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The hacker culture: Creatively overcoming limitations in programming

New Springer book shows how European hacker communities appropriated the computer and forged new cultures around it


Chopping games in Warsaw, hacking software in Athens, creating chaos in Hamburg, producing demos in Turku, and partying with computing in Zagreb and Amsterdam: The newly published Springer book Hacking Europe focuses on several European countries at the end of the Cold War and shows that the digital development was not an exclusively American affair. The collection of essays in this book demonstrates how local hacker communities appropriated the computer and forged new cultures around creating distinct "demoscenes."

Hacking Europe focuses on the playfulness that was at the heart of how European users appropriated microcomputers in the last quarter of the twentieth century. In several parts of Europe, hackers created a counterculture akin to the squatter movement that challenged individual ownership, demanded equal access, and celebrated shared use of the new technological potential. The German Chaos Computer Club best embodied the European version of the political fusion of the counterculture movement and the love of technology. The essays argue that users--whether the design of the projected use of computers was detailed or still unfinished--assigned their own meanings to the machines in unintended ways.

Each chapter of the essay collection explores the mediating actors instrumental in introducing and spreading the cultures of computing around Europe. More generally, the "ludological" element--the role of mischief, humor, and play--discussed here as crucial for analysis of hacker culture, opens new vistas for the study of the history of technology.

Hacking Europe is the outcome of a collaboration of two research projects: the Software for Europe and the European Ways of Life in the American Century. Both projects were part of the ESF-funded Eurocores program Inventing Europe: Technology and the Making of Europe, 1850-Present, which brought together a transatlantic community of scholars. This illuminating collection of diverse case studies will be of considerable interest to scholars in a range of disciplines, from computer science to the history of technology, and European-American studies.

Gerard Alberts teaches history of computing and mathematics at the University of Amsterdam. Ruth Oldenziel is a professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology and is a Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center, Munich in 2013-2014.

The book will be launched Friday, 5 December, at the 2014 Logan Symposium in London, where the authors will give a talk entitled "Academic History of Hacking Europe" (4pm-5pm GMT).


Gerard Alberts, Ruth Oldenziel
Hacking Europe
From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes
2014, VIII, 269 p. 22 illus.
Hardcover £ 76.50 | $ 109.00 | 84,99 € | 90,94 € (D) | 93,49 € (A) | CHF 113.50
ISBN 978-1-4471-5492-1
Also available as an eBook

Journalists can request a review copy of the book or an interview with the author.

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