Net Work pp 154-173 | Cite as

Free Labour: Web Designers’ Ethical Responses to User Activity

  • Helen Kennedy


This and the following chapter move away from the focus on aspects of work which are specific to web design, which has characterized the previous three chapters, to attend to two issues relevant to the cultural industries more broadly: ‘user activity’ in this chapter, and celebrity culture in the next. User activity is one of many terms (including UGC (user-generated content), participatory media, social networking media, social media, Web 2.0) used to capture a participatory turn in the new media landscape. Whilst new media have always been more open to interactivity than older media, a particular kind of participation can now be witnessed: users engaging in culture-producing activities. Users have, of course, been producing culture for the digital economy for some time, as Terranova noted more than ten years ago (Terranova, 2000), but it is only recently that significant scholarly attention has turned to this phenomenon, as it has spread beyond the web economy to other media forms. This chapter consciously reworks the title of Terranova’s essay ‘Free Labor’, published in 2000, to highlight the ways in which the ethics and values of web designers influence their responses to a range of user activities.


Social Capital User Activity Spec Work Cultural Industry Digital Economy 
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Copyright information

© Helen Kennedy 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Kennedy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsUK

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