Earlier this year, the death of internet activist Aaron Swartz drew attention to a world often hidden from public view: the world of computer programmers and activists fighting to keep the internet free, uncensored, and safe to use. As more and more of our everyday activities occur online—from socializing to banking to political organizing—questions about who owns and controls online spaces are becoming increasingly central issues. Still, few of us actively think about these concerns when we open our browsers and update our facebook statuses. In Gabriella Coleman’s new book, Coding Freedom: the Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, we are introduced to the world of activists who are working on behalf of the rest of us, internet activists and hackers who actively question the rules of the online game. For our July essay dialogue, contributors were asked to respond to Coleman’s book and the fascinating questions it raises: Are hackers a danger to society, as they are often framed, or are they indeed activists—even freedom fighters—in an increasingly internet-focused world? What does it mean to be an “activist” when one rarely sees or interacts with fellow activists in person? In an age when information has become a major form of currency, is hacking the next line of defense in fighting for freedom and rights of access for marginalized groups? Many thanks to contributing editor, Jen Schradie, for her guidance in planning this dialogue and to our distinguished contributors.
Round 1 Contributors:
Jo Bates, University of Sheffield (essay)
Denisa Kera, National University of Singapore (essay)
Brett Lunceford, Independent Researcher (essay)
Jorge Luis Zapico, KTH The Royal Institute of Technology (essay)
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Dan Myers