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Hack IT


Expanding the Frontiers of Hacking: Bio-punks, open hardware, and hackerspaces
A special issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production
Edited by: Johan Soderberg and Alessandro Delfanti

Call: 500-word abstract
Both theoretical and empirical contributions accepted

During the past two decades, hacking has chiefly been associated with software  development. This is now changing as new walks of life are being explored with a hacker mindset, thus bringing back to memory the origin of hacking in hardware development. Now as then, the hacker is characterised by an active approach to technology, undaunted by hierarchies and established knowledge, and finally a commitment to sharing information freely.

In this special issue of Critical Studies in Peer Production, we will investigate how these ideas and practices are spreading. Two cases which have caught much attention in recent years are open hardware development and garage biology. The creation of hacker/maker-spaces in many cities around the world has provided an infrastructure facilitating this development. We are looking for both empirical and theoretical contributions which critically engage with this new phenomenon. Every kind of activity which relates to hacking is potentially of interest.

Some theoretical questions which might be discussed in the light of this development include, but are not restricted to, the politics of hacking, the role of lay expertise, how the line between the community and markets is negotiated, how development projects are managed, and the legal implications of these practices. We welcome contributions from all the social sciences, including science & technology studies, design and art-practices, anthropology, legal studies, etc.

Interested authors should submit an abstract of no more than 500 words by July 10, 2011. Authors of accepted papers will be notified by July 31. All papers will be subject to peer review before being published.

Abstracts should be sent to

Critical Studies in Peer Production (CSPP) is a new open access, online journal  that focuses on the implications of peer production for social change.


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Radical Politics


Abstract: The desires and the sources of emancipatory potential of the commons for the cooperative and egalitarian global togetherness, for a new communism born through the new generation of tools and organizational practices, have temporarily been appropriated and hi-jacked by capitalism under the Open Source and to an extent Creative Commons movements. Through and with the Open Process methods of the founding Internet communities, we can make a significant step towards claiming it back. Commu(o)nism, we could call it, is a new emerging form of communism hacked with open process and new commons. The small (o) in the middle stands for open.

Tuesday 16th March, 14-16.00hrs
Room WB117 (Whitehead building, opposite Ian Gulland)
Goldsmiths College, University of London

Gabriella Coleman

”Old and New Net Wars over Free Speech, Freedom and Secrecy, or How to Understand the Hacker and Lulz battle against the Church of Scientology”

Abstract: Why have geeks been compelled to protest the Church of Scientology vehemently for nearly two decades? This talk starts with this question to present a cultural history and political analysis of one of the oldest Internet wars, often referred to as “Internet vs Scientology.” During the 1990s, this war was waged largely on USENET (a large scale messaging board system), while in recent times it has taken the form of “Project Chanology.” This project is orchestrated by a loosely defined group called “Anonymous” who has led a series of online attacks and real world protests, often using a variety of media, against Scientology. I argue that to understand the significance of these battles and protests, we must examine how the two groups stand in a culturally antipodal relation to each other. Through this analysis of cultural inversion, I will consider how long-standing liberal ideals take cultural root in the context of these battles, use these two cases to reveal important political transformations in Internet/hacker culture between the mid 1990s and today and finally will map the tension between pleasure/freedom (the “lulz”) and moral good (“free speech”) found among Anonymous in terms of the tension between liberal freedom and romantic-Nietzschean freedom/pleasure.


Gabriella Coleman

Trained as a Cultural Anthropologist, Gabriella Coleman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU. She researches and teaches on the politics of digital media with a focus on various genealogies of hacking, including Free and Open Source Software, the hacker ungrounded , phone phreaking, trolling, and cryptography/encryption. Between 2001-2003 she conducted ethnographic research on computer hackers primarily in San Francisco and the Netherlands, as well as on the largest free software project, Debian. She is completing a book manuscript “Coding Freedom: Hacker Pleasure and the Ethics of Free and Open Source Software” and is starting a new project on peer to peer patient activism on the Internet.

Toni Prug

Toni Prug is currently a PhD student at the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary College, University of London. With ten years of software and network engineering and hacking behind him, he is working on organizational forms, hacking existing practices, ideologies and state-forms. Along with working with academic journals on implementing aspects of open process cooperation, he is working on a book, “The Objects of Communism”. His work can be followed at

Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London:


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