The Hacker Revolution

Mentally preparing my participation in the Open Education 2006 Conference I tell my colleagues that open access content and free software are to be the vectors of the oncoming development globally, at all socioeconomic levels. Adding to this that I’m a scholar — being diffusion of knowledge one of my jobs — and that my research interests are the impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Development, the interaction among the digital paradigm, intellectual property rights management and knowledge diffusion is a must for me.

Actually, my reflection goes this way: the two biggest revolutions ever have been caused by the decline of a production system along with a rising but oppressed class:

  • The revolution of the bourgeoisie during last XVIII century and first part of XIX century, an oppressed class by the landowners in the framework of a declining system (agriculture) in front of a new system: capitalism
  • The socialist revolution during first half of XX century, being workers the oppressed class and Taylorism and liberalism the declining system in front of Socialism/Keynesianism [sorry for the rough simplification]

If it is evident that we’re entering a new era – the Information Society – and that capital is losing importance in front of information/knowledge as a production asset, how and when is the revolution to come? Who’s the oppressed class?

What is evident is that the first mottos – land for all, capital for all – have to be, necessarily, interpreted as:

  • content for all
  • software for all

Looking for a name to these thoughts, I called it “Hacker revolution”. A simple google search points me to McKenzie Wark and his “A Hacker Manifesto” (Harvard University Press) where he explains almost the same thing as me. His book dates from 2004, so I guess I’m not very original, but at least I don’t feel I’m out (completely) of my mind.

The quotation goes:

The thing about information is that it really does want to be free. It knows no “natural” scarcity. It can escape the commodity economy, at least in part. That’s where hacking — in every sense of the word — has a unique role to play. It’s creating the possibility that something — even if it is only information — can be freed from scarcity and hence from the commodity economy.


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2006) “The Hacker Revolution” In ICTlogy, #35, August 2006. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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5 Comments to “The Hacker Revolution” »

  1. Probably needless to say but you’re familiar with The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen? Maybe not the most accurate or even interesting book in your case but maybe worth glancing through.

    But Wark’s work sounds interesting!

  2. Hi Jussi,

    Yes, I’ve read Himanen’s The Hacker Ethic and I think it is a great book. Just right now I’m finishing The Cathedral & the Bazaar, by E.S. Raymond, and if you’re interested in hacker ethic, you can’t miss it!! ;)

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