Hackers have neither been hacked nor gentrified

So, you probably read the aeon piece on capitalism hacking hacker culture. From the top of my head a couple of things are awfully wrong. First, making money of somebody or of a culture in a capitalist society is not hacking but the way things are supposed to be. Hacking is about being able to understand things, use them in new ways, fix them when broken and finding solutions for problems. Capitalism is about making money. In a socialist state finding a way to make money might be considered hacking, in a capitalist one it’s just the way it is.

Second – I am no expert in gentrification but I’ve only ever encountered the word referring to buildings, city zoning and what shops you find on your high street. Gentrification doesn’t mean changing people but changing places. The people just get thrown out to live like before, somewhere else. The word we’re looking for might rather be appropriation of hacker culture. It fits the articles‘ analysis of making „exotic“ things and ideas more palatable for a broader audience.

This is where it get’s interesting. Because cultural appropriation works along power lines, with a dominant group appropriating the culture of a group with less power. Having little power is a trope intricately woven into nerd pride and here might be a place where we actually see this in action. The idea of hacking seems to be the seed of disruption, the buzzword du jour, along “disruption”.

But what if we look down the slope to those with even less power? On one hand, hackers have held high their principles of actions over gender, race, religion etc. On the other hand, few have acknowledged their own power when so many hackers are white, male, heterosexual etc. But instead try to ignore calls for better protection and recognition of access barriers to hacker culture. You probably know those buzzwords from fake geek girl to invader, too.

Yeah, at the Chaos Communication Camp are people from, for example, refugee groups, but I don’t get the feeling they’re considered hackers. Even though they build their own infrastructure and subvert a system that wants to isolate them. Thankfully, it didn’t feel like “we hackers know better than you” but also not like “yes, you’re hackers too”.

Last but not least, the irony lies rather in pitting “real resistance” of neighbourhoods, which are usually overthrown in the long run, with protecting hacker ethics. There actually are people doing that. But whom are they protecting hacker culture of?

PS: Connecting “immigrant” neighbourhoods to being the wild that gets tamed? Not cool. Even if you don’t like the taming, still not a cool connection.

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