Exploring “Hacking,” Digital Public Art, and Implication for Contemporary Governance

Exploring “Hacking,” Digital Public Art, and Implication for Contemporary Governance

Amadu Wurie Khan (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Chris Speed (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch580
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Conceptual Background: The “Hacking” Folklore

In tracing the etymology of ‘hacking’, folklore rather than the history of the concept should be prioritised. This is because there are many narratives to explain the emergence of the concept and its incorporation into contemporary public discourse (Devitt, 2001). History could be subjective, but mainly expected to be a precise and accurate record. Folklore, although rooted in historical narrative and passed down across generations, is not expected to carry the kind of accuracy as history should. This is because its mainly verbal form of transmission and its inherent performance element makes folklore vulnerable to variability and manipulation (Khan, 2009). A word of caution though! History could be handed down verbally too, and like folklore could be accurate, written down and passed through generations. Nonetheless, folklore is associated with traditional stories, gossip, myths and legends, all of which are traditional art forms that are characterised by dubiety, as might be the case with history. A look at the many romanticised accounts of the origin of 'hacking', lends weight to prioritising the folklore around the origin of the concept over historical accounts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hacking: Describes the practices and actions by which individuals and communities’ exploit (or explore) weaknesses of a system and product, which could be technological or social, to get by. It encapsulates both transgressive or 'illegal' and resourceful or 'legal' practices that individuals undertake to circumvent or respond to technological and social challenge or circumstance.

Folklore: Generally refers to forms of cultural expressions, which people use to convey and share their history and identity. It incorporates narratives, jokes, beliefs, proverbs, legends, myths, music, songs, dances, costumes, food, and festivals.

Prosumerism: This is a form of 'hacking' process by which the role of producer or professional or manufacturer and consumer merges to participate in the design and production requirements of products through mass customisation. The end product is a situation where manufacturers adapt or create their products to the specific requirements of consumers to satisfy the customers and generate profit.

Service Providers: A term used to refer to a whole range of agencies, organisations and institutions that provider services to the public (individuals and communities).

Hobby-ism: This refers to a form of 'hacking' process and practice by which an individual customize or adapt a product to one's preferences or tastes to get a desired utility value. People who indulge in this practice are called ‘hobbyists’, and by extension are those customers of products who rather than just accept the manufacturer’s design of a product, will try to adapt it to their specification.

QR code: An abbreviation of Quick Response Code. It is a barcode with a machine-readable optical label of different black squares arranged in a large square or rectangular grid. When scanned, the bar codes respond quickly to allow access to its embedded information about the item to which it is attached.

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