The university as a hackerspace

Winn, Joss (2014) The university as a hackerspace. In: Friction: an interdisciplinary conference on technology & resistance, 08-09 May 2014, Nottingham.

The university as a hackerspace
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In a paper published last year, I argued for a different way of understanding the emergence of hacker culture. (Winn 2013) In doing so, I outlined an account of ‘the university’ as an institution that provided the material and subsequent intellectual conditions that early hackers were drawn to and in which they worked.

The key point I tried to make was that hacking was originally a form of academic labour that emerged out of the intensification and valorisation of scientific research within the institutional context of the university. The reproduction of hacking as a form of academic labour took place over many decades as academics and their institutions shifted from an ideal of unproductive, communal science to a more productive, entrepreneurial approach to the production of knowledge.
As such, I view hacking as a peculiar, historically situated form of labour that arose out of friction in the academy: vocation vs. profession; teaching vs. research; basic vs. applied research; research vs. development; private vs. public; war vs. peace; institutional autonomy vs. state dependence; scientific communalism vs. intellectual property; individualism vs. co-operation.

A question I have for you today is whether hacking in the university is still a possibility? Can a university contain (i.e. intellectually, politically, practically) a hackerspace? Can a university be a hackerspace? If so, what does it look like? How would it work? I am trying to work through these questions at the moment with colleagues at the University of Lincoln. The name I have given to this emerging project is ‘The university as a hackerspace’ and it has grown out of an existing pedagogical and political project called ‘Student as Producer.’ It is also one of four agreed areas of work in a new ‘digital education’ strategy at Lincoln.

More broadly, our project asks “how do we reproduce the university as a critical, social project?”

Keywords:hacking, university, digital education, Student as Producer, technology, teaching, learning, research, Bmjholiday
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
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ID Code:14125
Deposited On:25 May 2014 08:44

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