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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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8. Why Locality and Presence (Still) Matter for Political Activism (Sebastian Kubitschko)

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8. Why Locality and Presence (Still) Matter for Political Activism

SEBASTIAN KUBITSCHKO

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Introduction

Ever since the first invention of digital machinery, and even more so since the mass distribution of computing in the early 1980s, practices related to media technologies and infrastructures (MTI) become an ever more consistent part of political arrangements. Hackers have accompanied, influenced, co-determined and critically reflected on the role technological “innovations” play for social, cultural, economic and political constellations from its early days. Thanks to remarkable research on the cultural significance of free and open software (Kelty, 2008) as well as political protest and disruption (Coleman, 2014) it is understood that hackers not only rely on digital media but also act on the very politics of technology. What we do know much less about is the relevance that hackers attribute to physical locations and presence. Contemporary research on hackers, hacking and hacktivism does point to the overall significance of shared locality and of face-to-face interactions. Yet, due to the specific aim and focus of many writings, they understandably do not narrow in on this question (see Schrock, 2014). There is need, in other words, to ask: does locality and presence (still) matter for hackers in particular and political activism more generally? And, if so, why and how? In this chapter I want to make a small step forward to deepen understandings of hacker cultures by zeroing in on hackers’ (continuing)...

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