E. Gabriella Coleman – Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking


Princeton University Press, ISBN: 978-0691144610, 264 pages, 2012, English
The whole ecosystem of hacking and FLOSS has rarely been considered by academic research, despite often being recognized as a terrific collective production. It has been considered more as a “tool” and not recognized as an important abstract “laboratory” of labour and freedom. Coleman focuses on hacker communitiesand what they mean and prove to the rest of society. The book develops along different paths, looking at hacker identities, gatherings, models and politics. There is, in fact, an attempt to describe a “typical” hacker, investigated through seventy different interviews conduced live or via email. Coleman (defined by Cory Doctorow as a “geek anthropologist”) also functions as a hacker ethnographer, attending a number of Debian GNU/Linux conferences (“Debconfs”) and describing Debian’s internal organization and its strict management of skill together with essential ethical commitments. One of the most interesting parts is the analysis of FLOSS sustainable economic models and the permeation of radical values through production. Hacker communities are also characterized by the trust and the cleverness of their members, and the shared believe that they will impact society by “acting” and serving as examples. The common trait the author identifies as binding hackers from disparate backgrounds is the achievement of “productive freedom”. The work also looks at the hacker belief that the claim “code is speech” deserves to become a crucial paradigm around which to structure a seminal part of our society.