Writing against the grain

Keep empirical political

Hackademia, Lüneburg 2016 August-September

Rationale

“extended case method applies reflexive science to ethnography in order to extract the general from the unique, to move from the ’micro’; to the ’macro’, and to connect the present to the past in anticipation of the future, all by building on preexisting theory.” (Burawoy 1998, 5)

Method

  • Ethnography: everyday experience (synchronic)
    • field
  • Historiography: change over time (diachronic)
    • archive
  • Critical theory: conceptual contradictions (dialectic)
    • theory

Specificity

  • Geographically specific
  • Historically specific
  • Internally diverse

Interventions

  • Double audience (“white and black background conferences”)
    • scholars → Science and Technology Studies, media & comms., sociology / anthropology, etc.
    • practitioners → hacker scenes, anarchist movement, free software developers, etc.
  • Strategic selection of cases
    • Internal contradictions rather than mainstream news

Hacklabs vs. Hackerspaces

Hacklabs

PUSCII, Utrecht
PUSCII, Utrecht

PUSCII, Utrecht
PUSCII, Utrecht

PUSCII, Utrecht
PUSCII, Utrecht

PUSCII, Utrecht
PUSCII, Utrecht

Ubica, Utrecht
Ubica, Utrecht

Ubica, Utrecht
Ubica, Utrecht

Ubica, Utrecht
Ubica, Utrecht

Ubica, Utrecht
Ubica, Utrecht

Ubica, Utrecht
Ubica, Utrecht

Hackerspaces

Claims

  • Northern and Southern European circuits of hacking Maxigas (2015a)
  • Taxonomy of shared machine shops Maxigas (2015a)
  • Critique and recuperation Boltanski and Chiapello (2005)

Door systems vs.     time clocks

Door systems

Time clocks

Time stamp, 1909
Time stamp, 1909

IBM Time Clock
IBM Time Clock

Acroprint 150 Manual Time Clock
Acroprint 150 Manual Time Clock

Acroprint 150 Automatic Time Clock
Acroprint 150 Automatic Time Clock

A Day in the Life of a Munitions Worker, Britain, 1940
A Day in the Life of a Munitions Worker, Britain, 1940

Harry Fain, coal loader, checks out in the afternoon after cleaning up after work. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright
Harry Fain, coal loader, checks out in the afternoon after cleaning up after work. Inland Steel Company, Wheelwright

Claims

  • Diagnosis of changes in the world of work Thompson (1967); Hobsbawm (1964)
  • Self-organisation of urban digital labour Castells (1996); Castells (1997)
  • Through technological innovation and material artefactsMaxigas (2015b)

IRC vs. social media

Internet Relay Chat

Social media

Claims

  • Luddite aspects of hackerdom Maxigas (2014); Maxigas (2016)
  • From innovation-centric to use-centered media theory/history Edgerton (2008)
  • Counterexample to critique and recuperation! Söderberg and Delfanti (2015)

Conclusion

“Analyses that either call for more political orientation or assume fundamental, widespread democratic effects tend to paper over the empirical dynamics animating the political rise of free software.” (Coleman 2012, 63)

Contradictions and distinctions

Ethnography + historiography =

  • Hacklabs & hackerspaces
  • Door systems vs. time clocks
  • IRC vs. Social media

→ Critique

A Window of Opportunity

  • Hackers vs. capitalism is complex
  • Hacker scenes are going mainstream
  • Many practitioners have identity crisis
  • Hopeful things have already been said

→ Good time for critical interventions!

THE END

Questions?

Email address:

maxigas@anargeek.net

Slides URL:

https://slides.metatron.ai/keep-empirical-political/

Website URL:

https://relay70.metatron.ai/

OpenPGP fingerprint:

FA00 8129 13E9 2617 C614 0901 7879 63BC 287E D166

Bibliography

Boltanski, Luc, and Ève Chiapello. 2005. The New Spirit of Capitalism. London; New York: Verso.

Burawoy, Michael. 1998. “The Extended Case Method.” Sociological Theory 16 (1): 4–33.

Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society, the Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford: Blackwell.

———. 1997. The Power of Identity, the Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Vol. II. Cambridge, MA; Oxford: Blackwell.

Coleman, Gabriella. 2012. Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Edgerton, David. 2008. The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900. London: Profile Books.

Hobsbawm, Eric. 1964. Labouring Men: Studies in the History of Labour. London: Weidenfeld; Nicolson. http://aaaaarg.org/thing/51c58dd26c3a0ec111f41300.

Maxigas. 2014. “The Luddite Aspects of Hackerdom: How to Build Time Machines to Alter the Course of History.” Lecture at Free Software, Free Society conference, Gothenborg, Sweden. https://frab.fscons.org/en/fscons14/public/events/177; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEP-dhiGKd0.

———. 2015a. “Peer Production of Open Hardware: Unfinished Artefacts and Architectures in the Hackerspaces.” PhD thesis, Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Internet Interdisciplinary Institute. https://research.metatron.ai/maxigas_dissertation.pdf.

———. 2015b. “Organising Flexible Working Spaces Through Techno-Social Networks: The Case of Door Systems in Hackerspaces.” UOC working paper series. http://journals.uoc.edu/index.php/in3-working-paper-series/article/view/2488.

———. 2016. “Luddite Aspects of Hackerdom: How to Build Time Machines to Alter the Course of History?” Blog entry. https://relay70.metatron.ai/luddite-aspects-of-hackerdom-how-to-build-time-machines-to-alter-thecourse-of-history/.

Söderberg, Johan, and Alessandro Delfanti. 2015. “Hacking Hacked! The Life Cycles of Digital Innovation.” Science, Technology and Human Values (July): 1–6. doi:10.1177/0162243915595091.

Thompson, E.P. 1967. “Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalism.” Past & Present 38 (1): 56–97.