An ACTLab New Media course: Extreme freestyle hacking!>
"A massive consensual hallucination. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light, receding..." Okay, you get the point. Anyway, welcome to our class web pages. There's nothing here yet, but as fast as we can get stuff up, it'll be available. Watch for a podcast of the mythical first class meeting, a reading list, discussion topics, useful resources, and more...

The mailing list is up and running. You should have received a notice of subscription. If you know someone who should be on the list but isn't, please tell them to contact Sandy at 695-6732 after 1 p.m.

We're working on ways to deal with the wait list, so if you intend to drop the course before our first meeting, please be sure to let us know so that folks who are waiting and hoping to get in will know whether they made it.

Here's the READING ASSIGNMENT for Monday, September 8:

Chapters 1 and 2 of Hackers, by Steven Levy.

It's downloadable. Click here. There will eventually be a link to the file from the Resources page. There is no Resources page as of today, so don't bother looking for it.

There may be an additional reading, if Jenn's Copy, at 26th and Guadalupe, can have it ready in time. Watch this space for updates.

Come to class prepared to discuss the reading(s).

COMING, next week...Resources and Links.

Hacking can refer to radical computer programming, but it's also a term with a wider reach. In political art it's called detournement ("the theft of aesthetic artifacts from their contexts and their diversion into contexts of one's own devise" (Greil Marcus)); in music and video it's mashup, remix, fantasia, or variations; in sound, circuit bending; in amateur radio and telephony, phreaking. Then there's gene hacking (Eduardo Kac's bunnies that glow in the dark) and culture hacking or bricolage (the refunctioning, by societal "outsiders", of symbols associated with the dominant culture, as in the appropriation of corporate attire and Vogue model poses by poor, gay, and largely nonwhite drag queens" (Mark Dery)). All of these are ways to describe modifying something to make it do things it wasn't meant to do.

For our purposes, a hacker is "an inventive type, someone creative and unconventional, a person who sees doors where others see walls or builds bridges that others thought were planks on which to walk into shark-filled seas. Hackers are alive with the spirit of Loki or Coyote or the Trickster, moving with stealth across boundaries, often spurning conventional ways of thinking and behaving. Hackers see deeply into the arbitrariness of structures, how form and content are assembled in subjective and often random ways and therefore how they can be defeated or subverted. They see atoms where others see a seeming solid, and they know that atoms are approximations of energies, abstractions, mathematical constructions. At the top level, they see the skull behind the grin, the unspoken or unacknowledged but shared assumptions of a fallible humanity." (From "Hacker Generations", by Richard Thieme.)

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