3(1) 2017: Making and Hacking

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Now showing 1 - 11 of 11
  • Article
    Experimenting with Novel Socio-Technical Configurations. The Domestication of Digital Fabrication Technology in Fab Labs
    Hielscher, Sabine (2017)
    Grassroots digital fabrication workshops (such as FabLabs), and associated technologies (such as 3D printers), are attracting increasing attention as a potential source for addressing a variety of social and environmental challenges. Through an analysis of an in-depth case study on FabLabs, this paper aims to provide insights into the practices emerging in these workshops and realities of the relationship between its members and technologies that are currently underresearched. It does this by drawing upon the domestication literature that concerns itself with how people use, adapt and reject technologies and integrate them into their life. The paper examines the significance of the interactions between people and technologies in FabLabs and offers concluding reflections on the role of these relationships within broader social and environmental changes.
  • Article
    Genealogy, Culture and Technomyth. Decolonizing Western Information Technologies, from Open Source to the Maker Movement
    Braybrooke, Kat; Jordan, Tim (2017)
    Western-derived maker movements and their associated fab labs and hackerspaces are being lauded by some as a global industrial revolution, responsible for groundbreaking digital “entanglements” that transform identities, practices and cultures at an unprecedented rate (Anderson 2014; Hills 2016). Assertions proliferate regarding the societal and entrepreneurial benefits of these “new” innovations, with positive impacts ascribed to everything, from poverty to connectivity. However, contradictory evidence has started to emerge, suggesting that a heterogeneous set of global cultural practices have been homogenized. This paper employs a materialist genealogical framework to deconstruct three dominant narratives about information technologies, which we call “technomyths” in the tradition of McGregor et al. After outlining the maker movement, its assumptions are examined through three lesser-cited examples: One Laptop per Child in Peru, jugaad in India and shanzhai copyleft in China. We then explore two preceding technomyths: Open Source and Web 2.0. In conclusion, we identify three key aspects as constitutive to all three technomyths: technological determinism of information technologies, neoliberal capitalism and its “ideal future” subjectivities and the absence and/or invisibility of the non-Western.
  • Article
    Hacking Together Globally. An Analysis of the Norms Surrounding Technology
    Hunsinger, Jeremy (2017)
    This paper examines events that occur synchronously around the globe at hackerspaces: during Global Synchronous Hackathons, participants use video streams to share experiences, work and interact in real time. This paper analyses synchronous hackathons through video repositories of these events. It aims at discerning what norms are enacted in presented hacking experiences and how those norms are communicated across the video streams. Hacking in these cases should be thought of as the creative activity of using technology to build something that solves a problem or challenge. Hackerspaces are social workshops and communities renting a physical space and usually interacting in digital spaces. In these environments, individuals are involved in hacking as combined social as well as solitary activities which, to some extent, embody certain norms. Individuals also create the “technological drama”; that is they create the discourse around the objects that inform their use and embed them in cultures. These cultures and their discourses possess norms which flow through them and exist around the objects. Members of hackerspaces commonly participate in the aforementioned “Synchronous Hackathons.” By comparing videos of these hackathons, I stress the relevance of norms which are not usually listed in reflections on hacker ethics such as those of Steven Levy or Pekka Himmanen: the awareness of the global other or the awareness of what might be termed “the cosmopolitical.” These norms seek to care for and attend to the people who exist at a distance. This transformation of local to global “hacker ethics” demonstrates the growth of the recognition, at least internally, that hackerspaces embody more than their local concerns: they are part of global movements with global interests and globalising norms. The video analysis is used to demonstrate the globalising norms of these communities as the norms surrounding cosmopolitics become more prevalent in their discourses.
  • Article
    Identity Crisis in the Pearl River Data. A Conversation with the Hong Kong Hackerspace Community
    Poon, Michelle; Klein, Wilhelm E.J. (2017)
    This paper is a conversation-based reflection on hacker-, maker- and DIY-culture. It focuses on the unique cultural and socio-economic setting of Hong Kong, using Dim Sum Labs, its first hacker/makerspace as its primary subject of investigation. To provide context, we begin with an outline of the cultural, economic and physical challenges presented by Hong Kong. We then proceed to present and relay conversation pieces from interviews with members and non-members of Dim Sum Labs, who speak about their respective perspectives on notions of “hacking,” “making” and “DIY-culture.” Finally, we provide some reflections on our own experiences as members of the hacker/maker/DIY-culture and past directors of Dim Sum Labs.
  • Article
    Richterich, Annika; Wenz, Karin (2017)
  • Article
    Making Sense of Sensors
    O'Riordan, Kate; Parker, Jennifer; Harris, Davis; Devereaux, Emile (2017)
    The paper explores the different projects resulting from a practical workshop on making and hacking biosensors. The projects and the workshop enable a series of reflections about biosensors and their commercial promises and what they might offer to other constituents in digital arts theory and practice. These reflections include issues about expertise and how to “make with sensors,” how inner states of being can be communicated in social situations, non-human relations and the possibility of radical communication beyond the human, and questions about materiality and performance and the role of the manifesto in relation to devices. These points are developed to argue that despite the radical promise of biosensors to offer new forms of communication, the objects they produce often fail. However, the process of design and making opens up questions about the technological horizon and possibilities for connection in a deviceorientated culture.
