networks like CW and FOX offering full episodes for viewing on mobile apps; you have Showtime adding a LIVE feature to their app allowing you to watch Showtime on your mobile device as it airs on television (as long as you have a subscription); and you even have cable companies such as Comcast Xfinity allowing access to On Demand programs from their app.  Our demand to have everything accessible anywhere at anytime resulted in this.

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Our interaction through social media has forever altered the television industry, forcing them to incorporate it into their products (shows, commercials, etc.)

And by doing so, we are enabled to participate in the ‘conversation’ and feed the machine through Facebook likes, Twitter hashtags, and even app synchronization like FOX NOW and CBS. Social media has become such a part of TV, that we now have Social TV platforms such as Viggle, GetGlue, and Yap TV that encourage live-viewing and serve as a kind of water-cooler for television.

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Live-tweeting television has become such a big thing, that Nielsen is now introducing TV Twitter Ratings. According to the article, the system will “complement Nielsen’s existing TV ratings, giving TV networks and advertisers the real-time metrics required to understand TV audience social activity.” Twitter has also given producers, writers, and showrunners, a way to interact with the fans of their programs and see what is working and what’s not to help enhance their product.  It’s basically one giant market where our public-private thoughts (tweets) are used as research to help develop programming and help advertisers better influence us into buying things.

As Lury states, “‘free’ participation is a crucial part of contemporary value production,” (104) and I believe the consumption of television intertwined with social media exemplifies that concept.

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