'Do not hack'. Rules, values, and communal practices in hacker- and makerspaces

Annika Richterich


This paper explores which rules, norms, and values are relevant to contemporary practices of hacking. It examines how civic developers in _hackerspaces_ conceptualise their use of digital technology, with particular regards to Internet technologies and related hard- and software. Based on qualitative interviews with hackerspace members in the United Kingdom, it shows which (social) values and (legal) rules guide their practices, and analyses the implications for their interaction with digital technology. Hackerspaces (also called hackspaces) are physical locations where community members meet in order to engage in and discuss activities such as programming and hardware building. While the public perception of hacking as illegal activity is still common, hackerspace members understand and pursue hacking mainly as creative interaction with digital technology. In order to contextualise my research, I will first provide an overview of the different understandings of hackings. Secondly, I will highlight the relevance of ethics for hacking practices and how they relate to legal rules regarding digital technology. In doing so, this paper contributes to the discussion of the multiple meanings of hacking and its ethics. By investigating the rules, norms, and values relevant to hackerspace members, I aim at contributing to a better understanding of normative principles for interaction with Internet technologies and digital technology more generally.


Hacking, hackerspaces, qualitative interviews, ethics

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