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Platforms, Merchants, and Market Space / Christopher, Muellerleile

Market/place

Swansea University Author: Christopher, Muellerleile

Abstract

This chapter argues that the emergence of telegraphic technologies and their effects on markets in 19th century offers a unique analytical lens through which to rethink the spatiality of contemporary digital platforms. The chapter considers the effects of separating the communication of information...

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Published in: Market/place
Published: Newcastle Agenda
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa51240
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Abstract: This chapter argues that the emergence of telegraphic technologies and their effects on markets in 19th century offers a unique analytical lens through which to rethink the spatiality of contemporary digital platforms. The chapter considers the effects of separating the communication of information from the transportation of physical goods, and what effects this separation has on the character of markets and market makers. Specifically, the chapter compares telegraph enabled commodity and financial exchanges in the 19th century with digital platforms such as Amazon, Airbnb, and Facebook. A number of common effects are apparent. First, in both instances, the merchant class appears to acquire disproportionate power in rearranging the spatialities of the socio-economy according to the logics of exchange value. Second, one of the main ways they acquire this power is through the shrewd management of vast increases in circulating information. In part this is accomplished by constructing new abstract categories and in some cases, full-fledged information infrastructures. Third, financial and commodity merchants and contemporary platform capitalists both succeed by evading previous systems of social and juridical regulation, one effect of which is a tendency toward monopolization.