Hacking: The performance of technology? [Book Review]

Techne 9 (2):151-154 (2005)
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The word “hacker” has an interesting double meaning: one vastly more widespread connotation of technological mischief, even criminality, and an original meaning amongst the tech savvy as a term of highest approbation. Both meanings, however, share the idea that hackers possess a superior ability to manipulate technology according to their will (and, as with God, this superior ability to exercise will is a source of both mystifying admiration and fear). This book mainly concerns itself with the former meaning. To Thomas this simultaneously mystified and vilified, elusive set of individuals exemplifies “the performance of technology” xx), showing the way in which “the cultural, social and political history of the computer...is fraught with complexity and contradictions” ix). In fact, he claims that hacking is more a cultural than technological phenomenon, citing Heidegger’s, “[t]he essence of technology is not anything technological” (56).
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