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A Hacker Manifesto

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ISBN-13: 978-0674015432
ISBN-10: 0674015436
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Editorial Reviews

Review

What Ken Wark's book does is take us deep into the philosophy of hacking: it gives us a new way of seeing those irreverent folks who play for keeps with digital culture. Think of his book as a lexicon that says "play with digital culture like you would play with DNA--carefully." It's not every day that you get a book that takes you deep into the realm of practical analysis of the ways that we abstract thought and action in search for more kicks on-line, and for almost all aspects of control in digital culture from the top down "Hacker Manifesto" says--this is about exploration, this is about freedom. Inside out, upside down, information always wants to be free, and this is the book that shows us why. (Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid author of Rhythm Science)

Ours is once again an age of manifestos. Wark's book challenges the new regime of property relations with all the epigrammatic vitality, conceptual innovation, and revolutionary enthusiasm of the great manifestos. (Michael Hardt, co-author of Empire)

A Hacker Manifesto is a highly original and provocative book. At a moment in history where we are starved of new political ideas and directions, the clarity with which Wark identifies a new political class is persuasive, and his ability to articulate their interests is remarkable. (Marcus Boon, author of The Road of Excess)

McKenzie Wark's A Hacker Manifesto might also be called, without too much violence to its argument, The Communist Manifesto 2.0. In essence, it's an attempt to update the core of Marxist theory for that relatively novel set of historical circumstances known as the information age. (Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Diary of a Dubious Proposition)

[Wark's] ambitious A Hacker Manifesto Googles for signs of hope in this cyber-global-corporate-brute world of ours, and he fixes on the hackers, macro-savvy visionaries from all fields who 'hack' the relationships and meanings the rest of us take for granted. If we hackers--of words, computers, sound, science, etc.--organize into a working, sociopolitical class, Wark argues, then the world can be ours. (Hua Hsu Village Voice 2004-09-13)

Writers, artists, biotechnologists, and software programmers belong to the 'hacker class' and share a class interest in openness and freedom, while the 'vectoralist' and 'ruling classes' are driven to contain, control, dominate, and own. Wark crafts a new analysis of the tension between the underdeveloped and 'overdeveloped' worlds, their relationships to surplus and scarcity, and the drive toward human actualization. (Michael Jensen Chronicle of Higher Education 2004-09-24)

Infuriating and inspiring in turn, A Hacker Manifesto will spawn a thousand theses, and just maybe spawn change. (Mike Holderness New Scientist 2004-10-23)

McKenzie Wark's A Hacker Manifesto is a remarkable and beautiful book: cogent, radical, and exhilarating, a politico-aesthetic call to arms for the digital age...Whether or not A Hacker Manifesto succeeds in rousing people to action, it's a book that anyone who's serious about understanding the changes wrought by digital culture will have to take into consideration. (Steven Shaviro Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies 2004-12-01)

McKenzie Wark's aptly named and timely A Hacker Manifesto is a remarkably original and passionate clarion call to question the increasing commodification of information in our digital age. The book is elegantly designed and written in a highly aphoristic style that evokes the grand essay tradition of Theodor Adorno, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin and Friedrich Nietzsche...A Hacker Manifesto is indispensable reading for anyone who wishes to understand the multiplying complexities of digital culture. It is itself an example of hacking: forging a new world out of the ruins of the present one. (John Conomos Sydney Morning Herald 2004-11-27)

The larger argument may not be novel (it's plagued by the same flaws as Marx's original utopian blueprint), but this updated version of that vision provides a clever repudiation of the commodification of art, ingenuity, and the creative impulses--and a useful lens through which to examine the complexities involved in the ownership of ideas in this digital age. (Ruminator Review 2004-11-01)

A Hacker Manifesto is the Big Picture of not only where we are in the 'information age,' but where we're going as well. Adopting the [epigrammatic] style of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, as well as updating its ideas, Ken Wark establishes so-called 'knowledge workers' as an unrecognized social class: 'the hacker class.' Wark also updates Marx and Engels, Deleuze and Guattari, Nietzsche, and a host of others...Far from just being the story of 'us versus them' class struggles, Ken Wark's book is far more complex: It tackles many issues, historical, emergent, and emerging. Opening up new discursive spaces where none existed before, A Hacker Manifesto might well turn out to be one of the most important books of the new century. (Roy Christopher Frontwheeldrive.com 2004-12-01)

A Hacker Manifesto will yield some provocative ideas and real challenges to a world in which everything is commodified. (Eric J. Iannelli Times Literary Supplement 2005-05-27)

Wark's ideas about open-source culture, environmentalism, and the politics of information exchange are fresh enough to merit real attention. A Hacker Manifesto...might incite a genuinely important conversation about the shape of the future. (Peter Ritter Rain Taxi 2005-06-01)

About the Author

McKenzie Wark is Professor of Cultural and Media Studies at Eugene Lang College and of Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research. He is the author of several books, most recently The Beach Beneath the Street.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (October 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674015436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674015432
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

McKenzie Wark is originally from Newcastle, Australia, but moved to New York City in 2000.

