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testing twitter feed again

On March 8th

Sorry I didn’t notice when it died — you can follow my blog posts at @workingthrough.

all culture is hacker culture, part 2

On March 8th covering ,

I’ve found it pleasant to play around with the concepts of hacking, bricolage and tinkering as different words for a crucially important mode of human operation. It helps me to think about creativity and what talent really is.

The comments from my prior post on the topic have been helpful, including some made privately. Thanks, Hacker News, for the traffic spike.

Dexter Nyamainashe of Zimbabwe: Hacker Supreme

Mr. Nyamainashe grabbed my attention today (via BoingBoing) as exemplifying hacker greatness.

Most of the comments disagreed with my idea: “Nonsense — the vast majority of human culture is the antithesis of hacker culture“. This made me consider the terminology. The commentator didn’t elaborate, but I imagine he takes “hacker culture” to mean a culture in which transgressive ingenuity is valorized — perhaps as seen in subsets of MIT or the early days of the Homebrew Computer Club — and that he might say the majority of culture in all places is in the thrall of convention and fear, the “antithesis” he decries. If this is his meaning, I concede the point. Read more »

music unplayed: talking with Peter Jenner about bands that die before their time

On March 5th 2 Comments covering , ,

I was fortunate to talk with Peter Jenner a few weeks ago. The former manager of Pink Floyd, the Clash and others as well as current manager for Billy Bragg, Jenner is vitally engaged in issues of digital music policy and payment systems.

Photo stolen from

But since I don’t know anything about all that, I got to ask him something I’d been wondering about for a long time.

When a revered band breaks up, the fans mourn and protest, and hopes for reunion dog the band members until enough of them die off.
But maybe the band has run its course and it’s time to end before it becomes its own tribute act. There are times when it is better to declare victory and go home, put out the box set, shed a tear and go on to new projects. It can be liberating and dignified. Read more »

Map of Madoff-inflicted pain

On March 3rd covering ,

This zoomable map shows the extent and distribution of the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Ghastly viewing, especially when you consider how many lives are touched by each dot.

My field, the study of why smart people do irrational things, should be booming about now.

all culture is hacker culture

On February 27th 6 Comments covering , ,

At a tech-business event where I was talking with people about the dynamics of creative groups, a fellow offered that we are becoming a hacker culture, meaning that young people are prone to alter or repurpose software and devices to their liking, to evade DRM and copy protection and generally make things work the way they like.

He’s right– but this isn’t new at all. Sociologist Claude Levi-Strauss spoke about the concept of bricolage, which is usually translated as tinkering or using what’s available to create a new thing. Hacking, in other words. Levi-Strauss posed this as a basic process in the creation of culture. Read more »