Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Andrew Herman is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Director of the Graduate program In Cultural Analysis and Social Theory at Wilfrid Laurier University. He received his B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Boston College. He has written widely in the field of social theory, media and culture and his appeared in scholarly journals such as Cultural Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, South Atlantic Quarterly, and Anthropological Quarterly. Among his many publications is his book, “The Better Angels of Capitalism: Rhetoric, Narrative and Moral Identity Among Men of the American Upper Class” (1999) and his edited collections, “Mapping the Beat: Popular Music and Contemporary Cultural Theory” (1997), “The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory.” He is currently working on two book projects: ‘Blackberry’ Capitalism: Media, Mobilties and Enterprising Selves of Late Neo-Liberalism” and an edited book on “Materialities and Imaginaries of the Mobile Internet.”


Apps. Affect and Differential Materialities/Mobilities of Digital Labour

This paper will report on my research project into the mobile media industry of the Waterloo Region in Southwestern Ontario. This research project “Digital Labour, Media Materialities and the Moral Economy of a “Mobile Media Ecology” examines the spatial architecture of digital labour and networked work practices of places such as the Canadian Digital Media Network, Communitech Hub, and the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, with a particular focus on the role of mobile media technology in shaping the culture of ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’ that is used to organize software development as well as to brand and market these organizations and the region. The paper will focus on one element of the project, which is how the Communitech Hub’s ‘App Factory’ is organized around and through the socio-technical affordances of mobile media forms. Such media forms are essential to the successful propagation of ‘project’ based networks that are the primary vehicles (literally and figuratively) for the accumulation and movement of informational capital. Yet part and parcel of the creation and sustenance of such projective networks is an affective bearing of people in the project towards their work and its goal that is thoroughly mediated by the materialities of mobile media they work with and on. This, in turn, creates differential mobilities of power within the App factory between funders, project leaders, and designers. Thus, contrary to many contemporary analyses of affective labor in digital capitalism which emphasize its ‘immaterality,’ such labour is always-already material.