Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking Paperback – Nov 19 2012
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One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013
"Coding Freedom is insightful and fascinating, a superbly observed picture of the motives, divisions and history of the free software and software freedom world."--Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
"Anyone who thinks about programmers, open source, online communities, or the politics of intellectual property should have a copy of Coding Freedom on the shelf. It is an invaluable portrait of how free-software coders work, individually and collectively."--James Grimmelmann, Jotwell
"The hacker ethic may be peculiar to outsiders. But it stems from a deep commitment to justice, fairness, and freedom. Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman describes in her phenomenal book Coding Freedom how hacker ethic gets encoded into both technical and political practice."--Danah Boyd, Wired
"Though occasionally she uses academic jargon, her book is an intriguing read and connects the dots. . . . Reading this book will help you to understand the conflict, as well as hacker culture."--David Hutchinson, io9.com
"[S]triking and important. . . . Coleman has captured a great deal of the essential spirit of the free- and open-software movement. . . . I strongly suggest that you buy a copy of the book."--John Gilbey, Times Higher Education
"[I]t is well-written and the analyses really get to the heart of some deeply ethical questions about individual, group and political relationships in voluntary groups which are rarely considered in such detail."--John R. Hudson, Briefing Bradford
"This work by Coleman is at once history, ethnography, cultural criticism, and storytelling. . . . Once can read the book as a narrative of the free software and open source movements, or as a sympathetic description of the behavior norms of hackers. . . . Some readers will likely not consider hackers' aesthetic appreciation of good or clever coding as beauty, nor hackers' humor as funny, but these are Coleman's courageous attempts to provide a rounded depiction of this subculture. This book seems likely to be one of the defining works of cultural anthropology."--Choice
"Coding Freedom is a persuasive piece of writing that tackles some of the questions central to the current political climate."--Sebastian Kubitschko, Culture Machine
"Coding Freedom is an important analysis of F/OSS that offers deep ethnographic detail and creates a complex appreciation of this phenomenon. Coleman is also able to take this rich detail and extend it into the ethics and politics of F/OSS, connecting internal community principles to wider political effects, of which she provides a unique analysis. This book is compulsory reading for anyone interested in the cultural and social meaning of F/OSS and will powerfully repay anyone interested in the nature of ethics and society in the 21st century."--Tim Jordan, American Journal of Sociology
From the Back Cover
"Coleman knows, understands, and lives free culture. No one is more credible or more fascinating when describing the lives of the women and men whose mission is an open, free information age."--Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and coauthor of The Rapture of the Nerds
"Coleman's book is definitive--everything in it is lovingly detailed, exhaustively researched, fluently written, and packed with provocative insights. A monument of scholarship, it combines the best of anthropology with an unconventional and fresh approach to law, political theory, and ethics. From the conference-going world of software programmers to the humor and pleasures of code-fu, and from the phantasms of free speech to the passion and pathos of technical committees, Coleman is an extraordinary guide to the world of contemporary hacking."--Christopher Kelty, University of California, Los Angeles
"Coleman's book on free and open source software programmers and hackers is desperately needed and will be a significant, landmark contribution to our understanding of the current technologically mediated moment. Coleman mixes case studies with learned treatments of this community, changes in the legal environment, and other relevant dimensions."--Thomas M. Malaby, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
"This is a revelatory ethnographic look at the origins and evolution of the free and open source software subculture. Coleman provides entirely new insights into the humor, aesthetics, and social life of hackers, while exploring the philosophical implications of open source for ideas about personal freedom, labor, and markets. Coding Freedom is an essential study of the technological revolution of our times."--Joseph Masco, University of Chicago
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Top Customer Reviews
I consider myself part of this community (or at least believe it :) for many years and reading the first chapters was like reliving my whole life from 13 to 21. The portrait of open source activists and hackers is staggering with details that simply fits my life even though I was NEVER interviewed by the author.
This is truly a serious and well documented piece of work and I recommend to everyone wanting to understand what this community is all about, how it came to life and what is it fighting for today. Understanding this world open your eyes to a whole new set of possibilities. :)
Thanks Gabriella for this!
1. Glamourize hacker culture, with the implicit support of hackers who want to see themselves as heroes.
2. Take a strain of political activism, which is frequently youthful and free of maturity/nuance, and turn it into a "world-changing force."
3. Wrap it all in pseudo-academic jargon suitable for a Philosophy undergraduate,
4. Sell it as academic material to the ruling class.
And that's how you mill an youthful, well-meaning, sometimes misguided political movement into pretentious yarn for old white academics.
I can't believe I once liked this book. This is pure fraud.
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It is difficult for me to top the reviews of others -- including
the review from Simon who is a friend, colleague and important voice in FLOSS.
I was initially drawn to understand the legal underpinnings
of Free Software because I was struck how essential it is
to have the "freedom to be creative". Typically artists, say painters,
are not given tools of their craft with odd restrictions like
1) paint anything you like, but you cannot use colors in combination
without asking permission first and 2) you may not be inspired
by the masters who have come before you.
That our digital era involves "copying" for any use has led to
a bonanza for the "content development industries". Lessig has
covered the price we pay as a culture for this unintended consequence.
Coleman gives perspective on Lessig's influence in the large -- a perspective
which is desperately needed today.
Artists of the keyboard (hackers) have had to become aware of
the law and specifically how copyright works to understand
how "open source" enables creativity.
The trajectory of technology is pointing clearly to software
in a starring role. And thus fully understanding the power
and risks of software for creativity, privacy, security and free speech
is not optional. Coding Freedom offers a lexicon to discuss
and work together for the kind of technology we want in our society.
One really cool part of the book is it gets in to the relationship between hacker culture and politics. Why do hackers become political and around which issues.
Hear interview with author Biella Coleman here: [...]
In the past 2 years, we've discussed in many interviews and updates, the attacks on whistle-blowers and hackers. The emerging movement of programmers, hackers, open source software, online communities has challenged and exposed corporate and government control and surveillance, making them targets of prosecution. Today we talk with author Gabriella Coleman about her recently published book Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. It's a good place to start for those learning about the political significance of free software, intellectual property and the morality of computer hacking.
■When you utter the word hacker, usually the image that pops into people's minds is nefarious criminal. That can be the case but really hackers are composed of an extremely lively group of individuals who tend to be computer programmers and network administrators, who actually are committed to a range of civil liberties such as free speech and privacy. Especially in the last decade they've been involved in political activities as well.
■They're quite a bit of diversity among hackers, technically.
■Hackers - are keenly aware of the issues such as censorship, which impact the present and the future of the internet. Some hackers are committed to insuring internet freedoms for their own productive autonomy.
■Beyond productive autonomy they're really starting to care about the broader issues relating to internet freedoms and how they relate to democracy at large.
■In order for software to be made, it must be written in a programming language such as C++, Python and Pearl and its written in source code. These are the underlying directions of software.
■A very prominent group of hackers who are committed to always having access to source code have actually reinvented the law to make sure that that source code is eternally available. They're very much against copyrights and patents and have created something called a copyleft to make sure the source code that powers software is always accessible to them.
■Proprietary software such as the Microsoft Operating System is behind lock and key. We don't have access to the underlying directions.
■There's a contingent within the hacker world who believe that access is not only good for the sake of improving technology but is the morally right thing to do.
■That its a collaborative process, that everyone should have access to it. There are other hackers that are a little less concerned about the ethics of access and they're more concerned about the pragmatics.
■I originally thought that these free software developers who were part of these large projects such as Debion, were raging Leftists. The project itself had collected people from all political orientations.
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