lecture: Hacking collective as a laboratory

Hackers' knowledge studied by sociologist of science

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Talk presents findings from sociological investigation on hacking collectives. I will try to answer the question whether hacking collectives are laboratories, as seen by sociology of science. I will also show some peculiar traits of hacking collective, beneficial both for sciences and societies. Perhaps academia needs hackers more than it’s willing to admit?

Someone said: “Give me the laboratory and I will raise the world!” and sociologists of science are still easier found in laboratories than in libraries. Laboratories discover or co-create almost every part of modern lives: starting from material issues, through health, energy and computers.

First part of the talk will review some findings from studies of laboratories conducted by sociologists. We will see how certain elements of hacking ethos could be reprised in CERN or energy lab. I will also show some findings about well recognized effects in science, which are also valid in the open-source communities. Perhaps actual details of science resembles hacking more than hackers suspect?

Second part will focus on comparisons between knowledge about laboratories and results from my study of hacking communities. I will try to compare hacking and scientific roles of fact, error and humour. We will see how sociology uses term “black box” and how social history of sexual diseases might help us to untangle some discussions in IT security.

Third part wil briefly focus on the possible futures of formal laboratories, hacking collectives and other social institutions. I will discuss how ethical stances on hacking knowledge might rescue academic knowledge from itself.I will show how hacking collectives fit into some frameworks shaping near future of science. How hackers are necessary in coming data revolution? Why do we need instabilities?