He is Professor of Media and Culture at Eugene Lang College the New School for the Liberal Arts and Professor of Liberal Studies at the New School for Social Research.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David M. Reed on July 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sigh when I see writing like this, writing that is so stylized and cryptic that few can understand it. I do understand why some theorists employ this style: trying to break free of certain political and historical conventions, they decide they had better break every convention in language while they are at it. Some of the reason for this book's difficulty is that its language is constantly (but silently) referring to other theorists' work (theorists who mostly write in this difficult style and who are read almost exclusively by academics). So the end result is less than satisfactory, unless you happen to be a poet of this particular school of poetry. Then, it's little more than an internal memorandum to those already in the choir.

On a more practical note, this book isn't about hackers as most people understand the term (and as most who might buy this think it means). Wark is using the term to describe a divers group of not-necessarily related revolutionaries who want to change the world for the better by safeguarding knowledge from privatization and undermining the efforts of those who want to own knowledge.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ted Striphas on November 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McKenzie Wark's *A Hacker Manifesto* is a bold and daring effort to rethink the composition of society in the age of digital media and to constitute a politics appropriate to the tenor of the times. Like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' *The Communist Manifesto,* to which *Hacker* represents a clear homage, Wark deftly walks a fine rhetorical line. On the one hand, he attempts to describe the character and tendencies of contemporary society, a society in which capitalism's reach extends ever deeper by producing new and increasingly abstract forms of private property. On the other hand, like all manifestos worth their salt, Wark's book also is constitutive, helping to call a new creative subject - the hacker class - into being. Their interests and practices, Wark shows, are set against those of the vectoralist class, a group intent on capturing and expropriating the products of those who hack or creatively rework existing cultural raw material. *A Hacker Manifesto* thus serves as a junction point of sorts - both a call and an answer - for an emerging class consciousness and set of creative practices.

*Hacker* also owes a debt to Guy DeBord's *Society of the Spectacle,* given its methodically aphoristic style. And like *Spectacle,* Wark deftly moves between philosophy and social theory, history and economics, politics and media, creation and criticism. The result is a powerfully interdisciplinary - and astonishingly insightful - book whose recombinant style at once embodies and emboldens the politics of hacking that he so admires.

If you choose to read this book (and I hope that you do), bear in mind that what you'll find is eminently quotable.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Percival Hackworth on February 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A Hacker Manifesto is essential and engrossing reading.

Graciously avoiding the definite article, Wark's book successfully breathes new life into a debate which has been stumbling around directionless for some time now, last spotted muttering to itself about the "crisis of the humanities" and the "death of theory." Taking the premise that Marx's legacy is more crucial than ever - especially after 1989 and the rise of the information economy - this carefully-structured collection of aphorisms functions as a positive alternative to the toothless Cultural Studies' mantra celebrating "RTS" (Resistance-Transgression-Subversion). Instead, Hacker Manifesto offers a sophisticated framework for understanding the historical potential latent within an emerging class: the hacker class - needed by the "vectorialist class" (informational entrepreneurs) to do their sterile dirty work, but not completely controlled by them either. Erudite, poetic, and richly condensed, Wark's little red book is as beautifully designed as it is argued.

Indeed, no-one grappling with "the network society" - or the political and ethical stakes of our increasingly digital world - can afford to ignore the challenges and insights offered here. Like Hardt & Negri's Empire, this book is a strategic experiment in optimism, and a vigorous rejection of the passive-nihilism of much diluted French-inspired theory in the 1980s and 90s. There is something of the Pascalian wager here; but in relation to the potential for radical change, rather than divine life after death. Indeed, Wark's expansion of the term "hack" outside computer subcultures and into the wider world of political economy (laws, discourses, institutions, modes of production, etc.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Graham Meikle on February 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Intellectual property may become the defining question of our times for those who work in and between the media and the academy. McKenzie Wark's 'A Hacker Manifesto' is a major intervention in this arena, one that suggests new ways of asking (and answering) 'the property question.' Wark's manifesto is beautifully written in spare, elegant prose of rare economy. The book is structured in short numbered theses, borrowing from Guy Debord's 'Society of the Spectacle', and these are often built around irresistible aphorisms - 'education is slavery', 'invention is the mother of necessity', 'information wants to be free but is everywhere in chains.' Other versions of this text exist online, but this is the one to get: the notes alone (exclusive to this version) are stimulating reading, and the book is handsomely designed. It is a work which deserves to be widely read, used, discussed, taught, argued with - and hacked.
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