• Radical Inclusion? Locating Accountability in Technical DIY

    Christina Dunbar-Hester (see profile)
    Political participation, Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.), Critical thinking, Ethnology, Science--Study and teaching, Technology--Study and teaching
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Activism, Critical making, Ethnography, Radio, Science and technology studies (STS)
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    This chapter examines DIY (do-it-yourself) politics in the realm of practice. To do this, it follows the work of a group of media activists whose work foregrounded engagement with communication technologies. Working in a self-consciously collaborative mode, the activists promoted hands-on work with radio and Internet hardware as a means to enact DIY politics. This practice was understood to be in service of a broader goal of facilitating technical and political engagement through “demystification” of technology. Specifically, the media activists sought to cultivate a particular mode of “maker” identity. They presented technical engagement as a strategy for leveling expertise and increasing political participation. In this, they recognized that tinkering is as much a form of cultural production as a technical one;1 the activists sought to produce not just technical artifacts but egalitarian social relations by eroding boundaries between experts and laypeople. Activists suggested that demystification of technology through widespread hands-on making could provide an alternative to prevalent technical cultures in which authority is not distributed but resides exclusively with experts. By emphasizing technical participation, these activists distinguished themselves from and mounted a challenge to volunteer projects where technical virtuosity is paramount (notably, free and open source software projects, for example). This enabled them to focus on the deliberate cultivation of a radically participatory technical identity, enacting DIY as a mode of technical and political decision making that rests on technical empowerment, where the notion of active political and technological agency is key.
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    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
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