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Subjects of DIY hacktivism, forms of decentralization, autonomous network, infrastructure and protocol are of both contemporary and historical concern. Since the 1960s, the narrative of technological development is marked by antagonistic visions of technocratic elitism and technology for social and political autonomy.
In the present tense, my research responds to pervasive phenomenons and realities of techno- hegemony, such as forms of centralization, censorship and surveillance. Decentralizing practices and DIY hacktivism offer demystifying and empowering potentials to weave counter narratives against techno-hegemonic realities. The counter narrative also constructs interpretive tools to comprehend technology. Today's society at large present a rift between technological advancement and civic understanding of technology, due to technical thresholds, barriers created by intellectual property rights, and decreased knowledge mobility working in hyper-specialized divisions of labor. DIY hacktivism and decentralizing practices offer porosity, transparency and flexibility unavailable within centralized organizations.
The making and hacking of of distributed, peer to peer infrastructure, networks and protocols construct the counter narrative towards centralization, by promising porosity, transparency and flexibility unavailable in centralized systems. Very often, decentralizing practices are associated with F/LOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) tools and its tenets. The hacking process often call for transparency in making, such as making public and accessible the materials and technical procedures. These information are written within the framework of technical texts such as tutorials, user manuals, and bug reports. Such texts may appear to be instructive, technical, universal and decontextualized by nature. However, critical interpretation towards instructive texts can activate them as public sites to interface with technology, interject discourses and instigate collective making. In my research, the writing of technical and instructive texts is taken as a lens to probe into larger processes of maker culture, hacktivism and decentralizing practices. By examining the writing of technical and instructive texts in both contemporary practices and media archaeology, I aim to address the importance of making acknowledging privileges, making visible barriers of access, and diversifying understanding of hacktivism, maker culture and decentralizing practices by inviting richer contexts.
Excavating the formation of modern networking. History of networking unravel networking's social, cultural and political implications. An illustrative example is the development of ARPANET in context of Cold War politics, as opposed to distributive networking protocols such as Usenet. During this time, civic dissents towards authoritative abuse of technology arose. Interpretive tools aiming to achieve social and political autonomy were made available, such as the Whole World Catalog, Computer Lib and Homebrew Computer Club. Historical investigation aim to answer: how did the notions of centralization and decentralization in into being? How may historical reading of cyberculture and counterculture inform contemporary hacker culture?
Examination of contemporary manifestation of centralization and decentralization. To speak about centralization or decentralization is to describe an organizational structure. The materiality of what's being centralized/decentralized is both tangible and intangible, ranging from information, infrastructure, media, knowledge, and services. Within distributed protocols, users are simultaneously producers, circumventing the client-server relationship, preserving rights to tinker within the system. How does the distributed web amplify its participatory aspects, create safe space, and foster diverse social discourses?
Interpretation of textual mediums used in decentralizing practices in context of experimental publishing. The distributed web space is facilitated by textual mediums of various nature, such as codes of conducts, development logs, bug reports, tutorials and user manuals. Such texts may appear to be instructive, technical, universal and decontextualized by nature. However, critical interpretation towards instructive texts can activate them as public sites to interface with technology, interject discourses and instigate collective making. Does technical texts imply privileges and barrier of access? How can the writing of technical text be used as a tool to emphasize contextualized, individualized understanding towards technology?
“Hacking with Chinese Characteristics” is a term coined by researcher Silvia Lindtner, to refer to rising maker movements in China. China's maker movement situates within the country's cultural and social fabric, generating unique ways of making that differ from quintessential Western maker culture originated from the Silicon Valley. With sustaining involvement from government and industry promoting political and economic agendas, does maker movement in China create critical, autonomous fabrics of making, or create hacktivism that become appropriated by and feed back to techno-hegemonies?