Hacker Cultures


The European Association for the Study of Science and Technology held its annual conference in August, and a veritable feast of information it turned out to be (as is their website).

In particular though I would like to point readers towards a podcast series, based upon a panel held during the conference.

The podcast series is called Hacker Cultures. From the website:

This year, Covid-19 turned most conferences virtual, so to combat Zoom-fatigue, we decided to try another format and turn a conference session into a podcast. This series comes to you from the 2020 joint Society for Social Studies of Science/European Association for the Study of Science and Technology conference, titled “Locating and Timing Matters: Significance and agency of STS in emerging worlds” which took place from August 18th-21st. Among hundreds of panels, papers and sessions, the Hacker Cultures panel rounded up all sorts of researchers who study what it is to be a hacker, and what hacking, programming, tinkering and working with computers is all about. The hosts of this podcast are Paula Bialski, who is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Gallen, and Mace Ojala, a lecturer at the IT University of Copenhagen. On-site recording and production was done by Heights Beats at Hotmilk Records. The theme song is titled “Rocky” by Paula & Karol. Funding for the editing of this podcast comes from the University of St. Gallen.

The episodes are in the style of an interview rather than a lecture, easy to follow and really interesting.

What is on Offer?

Episode 1: Morgan G. Ames – Throwback Culture: The Role of Nostalgia in Hacker Worlds
Episode 2: Minna Saariketo & Mareike Gloss – In the grey zone of hacking? Two cases in the political economy of software and the Right to Repair
 Episode 3: Annika Richterich – Forget about the learning: On (digital) creativity and expertise in hacker-/makerspaces
 Episode 4: Alex Dean Cybulski – Hacker Culture Is Everything You Don’t Get Paid For In the Information Security Industry
 Episode 5: Jeremy Grosman – Algorithmic Objects, Algorithmic Practices
 Episode 6: Stephane Couture – Hacker Culture and Practices in the Development of Internet Protocols
 Episode 7: Ola Michalec – Hacking infrastructures: understanding capabilities of Operational Technology (OT) security workers
 Episode 8: Sylvain Besencon – Securing by hacking: maintenance regimes around an end-to-end encryption standard
 Episode 9: R. Stuart Geiger & Dorothy Howard – ‘I didn’t sign up for this’: The Invisible Work of Maintaining Free/Open-Source Software Communities

Really entertaining, informative and featuring lots of well known experts, 15 to 20 minutes each, well worth a browse.

The Past, 20/20 and FUTURE of ICT Standardisation 2 – 3 September 2020

The Future of ICT Standardization

If you are free this week, why not register for the Standards and Innovation in Information Technology Conference? The event is online, takes place on 2 and 3 September, and is free!

The conference is made up of six online panel discussions on important current topics, featuring lots of well-known experts. Issues addressed will include (but not be limited to) the role of ICT standardization in combatting Covid-19, the question of whether Standardization can help ensure fair competition with the tech giants, global trade and digital trade barriers, Big Data, AI and inclusivity.

This is a conference of the highest level, so it should be extremely informative and provide good debate.

Registration is available here.

Overview of the Panels and Presenters:The Role of ICT Standardisation in Combatting Covid-19

Time and Date: 2 September 2020, 15.30 – 16.30 CEST, 6.30am – 7.30am US PDT
Organiser: Jochen Friedrich, IBM, DE
Emilio Davila Gonzalez, European Commission, BE
Edgar Guillot, Orange (Chair, ETSI E4P project), FR
Jenny Wanger, Linux Foundation, US
Zhou Ping, CESI, CN
Experience panel:
Frank Karlitschek, NextCloud, DE
Alexandre Zapolsky, Linagora, FR

The Future of Intellectual Property and Standards — What Do the Data Tell Us?
Time and Date: 2 September 2020, 17.00 – 18.30 CEST, 8.00am – 9.30am US PDT
Organiser: Jorge Contreras, U. of Utah, US
Justus Baron, Northwestern U., US
Rudi Bekkers, TU Eindhoven, NL
Tim Pohlmann, IPlytics, DE
Tim Simcoe, Boston U., US
Tom Cotter, U. of Minnesota, US

