[artinfo] Hackademia: empirical studies in computing cultures

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Fri Nov 20 13:22:46 CET 2015

	(call for participants)

DCRL Digital Cultures Research Lab
Leuphana University
Am Sande 5
21335 Lüneburg

15. November 2015
Call For Participants

Hackademia: empirical studies in computing cultures
A Digital Cultures Research Lab (DCRL) Summer School
August 28th - September 2nd, 2016
Leuphana University

Curated by

Paula Bialski, Leuphana University
Gabriella Coleman, McGill University 
Marcell Mars, Leuphana University


Studying digital media today means studying those 
technologists-hackers, security resarchers, game 
developers, system administrators, and 
designers-who create and maintain the digital 
worlds we live in. How much agency lies in the 
hands of programmers, coders, and engineers to 
create our digital worlds is still up for debate, 
yet this much is true: various hacking and 
related subcultures form critical nodes of 
practice that help shape and condition the 
contemporary technologies we use everyday. 
Whether it is an analyst or coder implementing 
algorithms at a large financial institution, a 
group of designers working on improving the user 
interface for a cryptographic tool, a privacy 
team securing a browser, a developer coding her 
own app, cryptographers working on an open source 
anoymized system, a programmer working on a p2p 
file-sharing platform, hackers buying and selling 
zero days in a grey market, a team of system 
administrators at Google working to scale up 
services, a journalist-coder developing 
visualization tools, indie game developers 
seeking to write a politically minded game, or a 
hacker-leaker whistleblowing to salavage privacy 
- all have something to say about how digital 
technology can and should be created.

These technology workers/experts are now central 
to every field of social, political, and economic 
import. They secure our communications networks; 
shape the design and portals we use to connect to 
our banks, our friends, our loved ones, our 
colleagues, our business partners; inform us 
about the activities of our governments; design 
novel currencies; exfiltrate intellectual 
property and proof of wrongdoing from corporate 
actors; offer us alternative ways of organizing 
our political voices whether through political 
projects or games; function as conduits and 
warriors between nations; and allow us to 
confront the laws we don't like - through 
democratic engagements, as in the Free Software 
movement, or tools that enable outright 

This is an ideal time to understand and 
ultimately appraise their activities, actions, 
their desires, and intentions. While an 
increasing number of scholars - ethnographers, 
cultural anthropologists, sociologists, and media 
historians - are undertaking the study of hacker 
cultures,there are many methodological questions 
to pose and explore: How much technical knowledge 
is necessary to study the worlds of computing and 
programming?  How does one gain access to secret 
nooks of hacking or corporate sites - whether a 
security company, gaming outfit, or blackhat 
computer forum - where codes, designers, and 
hackers labor? How is the study of hackers 
similar and different to the study of other 
experts such as scientists? As participant 
observers, how can we fully understand the 
engineering culture of the hackers we are 
studying, and what shortcuts in our methods must 
be taken in order to create an understanding?

Who Should Apply? 

This summer school invites doctoral students in 
the field of ethnography, cultural anthropology, 
media studies, software studies, sociology, 
science, technology studies, history, or other, 
who are currently working on a dissertation on 
the life-worlds, practices, cultures, or 
platforms of hackers. Hackers here are understood 
broadly as programmers, coders, pirates, and 
computer engineers of all shapes and forms - and 
do not necessarily have to be engaged in illegal 
or subversive activity or self identify as 
hackers. Applicants who are struggling with field 
entry, are learning to code, or seek to expand 
their methods, are particularly welcome.

Who Will Attend?

This summer school will provide a dialogue 
between hackers and academics. As such, we will 
additionally invite a number of hackers, coders, 
programmers, and technologists. These guests will 
lead sessions around the topic of field entrance, 
knowledge transfer, work organization and hacker 
communication practices, feminist critiques, and 
standards/protocols. Keynote speakers will also 
provide evening lectures, and help lead sessions.

Where and when will this take place?

The Hackademia summer school will take place at 
the Digital Cultures Research Lab (DCRL), 
Leuphana University in Luneburg, Germany (30 
minutes away from Hamburg), between August 28th - 
September 2nd, 2016.

How to apply:

Please submit your CV along with a 500-word 
abstract of your dissertation, and a 500-word 
explanation on why you would like to attend this 
summer school. The deadline for applications for 
the summer school is January 4th, 2016. Please 
email your applications (compile into one PDF) to 
bialski at leuphana.de

All applicants will be informed about the 
selection of participants in mid-February.

The working language of the summer school will be 
English; therefore, a sufficient understanding of 
English is expected.

There is no participation fee. The organizers 
will cover accommodation costs. We have a limited 
amount of need-based travel funding available. 
Please indicate in your application letter if you 
wish to apply for travel funding.

For further information on the DCRL, please visit:


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