040. Hacking everything. The Cultures and politics of Hackers and Software Workers (a podcast series)

Whether it's geopolitical or security hacking, big-tech’s software workers leaking the injustices of their companies, or cryptocurrency geeks gaming the financial markets - people who work with our software and computers, harvest our data, or hack into our systems, are gaining political and cultural significance. This podcast panel invites all researchers who study what it is to be a hacker, computer engineer, or work with computers, software, or digital platforms, and/or what it means to hack technical, individual, state, or corporate powers. As we frame this EASST conference around the politics of technoscientific futures, this panel brings to the fore research around the actors shaping, building, maintaining, hacking, programming, processing, or managing the regimes of data collection, knowledge, and control, within the computing systems we use today. Inspired by research around hacker cultures, such as Chris Kelty’s work among free software communities, Biella Coleman’s work on the Debian communities (2012) and the politically-motivated hacker collective Anonymous (2014), or Stuart Geiger's embedded ethnography in Wikipedia (2017 with Halfaker) - this panel shines a light on the people who build our opaque and oftentimes contentious technical worlds. By using other modes of knowledge production, we wish to challenge the role of the STS scholar in describing the powers and agencies, and the practices and struggles of hacker or software cultures - a challenge that, in our increasingly complex, commodified technical worlds might never be fulfilled. As an “alternative format” this panel brings its panellists in conversation with the panel organizers in the form of a podcast series. Instead of traditional PowerPoint presentations, panellists will present their research in the form of a 15–20-minute podcast programme - through dialogue with the panel organizers. While panellists will be given the usual time to speak and present their work, the podcast format as an informed conversation is aimed to create another form of engagement with research, pushing academics to discuss their work with a wider audience. With the panellist’s consent, this podcast will also be published and made available after the conference is over.

Date: 7th July 2022
Hour: 9:00 – 12:30
Location: Rooms N110 & 105


Information about the convenors:

Paula Bialski

Paula Bialski is an Associate Professor for Digital Sociology at the University of St. Gallen. She is an ethnographer of digital technologies, looking at contexts of usage as well as production, and she frames her research within cultural, social and media theory in general, and STS in particular. She is currently finishing a book project that looks at mediocrity and slowness of corporate software work and its relationship to our digital infrastructures. Beyond academic work, she loves podcasting and making albums with her band Paula & Karol


Andreas Bischof

Andreas Bischof is the head of a Research Group at Chemnitz University of Technology and principal investigator in three more research projects, one of which is focusing on alternative applications for healthcare robotics. He has a background in sociology, media communication and cultural anthropology, and studies how humans, society and technology interact with each other. He has also taught courses on podcasting and worked in the German indie music industry for years. 


Mace Ojala

Mace Ojala is an STS scholar, media theorist and an absolute podcast fiend. When not riding the bicycle, sculpting otherworldly soundscapes with synthesizers, or researching software as culture, Mace teaches data visualization, programming and STS topics at IT University of Copenhagen and works as a labrat at the feminist ETHOS Lab there.