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Programmers, Hackers and Hacks: the people and practices behind our machines
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Programmers, Hackers and Hacks: the people and practices behind our machines

Author: Paula Bialski

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This is a podcast series that will hopefully help you learn about the role of hackers, computer programmers, data scientists all all sorts of nerds and magicians who help build our digital societies today. I am your host Paula Bialski, and I am Associate Professor for Digital Sociology at the University of St. Gallen and an affiliate researcher at the Centre for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University in Luneburg Germany. I am ethnographer of digital cultures, which just means that I like befriending all sorts of technically-savvy nerds, which I’ve done in my research stints in the past. This podcast was originally created for my Contextual Studies course at St. Gallen University in April 2020. A lot what I will be talking to you throughout this podcast lecture will come from my own two year research project where I hung out among corporate programmers in Berlin who made mapping and navigation software. This podcast is written and read by Paula Bialski. Production, sound editing, and sound design was done by Heights Beats. Thank you in particular to Chris Kelty and Biella Coleman and our endeavour at hackcur.io for inspiring this podcast, as well as the Leuphana University Luneburg and the University of St. Gallen.
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Mace Ojala is a part-time lecturer at the IT University in Copenhagen and teaches tech-y courses around computing and networked infrastructures. I called him up to get him talking about computer maintenance, a topic that is largely forgotten. Mace's reading list for this episode: Jérôme Denis, David Pontille. Why do maintenance and repair matter?. Anders Blok, Ignacio Farías & Celia Roberts (eds.). The Routledge Companion to Actor-Network Theory, p. 283-293, 2019, 978-1-138-08472-8.Marisa Leavitt Cohn: Convivial Decay: Entangled Lifetimes in a Geriatric Infrastructure. CSCW '16: Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing. February 2016 Pages 1511–1523 https://doi.org/10.1145/2818048.2820077Steven Jackson. In Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo Boczkowski, Kirsten Foot  (eds.). Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. 2014. MIT Press.Shannon Mattern. 2018. Maintenance and Care. Places Journal. https://placesjournal.org/article/maintenance-and-care/leejo. 2016. All software is legacy. Blogpost online at https://leejo.github.io/2016/02/22/all_software_is_legacy/ Lara Houston, Daniela Rosner, Steven Jackson, Jamie Allen (eds.). 2017. The whole issue :). continent. Issue 6 "Maintenance" http://continentcontinent.cc/index.php/continent/issue/view/27Chris Bowlby et al. "Maintenance". BBC Analysis. Podcast. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0005mr 
In this episode, I will talk about inequalities, and in particular the regional inequalities that exist within a software production.References for this episode: 1. https://hackcur.io/category/inclusions-exclusions/
In this episode, I will explain how software development inherently runs on a culture of preventing and predicting stuff from going wrong. The reasons for this are the various forms of heterogeneity making up the sociotechnical system that is software.References for this episode: 1.  https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2019
In this episode I want to talk to you guys about how developers work together - and the way in which intimacy and creativity is  a direct characteristic of the practice of programming or building software. References for this episode: 1. Graham, Paul. Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age.  Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media, 2004.
In this episode, I want to address the elephant in the room - and talk about “the hack” or specifically what hacking is as a practice. It would be easiest to do this I think by looking through the lens of the typical ‘hacker’ - like the hackers you guys are imagining do hacking - and talk about the security hacker. References for this episode: 1. https://hackcur.io/category/anti-security/
This episode is now meant to really give you guys a look at the other research out there that study hackers and programmers - so I’ll briefly give you a background of where to really search once you want to write or learn more about this topic. References for this episode: 1. Lupton, Deborah. Digital Sociology. Routledge, 2014.2. Kelty, Christopher M. Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Duke University Press, 2008.3. Coleman, Gabriella. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. Verso Books, 2014.4. Ensmenger, Nathan L. The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise. Mit Press, 2012.5. Mackenzie, Adrian. Cutting Code: Software and Sociality.  Vol. 30: Peter Lang, 2006.
    In this episode, I want to give you a bit of a contextual history of around the culture of hacking and programming - by introducing to you the significance of a place called the Silicon Valley.References for this episode: 1. Ballmer going crazy on stage: https://hackcur.io/dealing-with-mini-steve-ballmers-at-work/2. Zuck and friend showing off their VR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-MkduVh0wM&t=196s3. Morozov, Evgeny. 2013. To save everything, click here: The folly of technological solutionism. Public Affairs. 
Who am I? And why am I telling you guys about hackers and programmers? In this episode, I will tell you guys about where I’m coming from as a researcher and how I got so concerned with the digital societies we live in. There aren't any readings to go along with this episode, but if you haven't so far, do browse through https://hackcur.io/ 
One of the centres of power in our societies lies in the hands of the hackers and programmers building and running the foundations we stand on. In this first episode, I will talk about the many faces of the hacker and why our reliance on them makes it increasingly important to learn about them.References for this episode: Magee, L., & Rossiter, N. (2015). Service Orientations. Data, Institutions, Labor., in Kaldrack, I., & Leeker, M. There is no Software, there are just Services. Luneburg, meson press. see: https://meson.press/books/there-is-no-software-there-are-just-services/Latour, B., (1999). Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 
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