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Making Our World

The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context

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Edited By Jeremy Hunsinger and Andrew Schrock

Making Our World: The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context describes and situates the political, historical, national, and organizational elements of hacking and making. Hackers and makers are often mythologized, leading to people misunderstanding them as folk heroes for the modern age. In response, this book describes and critiques these movements from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives to help readers appreciate their worldwide scope and highly localized interpretations. Making Our World is essential reading for students and scholars of technology and society, particularly those interested in social movements and DIY cultures.

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5. Conscientious Hacking and the Weak Collective (Nathanael Bassett)

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5. Conscientious Hacking and the Weak Collective

NATHANAEL BASSETT

University of Illinois at Chicago

Much of what drew me to hackathons emerged from the political climate of 2011. Optimism dangerously bordering on digital utopianism suggested anything was possible when autonomous and individual activists worked together via technology. At the same time, political ambitions seemed to depend on the use of technology. The Arab Spring and Tahrir Square demonstrations inspired the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, which produced an abundance of self-documentation (DeLuca, Lawson, & Sun, 2012). The proclivity of Occupiers to produce and share their own media content could make it one of the most documented events in history (Meehan, 2011). A self-awareness of the independence of participants characterized Occupy as a “leaderful” rather than a leaderless movement. This lead to strong tensions within the community between “open/closed” positions, or hierarchical vs non-hierarchical organization (Costanza-Chock, 2012). The non-hierarchical social arrangement of Occupy resonated with the politics of mesh networks, and how the power to define the movement was distributed among the participants, rather than being passed down from the top.

Those tensions over hierarchy mimicked another type of collaborative community work. Occupy had protestors coming together and working towards communitarian ideals, in pursuit of some collective agenda or goals. Hackathons also have people come together to accomplish personal and collective goals. Hackathons are work “sprints,” from a portmanteau of “hack” and “marathon” bring together hacking...

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