Hacking in and as culture

As part of my ethnographic perspective, I am trying to see what’s the fuss about hacking. Why do people alter devices? Why do films and books feature dystopias where a hacker is usually a hero?

Think of “1984”. Winston tried to hack  the Big Brother system, it’s a story about this man who wanted things differently, as well as an outcast collective of people who wanted to break free.

What about “Brave new world”? Bernard and his unorthodox beliefs – according to the World State order – are characterised as “misfits”.

Films: Johnny Mnemonic; Tron; Hackers; The Matrix; all of them featuring hackers who are trying to break a system in order to reconstitute the truth

This is the link between anthropology and hacking: the search of truth; question everything. Anti-authoritarian people.

Lately I read “Ready Player One” by Ernie Cline. I must admit, I devoured the book. It’s definitely one of my most favourite of all time – and well, yes, it’s about a hacker. Here’s the official website, it’s definitely work reading it if you’re into retro games, hacker culture, dystopian literature.

I’ve been using hacked material for years. Linux are so powerful and stable. Do the job, can do more if you want to.

Lately I hacked my Barnes and Noble Nook color, putting a 32GB micro SD card with CM7 which transformed it into a powerful Android tablet.

I extended my skills by rooting my HTC phone, again with CM7 (one of the best OS I’ve used!).

And you know what? That feeling of distress before you see the screen load up certainly does it for me. And of course, the pleasure of a good hack – a geeky pleasure. We’re talking about geek aesthetics.

I’m just throwing ideas out there. Feel free to propose more readings/films etc.



One thought on “Hacking in and as culture

  1. It’s about mastering the components and then modifying the generic, mass-produced things useful for you personally. A way for ‘Anyone’ to have bespoke goods or such.

    I’m not the tech-saavy whiz you are but I ‘hack’ recipes all the time. I read interesting ones and re-work them to my tastes, replacing ingredients I don’t like with ones that will give similar effect, or flat out eliminate impossible-to-find ingriedients, or convert to vegetarian or to meat, etc. I have that same buzz of anxiety before others taste it, but at the same time I know my skills and have confidence that what I’ve done will hold together well.

    Hope you are doing well these days. Of everyone at UCL I miss still knowing you most. Sharon (@cultureworker)

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