  • Article
    Making with China. Craft-Based Participatory Research Methods for Investigating Shenzhen‘s Maker Movement
    Marshall, Justin; Rossi, Catherina (2017)
    In January 2015, Li Keqiang visited Chaihuo makerspace in Shenzhen, the Chinese city that is the world’s electronics manufacturing capital. The visit expressed the significance of China’s fledgling but fast-growing maker movement: while its first makerspace was set only up in 2010, in 2016 there are over a hundred, and Keqiang’s visit is part of a bigger governmental push on makerspaces, positioned as sites of creative and technology-led innovation key to the country’s economic growth. Amidst growing research into the social, politicoeconomic and cultural significances of makerspaces in the UK and Europe, the specificity of China’s maker movement remains underresearched. Yet understanding the on-the-ground lived experience, rather than the promotional rhetoric, of China’s maker movement is crucial to its future: while lots of makerspaces are opening, many lack makers, and there are fears that China’s maker movement is an artificially fuelled bubble about to burst. Contemporaneously, the future of other types of making in China, such as its craft traditions, urban manufacturing networks, and shanzhai production, is being threatened by an assemblage of fiscal and state forces. Investigating China’s maker movement was the focus of two British-based and British-funded network, research and knowledge exchange projects in which the authors participated during 2015 and 2016: Living Research: Making in China and China’s Creative Communities: Making Value and the Value(s) of Making. This paper considers their research methodologies and initial findings. Specifically, it focuses on the craft-based participatory methodology developed in China’s Creative Communities, as seen in a “Digital Craft” workshop. Informed by social anthropology, its empirical, immersive and inclusive approach gave a voice to makers themselves. While still in a developmental stage, we believe this “craft anthropology” approach has value for future research into the maker movement in China and in other cultures and contexts.
  • Article
    Reading Makers. Locating Criticality in DIY and „Maker“ Approaches
    Stoyanova, Minka (2017)
    Since its inception, digital and interactive art has been forced to negotiate the tension between the inherently spectacular nature of the technologies it uses and the desire of creators to embed relevant critical stances within the work. With the recent rise of “maker” or DIY culture, this negotiation has become even more pronounced as the production of technologies becomes more accessible and (allegedly) more democratized. In addition, our relationship with technology is becoming increasingly intimate. Whereas machines once could have been read as tools, through which we would enact our individualized wills, they now implicate themselves into our mental processes, our bodies and (one could argue) our very being. Within this cyborgian construction we risk mindless acceptance and integration of the particular logical models technology and its producers bring to the merger. A tension arises between our need to understand or recognize the logic which drives our lives and the technology, which often seeks to obfuscate that logic. This paper, through the application of philosophy of technology to a specific maker subculture – as it has been adopted by a movement in fine art (art and technology) – situates making as a form of artistic practice at the intersection of these ideas. As a mode by which technologically inclined artists can navigate the spectacular and the critical in their work, making allows these artists to enact criticality through revealing underlying technical (and social) logic in the systems (and objects) with which they engage. Thus, this paper will trace the philosophical foundations of this critical approach and finally analyse a series of works that reveal strategies through which “making” as a mode of “revealing” has been refined by artists as a critical approach to embedded technological systems.
  • Article
    Urban Hacking and Its „Media Origins“
    Krewani, Angela (2017)
    This essay traces the genealogy of urban and mobile media hacking. It is argued that the forerunners of urban hacking were artists active within the Fluxus scene and Viennes Actionism. Their artistic practices can be seen as precursors for more recent interventions in public and particular urban spaces which have been described as “urban hacking.” These developments appear genealogically and are also related to a turn towards individual media production: the introduction of the Portapak video camera brought about grassroots media activism and influenced the institutionalisation of public television.
  • Article
    „Just Do it!“ Considerations on the Acquisition of Hackerspace Field Skills as an Ethnomethodological Research Technique
    Dahm, Sebastian (2017)
    In this paper I present an ethnographic approach to the research of hackerspaces. It draws upon an ethnomethodological background in order to address the role of members’ skills and knowledge. To that end, I aim for an immersive ethnographic approach in order to achieve a first-hand understanding of members’ practices. In this, I draw upon ethnomethodology as it provides a rich theoretical and methodological background for the study of skill and knowledge, namely the call for practical knowledge as an analytical instrument (Garfinkel 2006). In order to fully understand the implications of social movements like hacking and making communities, appropriate research methods are called for. Ethnomethodology, with its tradition in the analysis of epistemic practices and embodied knowledge, can provide the means for a more immersive and reflexive ethnography. By using materials of my own ethnography, I demonstrate how active engagement with members’ practices can provide for a deeper ethnographic understanding. In order to overcome the challenges of the field, I chose to adopt a project of coding myself. This acquisition of field-specific knowledge proved to be not only a valuable resource for the ongoing fieldwork but could offer important analytical insights in itself. I will show that important facets of members’ meanings were accessible only through personal experience. I suggest a broader adoption of ethnomethodological principles in ethnographic research of hackerspaces as it accommodates the underlying affinity towards experimentation prevalent in the field.
  • Article
    „There Simply Is No Unified Hacker Movement.“ Why We Should Consider the Plurality of Hacker and Maker Cultures
    Kubitschko, Sebastian; Richterich, Annika; Wenz, Karin (2017)
    Sebastian Kubitschko is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen in Germany. His main research fields are political communication, social movements and civil society organisations. In order to address the relevance of new forms of techno-political civic engagement, he has conducted qualitative, empirical research on one of the world’s oldest and largest hacker organisations, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC). Sebastian emphasises the societal and political relevance of hacker organisations: he investigates how initiatives such as the CCC combine their IT and communicative expertise to exert agency in technological developments, public debate and policy making. Conceptually, he is particularly interested in practice theory and how it may be used in media sociological and communication research. His papers have been published in international peer reviewed and open access journals. Together with Anne Kaun, he is the editor of Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research (2016). For the “Making and Hacking” issue of Digital Culture & Society, Sebastian Kubitschko (SK) discussed insights from his research in an email conversation with the issue editors Annika Richterich and Karin Wenz (EDS).