Accepted paper:

Energy hacking: self-possessing the future of energy

Authors:

Dorien Zandbergen (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the practices and ideologies of energy self-subsistence as now vibrantly explored by global techno-elites. How is such "energy-hacking" influencing the shifting institutional domains of energy-production and consumption in the future?

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the practices and ideologies of "energy-hacking". The term "hacking" is generally used to refer to people who are virtuose with information technology. Yet, as shaped in the course of the past few decades by global networks of techno-elites, the notion has come to encompass all modes of activity and thought that demand radical access to sources deemed meaningful for self-possessed living in post-industrial societies. These sources may be informatic, but also concern food and energy. Energy-hacking then, refers to the ideal and the set of practices that are oriented towards energy self-subsistence. "Energy", just like "information", is hereby considered to be a resource that in its very nature resists corporatization. Energy-hacking, in this regard, is a form of ethical behavior, seeking to reappropriate energy from corporate and governmental involvement and giving it "back" to individuals. This paper looks at the practices of energy-hacking as it is unfolding in sensor-connected online networks, at geek-conferences and at "fablabs" all over the world. Such practices include the building of solar-paneled vehicles, the growing of energy-producing micro-biological environments, and the use of potatoes to fuel electronic clocks. This paper seeks to understand how such practices of energy-hacking may influence the shifting institutional domains of energy-production and consumption in the future. Can we learn something in this regard from the relationship that computer hackers now appear to have to the larger "information society"?

back to panel W050
Uncertain futures: the cultural dynamics of energy transition