Making and Hacking

We made it: thanks to all the authors and reviewers who contributed to the Digital Culture & Society journal issue on Making and Hacking! It’s been great editing this issue together with my colleague Karin Wenz.

So in case you were ever wondering: Is making the new hacking? Are we indeed all makers or is this just part of a larger (techno)myth? How do members of hacker- and makerspaces deal with issues such as sustainability and what does the prevailing “just do it” philosophy in hacker cultures mean for ethnographic research? The authors who contributed to this issue address these (and many other) questions: among the contributors are Kat Braybrooke and Tim Jordan, Jeremy Hunsinger, Sabine Hielscher, and Sebastian Kubitschko. The introduction is available online for free; the issue and individual articles can be purchased here and here. All articles will be made available as open access on the journal website after 12 months.

 

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Tracing controversies in hacker networks

Looking forward to AoIR2017 in Tartu! I will present a part of my research on hacker cultures which is particularly important to me – and is likewise giving me a headache sometimes: ethical decisions and moral issues concerning participants’ interests and privacy. The hackers and makers I met so far were often very generous with the information they share – online as well as in interviews. But when sharing online, how aware are they of the contexts in which their statements can be published? And how do you deal with statements that address third persons? In my talk “Tracing Controversies in Hacker Networks”, I will therefore address the ethics of research on hacker communities. Here’s a preview of some of the issues that I will touch upon in my presentation.

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Hack – all the things?

For this year’s Association of Internet Researchers Conference 2016 in Berlin, I hosted a roundtable on “Hacking Cultures: Hack all the things?” together with Tim Jordan, Sebastian Kubitschko, and Karin Wenz. Starting at 9am on the first day, the panel was not overly busy yet… But: we had a great, small round of participants and hence a fascinating discussion. Thanks to everyone who joined in, and a special thanks to Angela Krewani for moderating the session! If you missed the roundtable and are curious what it was about, read more about the session and the ‘lightning talk’ which I contributed.

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Health (crisis) mapping: How to map public health?

Earlier this month, I started working on a paper which will be published in an edited volume on Geographies of Digital Culture. My article will explore how developments in ‘neogeography’ and big data-mapping have influenced the field of public health surveillance. It will deal with questions such as: How can social media content be used in order to monitor and map infectious disease developments? What kind of challenges do public health services face which are based on users’ self-diagnoses and rely on citizens’ willingness to participate? How can researchers encourage users’ involvement in “participatory epidemiology” (Freifeld et al. 2010) and how can these crowdsourced data be combined with other sources from e.g. news websites or social networks? The following draft is an excerpt from my introduction.

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Call for Papers: “Hacking and Making: Meanings, Practices, Spaces”

Together with my Maastricht University colleague Karin WenzI will edit the fourth issue of the Digital Culture & Society journal. The issue will be dedicated to the topic: “Hacking and Making: Meanings, Practices, Spaces”. We look forward to receiving exciting submissions to our call for papers:

In 2014, hackerspaces in the Netherlands issued an open letter to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (PPS): In this document, members of hacker communities from Amsterdam, Heerlen, Utrecht and other cities called upon the governmental institution to revise the definition of ‘hacking’ as it was presented on its website.[1] While the PPS defined hacking as “breaking into computers without permission”, the hackerspace members highlighted that hacking means to creatively engage with technologies and to explore them in ways which were not foreseen by their original producers. Opposing the reduction of hacking to illegal activities, they described hacking as exploration of technological boundaries and possibilities.

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Inaugural issue on “Digital Material/ism”

The inaugural issue of Digital Culture & Society on “Digital Material/ism” has just been published (October 2015): It presents case studies as well as methodological reflections and theoretical insights into digital materiality and materialisDigiCultS_Materialismm. The issue contains articles by Tim Barker and Conor McKeown, Till A. Heilmann, Stefan Werning, Laura Forlano, Grant Bollmer, Ashley Scarlett, Yuk Hui, Moritz Hiller, Evelyn Wan and Sabrina Sauer.

Moreover, for the first issue I have interviewed media theorist Jussi Parikka about his book “A Geology of Media” (2015), the relevance of new materialism and the need for critical, digital humanities. My Maastricht University colleague Karin Wenz spoke to sociologist Tim Jordan about his book “Information Politics” (2015), reflecting on issues of power, control and politics in digital culture.

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