27 November 2006

A Manifest Hacker

The Hacker Class. In A Hacker Manifesto, McKenzie Wark writes “Hackers are a class, but an abstract class. A class that makes abstractions, and a class made abstract. To abstract hackers as a class is to abstract the very concept of class itself. The slogan of the hacker class is not the workers of the world united, but the workings of the world untied.” Discuss.


Ken Wark:

- full (and presumably tenured) professor of ever-so-trendy cultural
and media studies at the ever-so-cool New School[1] in Manhattan;
- whose ‘Personal Profile’ on his faculty page is simply: “The
philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”
--- hey, neat quote from Marx, Ken, and totally cool for not mentioning him;
after all, those who know, know, right?

- whose faculty page provides no information on his courses, no course descriptions, no syllabi, no readings, no links -- nada, niente, nichts;
--- awesome Ken. That’ll convince the vectoralist ruling class that you know too much to just put it out there for them to glom on to;
- whose webpage clues us in that A Hacker Manifesto has been gushingly reviewed by such rigorous and acclaimed periodicals as the Village Voice (“very practical applications”) and the Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald (“remarkably original and passionate….indispensable reading” -- or ‘local boy makes good in Big Apple’);
- champion of his own ill-defined hacker class, of which he defines himself a member [003] -- though Terry Eagleton, long a leading Marxist cultural critic, says Wark’s contention that hackers constitute a class of “creative innovators is absurdly overgeneralized”;
- courageous, fearless proponent of freely shared intellectual property -- whose book is published with full customary copyright protection, and which, two years after release, is only available in hardback from the press of the wealthiest university in the world.
-- Good on ya, Ken. We knew you were one of us.
-- And, oh Ken? when was it you were taking us to the pub on your royalties cheque?


And as to the opening quote [006], Ken, I’ll paraphrase Bertrand Russell’s paradox:
A class is not a member of itself.


As you say -- so profoundly, -- Ken, “To hack is to differ.” [003]

I differ.


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[1]
Unconscious self-parody is always so delightful. From the New School’s Lang College website:

Lang College Ranked Number 1 in Several Categories of The Princeton Review
11 October 2006

Every year The Princeton Review publishes The Best 361 Colleges: The
Smart Student’s Guide to Colleges, which includes the top 20 schools ranked in descending order in 62 different categories. These ranking
are determined by student surveys done at each school by The Princeton Review. The extensive survey, which includes more than 60 questions, is divided into four sections — “About Yourself,” “Your School’s Academics/Administration,” “Students,” and “Life at Your School.” In this year’s 2007 edition, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts placed prominently in many categories.

Citations included:
• Number 1 — Class Discussions Encouraged, Great College Towns
• Number 2 — Gay Community Accepted, Long Lines and Red Tape, Intercollegiate Sports Unpopular or
Nonexistent, Dodge Ball Targets

• Number 3 — Nobody Plays Intramural Sports
• Number 4 — Most Politically Active
• Number 6 — Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis
• Number 9 — Town-Gown Relations Are Great
• Number 10 — Lots of Race/Class Interaction, Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking
Vegetarians

• Number 16 — Students Most Nostalgic for Bill Clinton

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