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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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9. Basteln, Tinkering, and Bricolage: A Cultural History of Hacking (Alexander von Lünen)

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9. Basteln, Tinkering, and Bricolage: A Cultural History of Hacking

ALEXANDER VON LÜNEN

University of Huddersfield

Introduction

Despite—or because of?—the plethora of literature on hacking, the terms “hacker” and “hacking” appear fuzzier than ever before. Revolving around the (usually male) computer nerd and his tendency for criminal exploits, publications differ on what “hacking” actually implies, and whether there is a culture and history of hacking beyond the computer world. While it is not the ambition to provide a definitive answer to the question what “hacking” actually is, this chapter attempts to look at it from a specifically non-IT angle to broaden the scope in which hacking is usually discussed in.

This chapter will look at this culture and history of hacking and, to some extent, of making. As case studies, technology in the interwar years will be discussed, particularly radio and aviator equipment. After these historic examples of hacking and making, this chapter will discuss cultural connotations and concepts of hacking and making by examining the words “basteln” (German, verb; noun: bastler) and “bricolage” (French, verb; noun: bricoleur), both of which are translated into English as “tinkering”. It will be pointed out, however, that “basteln” and “bricolage” have slightly different cultural connotations. The word “basteln” does not always have a negative or derogative tone to it when it comes to technology, as the English “tinkering” may have. While “basteln” often...

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