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Date Published: 4/15/1996
www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=13
Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, Editors

30 Cyber-Days in San Francisco 1.1

Yahoo! Capitalism

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker

Yahoo! goes public and its share value zooms to $1.2 billion in a single day. Touted as one of the big "concept buys" of the 90s, Yahoo!, like Netscape before it, has no real value, only virtual value. And in the age of Web economy and digital production and multi-media culture and data infotainment and convergence among the vector giants of the new world of global telecommunications, the only value in play is virtual value. Psychological perception is everything: virtual value means that things have value only in relation to the speed of their own disappearance. No longer symbolic capital or scarcity capital, virtual value is about money in its purely mathematical stage as a global vector, gathering speed and momentum only in relation to the end of value itself.

And why? Because pan-capitalism has finally entered the age of virtual money. Exiting the society of consumption, refusing the reality constraints of information culture, and certainly leaving behind the scarcity values of industrial economy, pan-capitalism has gone over fully to the side of virtual exchange-value. Virtual exchange-value is time after money, when value goes supernova and in a final brilliant implosion breaks the referential link between value and production, code and solvency-principle, use-value and exchange-value. Time after money is neither about use nor exchange, but represents the end of utility and the eclipse of exchange. Today, economic vectors acquire value only to the extent that they implode beyond the inertial weight of use-value, and go terminal on the question of value in exchange. Vector economy - the post-production economy of time after money - is allergic to usefulness and hostile to exchange. Time after money wants only its own death. It wants to witness the disappearance of money into literature, to be present when pan-capitalism finally goes parodic, when capitalism becomes a satirist of its own exhaustion of value.

Consequently, the name Yahoo!. That's capitalism as the master of ceremonies at its own worldwide financial roast where the point is to reverse value, to praise by abuse, to honor by contempt, to affirm by the joke. Yahoo! capitalism, then, for a millennial culture where money is pure virtuality, pure disappearance, pure perception, pure speed, pure death, pure mockery.

In the digital economy of vectors and speeds and slownesses, things have determinate value only in relation to the end of value. We are also living in the twilight period of time after value. Beyond (popular) consciousness, beyond (strategic) control, beyond (modernist) rationality, time after value is understandable only in terms of the ancient language of alchemy where things are interesting only to the degree that they are chimerical and effervescent and liquid. Like Yahoo!, a "search engine," without real value for a society in search of the meaning of virtual value.

Triumphant in its victory over all the old referents, from consumption and information and production to scarcity value, pan-capitalism is confident enough to play a joke on itself, and perhaps on us. Reviving the medieval tradition of the court jester, it lets us into the vernacular secret of capitalism in its (post)-symbolic stage.

Yahoo! It's time after money.

ReBoot

Or, maybe it's the opposite. Perhaps virtual capitalism can't stand its own terminal speed, begins to shudder shock at its own future as a pure vector far from the comforting shore of consumption value, and, like everybody else in the convulsive 90s, panics at the digital wildness within. That would explain the magical attraction of the name Yahoo!. A "concept buy" alright for a panic capitalism that begins to clue in to its own terminal future in time after capitalism and heads for the security of the most ancient of all referents, for the library, for a "digital search engine," as a way of making (narrative) sense of it all.

Yahoo! for prospecting digital gold.


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