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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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13. Hacker Agency and the Raspberry Pi: Informal Education and Social Innovation in a Belfast Makerspace (Pip Shea)

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13. Hacker Agency and the Raspberry Pi: Informal Education and Social Innovation in a Belfast Makerspace

PIP SHEA

Monash University

Introduction

Hackers circumvent to invent. They see the potential in things (their affordances) as well as themselves (their abilities and capabilities) to create anew with existing materials. Hackers model new structures, devise alternative infrastructures, or exploit systems. This process of material reimagining can help people gain a greater understanding of things and systems, but what forms of agency are required to hack in the first instance? The following chapter responds to this question, supported by an investigation of hacking activities in Farset Labs, a makerspace in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It argues that informal education activities performed at Farset Labs are helping individuals and groups to understand how to support hacking activities. This is framed as nurturing hacker agency: enacting the conditions to support the inversion, subversion, or reconfiguration of things. The inquiry unfolds around Farset’s Raspberry Jam program—a monthly workshop exploring Raspberry Pi single-board computers—situating it as an appropriate socio-technical system to nurture hacker agency. Empirical data was collected over a period of one year at Farset Labs. My observations were gleaned while participating in the co-working space, attending public events, participating in member meetings, and volunteering at three Raspberry Jam events.

This investigation of hacker agency in the makerspace context in Belfast attempts to provide new sightlines for “critical hacktivism...

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