Special Issue of New Media & Society on the Democratization of Hacking & Making

Call For Papers:
Special Issue of New Media & Society on the Democratization of Hacking & Making

Research on hacker culture has historically focused on a relatively narrow set of activities and practices related to open-source software, political protest, and criminality. Scholarship on making has generally been defined as hands-on work with a connection to craft. By contrast, “hacking” and “making” in the current day are increasingly inroads to a more diverse range of activities, industries, and groups. They may show a strong cultural allegiance or map new interpretations and trajectories.

These developments prompt us to revisit central questions: does the use of hacking/making terminologies carry with them particular valences? Are they deeply rooted in technologies, ideologies or cultures? Are they best examined through certain intellectual traditions? Can they be empowering to participants, or are they merely buzzwords that have been diluted and co-opted by governmental and business entities? What barriers to entry and participation exist?

The current issue explores and questions the growing diversity of uses stemming from this turn of hacking towards more popular uses and democratic contexts. Submissions that employ novel methodological and theoretical perspectives to understand this turn in hacking are encouraged. They should explore new opportunities for conversations and consider hacking as rooted in a specific phenomena, culture, environment, practice or movement. Criteria for admission in this special issue include rigor of analysis, caliber of interpretation, and relevance of conclusions.

Topics may include:
– Disparities of access and representation, such as gender, race and ethnicity
– Open-access environments for learning and production, such as hacker and maker spaces
– “Civic hacking” and open data movements on city, state and national levels
– Integration of hacking and making within industries
– Historical analyses of making/hacking such as phreaking and amateur computing
– Popularization of terms like “hacker” in newspapers, magazines and other publications
– Open-source hardware and software movements
– Appropriation of technology
– Hacking in non-western contexts, such as the global south and China
– Political implications of a popular shift in hacker/maker culture

Please email 400 word abstract proposals, along with a short author biography, by May 1, 2014 to aschrock@usc.edu and jhunsinger@wlu.ca. Final selected articles will be due during September 2014 and will undergo peer review.