Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 70% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, 21 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Paperback)
Gabriella Coleman is mainstream media's first port of call when seeking insight about the hacker world - and this book shows why. Coleman is not a geek (let alone a hacker) but, as a graduate student anthropologist in the late 1990s, she took the time to conduct detailed fieldwork, embedding herself for several years within a particular hacker community. As a result she truly understands her subject. Her descriptions and analysis will enlighten interested readers who don't know much about this world and will provoke smiles and winces of recognition in those who have had some exposure.

Hackers come in many flavours and it is important to establish that Coleman's focus is really on one sub-species: "hackerus F/OSSus". These are hackers committed to developing free / open-source software ("F/OSS") and who have the technical skill necessary to work on the world's largest Free Software collaborative project - the Debian Linux distribution. This book barely touches on hackers who lack either this commitment or this level of technical skill, crackers who 'hack for devious, malicious, or illegal ends', hactivists who use hacking primarily to advance political ends, or even the "Anonymous" phenomenon - which gets precisely one sentence in the epilogue. Some readers may find this frustrating, but the focus does provide great depth of understanding and interpretive insight.

While her subject group is very focused, the topics covered range quite widely. In the introduction, Coleman ties the work together as an analysis of the ethics and aesthetics of hacking, but the main chapters themselves include a potted history of the field, a portrait of a typical free software hacker, a glimpse of the hacker's craft, a deep dive into the Debian community (including an analysis of how it structures itself and resolves disputes), and a dissection of the Great Conflict that has shaped and been shaped by the hacker community, namely the clash between authority-driven attempts to expand and enforce restrictive concepts of intellectual property and the countervailing expansion of concepts of intellectual creativity as a form of protected free speech.

This wide range inevitably leads to a less cohesive text, and this reflects the book's origins in her PhD thesis and assorted academic articles since. This also gives the book a slightly historical feel - the bulk of the work pre-dates 2006 - which is noticeable in an environment that is changing so rapidly. Nevertheless, I cannot recommend this work strongly enough to someone who wants to gain a proper understanding of the hacker's worldview.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer

J. Reffin
(REAL NAME)   

Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 642,767