hacker ethics

Thanks to dan for this

Warnick B.R. (2004). Technological Metaphors and Moral Education: The Hacker Ethic and the Computational Experience. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 23, 4, 265-281.

This essay is an attempt to understand how technological metaphors, particularly computer metaphors, are relevant to moral education. After discussing various types of technological metaphors, it is argued that technological metaphors enter moral thought through their “functional descriptions.” The computer metaphor is then explored by turning to the “hacker ethic.” Analysis of this ethic reveals parallels between the experience of computer programming and the moral standards of those who are enmeshed in computer technology. This parallel suggests that the hacker ethic is being pushed by a computer metaphor and its functional descriptions in a direction of individualism and systems thinking. After examining some possible implications of the computer metaphor, this essay offers suggestions concerning how technological metaphors may be critiqued.

Ironically for a paper about the hacker ethic you can’t get the PDF on-line, but i did find Biella Coleman, from the University of Chicago and her blog, Sato Roams and her research proposal The Social Creation of Productive Freedom: Free Software Hacking and the Redefinition of Labor, Authorship, and Creativity. which contains, in the section headed ‘UNIX: A Living, Breathing Software Entity’, a quote from the wonderful In the Beginning was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson (1999):

..UNIX, by contrast, is not so much a product as it is a painstakingly compiled oral history of the hacker subculture. It is our Gilgamesh epic… Likewise, UNIX is known, loved, understood by so many hackers that it can be recreated from scratch whenever someone needs it.