Hacktivism and the Humanities: Programming Protest in the Era of the Digital University

  1. 1. Elizabeth Losh

    University of California, Irvine

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

Despite the dismay of university administrators, who
are often hesitant to recognize computer programming
as a form of campus free speech, students continue
to deploy code to further activist agendas Yet media
reports about hacktivist activities by undergraduates
and graduate students rarely place these computer-coded
expressions of protest in the context of other kinds
of campus activism or critical engagement. Whether
the student is generating electronic boarding passes to
protest Homeland Security policies or data mining for
self-interested Wikipedia edits by corporations and politicians,
the attention goes to the programmer’s identity
as a hacker rather than as a student. Although Siva Vaidhyanathan
and others have issued a manifesto to promulgate
“critical information studies” as an interdisciplinary
field of study that could serve as the logical successor to
the areas of academic inquiry that arose from the protests
of the nineteen-sixties and seventies, which is “needed to
make sense of important phenomena such as copyright
policy, electronic voting, encryption, the state of libraries,
the preservation of ancient cultural traditions, and
markets for cultural production,” advocacy for these issues
in the university setting does not achieve the kind of
visibility that was associated with previous movements
that assembled crowds of individuals for face-to-face
interactions in physical public space to achieve an end
to the Vietnam War, milestones on civil rights issues,
affirmative action, or divestment in South Africa. This
presentation builds upon the models of critical information,
critical code, and software studies to examine the
analytical frameworks that might reinvigorate the program
of the political explication of coding spaces.

Conference Info


ADHO - 2009

Hosted at University of Maryland, College Park

College Park, Maryland, United States

June 20, 2009 - June 25, 2009

176 works by 303 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (4)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None