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: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7661-7.ch027
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This chapter considers the hypothesis that the online (internet) “hacking” concept has applications for community life and processes of sharing memories and identity, and facilitating social engagement and digital inclusion among residents. It specifically presents how the characteristics and practicality of online hacking inspired the design and functionality of a community digital artwork in a disadvantage urban estate in Edinburgh, UK. In addition, the chapter considers the implication of the hacking practices by and among disadvantaged communities for realizing social action, social engagement, and networked society goals of the UK Government's “Big Society” policy. This is significant because the Big Society agenda promotes an interactive networked culture that has transformative potential to connect citizens, build knowledge and continuous learning, and regenerate communities at times of economic austerity in the UK.
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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.

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