Accepted paper:

Whom do we fear? Between pop-cultural myth and hacking collectives - negotiations on the meaning of hack


Aleksandra Łuksza (Nicolaus Copernicus University, ul. Gagarina 11, 87-100 Torun, NIP: PL 879-017-72-9 )

Paper short abstract:

The pop-cultural construction of the hacker's image is influential and it shapes media discourses around hacking. In my paper I use ANT with other perspectives and case studies, to answer how is the term 'hacker' being negotiated, and how it affects the perception of IT security and moral economy.

Paper long abstract:

Questions about the IT - its security, risks, and moral economy - are often intertwined with the various notions about hackers. They are murky, to say the least. Problems emerge even during the simplest negotiations of the term 'hacking', since the definitions coined by the human actors - members of the hacker collectives - are opposite to the typical myth of a hacker, widespread in popular culture. The practice of defining hacking in the academic discourse is hardly consistent either. The pop-cultural construction of the hacker's image is so influential, that it shapes (and is amplified in turn) the mainstream media discourses around hacking. This leads to various situations, where the label of a 'hacker' is slapped at practices completely outside the realm of what hacker collectives believe to be the proper description of their actions. Constant negotiations between these actors have influence what is, and what is not, recognized as act of hacking.

In my paper I wish to talk at length about these discrepancies. I will use relevant anthropological, sociological and netnographic studies (works of Gabriella Coleman, Tim Jordan and others) along with the Actor-Network Theory perspective, which helps me analyze over two dozens audiovisual works and few important case studies. With this I am able to outline the main ways that the hacker is being constructed, explain how it affects the perception of IT security, and describe the intricacies of negotiating the labels of 'good' and 'evil' between various actors.

panel C24
Caring, negotiating and tinkering for IT in/security