Can API Standardisation Ensure Fair Competition with the Tech Giants?
Time and Date: 2 September 2020, 19.00 – 20.30 CEST, 10.00am – 11.30am US PDT.
Organiser: Ken Krechmer, Isology, US
Joe Decuir, University of Washington, US
Kalle Lyytinen, CWR U., US
David Reed, U. Colorado Boulder, US
Jill Van Matre Dupré, U. Colorado Boulder, US

Standards and Global Trade: TBT vs. Digital Trade Barriers?
Time and Date: 3 September 2020, 15.00 – 16.15 CEST 6.00am – 7.15am US PDT.
Organiser: Donggeun Choi, KSA, KR
Gloria Pasadilla, Leadership Design Studio Pte Ltd., SG
Joshua Paul Meltzer, Brookings Institution, USA
Heejin Lee, Yonsei U., KR
Devin McDaniels, WTO, CH

Big Data and AI Standards as Contributors to UN SDGs
Time and Date: 3 September 2020, 16.30 – 17.30 CEST, 7.30am – 8.30am US PDT (pending confirmation).
Organiser: Ray Walshe, DCU, IE
Ray Walshe – Dublin City University, IE
Paul Foran – Huawei Ireland Research Center, IE
Satyam Priyadarshy, Halliburton, US
Tomas Malik, UNECE, CH (tbc)

Re-designing Standardisation for Inclusivity
Time and Date: 3 September 2020, 18.00 – 19.30 CEST 9.00am – 10.30am US PDT.
Organiser: Carl Cargill, US
Wendy Seltzer, W3C, US
Linda Garcia, Georgetown U., US
Michael Spring, U. Pittsburgh, US

Part 10, The End of the Book Series

I hope you enjoyed the series and the book. My thanks and congratulations go to everyone who followed. I would be pleased to hear about your experiences through the comments section below.

In this final post I hope to draw the final message of the book together.

Aim of the Book and Series

As noted in the introduction to the book, its aim was to open a discussion that sees narration and aesthetics as central to daily decision-making practices in small scale production processes, be those artisanal working or scientific working situations.

The idea is that people working in such environments learn not only the technicalities of their work, but also co-construct the narrative through which decisions are made and possibilities are granted or excluded. This could be described as the narrative of doing things right, a concept that is constructed within the place of work through daily work talk. It is negotiated and fluid, refers to a shared understanding of a narrative framework and is recognized and codified through the appreciation of the values seen in the product. The narrative allows the framing of the decision-making process and the sharing of a language that allows thos working in the process to talk about it and share their appreciation.

In the case of craftwork, the shared understanding can be seen as expressed through an appreciation of the functional beauty of the work. Each object has its own functional beauty, defined by different criteria and affected by the amount of resources available, objectives and resources, meaning that the appreciation of beauty cannot be transferred from one to another without modification. No two processes are the same, as resources are different, meaning that the construction of their appreciation must also be different, even if the framework through which it is drawn in terms of the narrative is similar.

I call this a form of poiesis intensive production, this shared understanding of aesthetics is a driving force within the decision-making process, as its appreciation leads to the construction of networks of both colleagues and suppliers of materials, technology and tools, ideas and information, that are necessary for the production process.

To summarize; ideas of responsibility, narrative and the aim of the process may be related, I would say intertwined, and talked about in everyday chat at work.

Although in the science lab the language may be different, precision is discussed more than beauty, there are similarities in that precision is functional precision, as beauty is functional beauty. Functional precision relates to purpose and function. It is one facet of a functional goal, very much as beauty is for the upholsterer.

Overview of the Book

The book is divided into seven self-standing chapters, each representing a narrative from a particular perspective. It can be broadly seen as divided into two larger sections. The first section offers a representation of the current state of the art in RI research. Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 are all related to this construction, narrating the development of the concept of RI from different perspectives. The construction of this broader narrative (my own RI narrative) leads to the second section, based upon an argument (outlined above) that sees the sharing of a concept of functional beauty in terms of its position within a workplace narrative and its relevance to decision-making processes.

The second section is split into three chapters, the first offering an overview of methodology and argument, followed by two case studies. The first case study involves a furniture restorer in South Manchester (UK) and the second a surgeon developing 3D bio-printing techniques in Utrecht (NL).