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Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking Paperback – December 2, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (December 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691144613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691144610
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2013


"Coding Freedom is insightful and fascinating, a superbly observed picture of the motives, divisions and history of the free software and software freedom world."--Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing



"Anyone who thinks about programmers, open source, online communities, or the politics of intellectual property should have a copy of Coding Freedom on the shelf. It is an invaluable portrait of how free-software coders work, individually and collectively."--James Grimmelmann, Jotwell



"The hacker ethic may be peculiar to outsiders. But it stems from a deep commitment to justice, fairness, and freedom. Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman describes in her phenomenal book Coding Freedom how hacker ethic gets encoded into both technical and political practice."--Danah Boyd, Wired



"Though occasionally she uses academic jargon, her book is an intriguing read and connects the dots. . . . Reading this book will help you to understand the conflict, as well as hacker culture."--David Hutchinson, io9.com



"[S]triking and important. . . . Coleman has captured a great deal of the essential spirit of the free- and open-software movement. . . . I strongly suggest that you buy a copy of the book."--John Gilbey, Times Higher Education



"[I]t is well-written and the analyses really get to the heart of some deeply ethical questions about individual, group and political relationships in voluntary groups which are rarely considered in such detail."--John R. Hudson, Briefing Bradford



"This work by Coleman is at once history, ethnography, cultural criticism, and storytelling. . . . Once can read the book as a narrative of the free software and open source movements, or as a sympathetic description of the behavior norms of hackers. . . . Some readers will likely not consider hackers' aesthetic appreciation of good or clever coding as beauty, nor hackers' humor as funny, but these are Coleman's courageous attempts to provide a rounded depiction of this subculture. This book seems likely to be one of the defining works of cultural anthropology."--Choice



"Coding Freedom is a persuasive piece of writing that tackles some of the questions central to the current political climate."--Sebastian Kubitschko, Culture Machine



"Coding Freedom is an important analysis of F/OSS that offers deep ethnographic detail and creates a complex appreciation of this phenomenon. Coleman is also able to take this rich detail and extend it into the ethics and politics of F/OSS, connecting internal community principles to wider political effects, of which she provides a unique analysis. This book is compulsory reading for anyone interested in the cultural and social meaning of F/OSS and will powerfully repay anyone interested in the nature of ethics and society in the 21st century."--Tim Jordan, American Journal of Sociology

From the Inside Flap

"Coleman knows, understands, and lives free culture. No one is more credible or more fascinating when describing the lives of the women and men whose mission is an open, free information age."--Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and coauthor of The Rapture of the Nerds

"Coleman's book is definitive--everything in it is lovingly detailed, exhaustively researched, fluently written, and packed with provocative insights. A monument of scholarship, it combines the best of anthropology with an unconventional and fresh approach to law, political theory, and ethics. From the conference-going world of software programmers to the humor and pleasures of code-fu, and from the phantasms of free speech to the passion and pathos of technical committees, Coleman is an extraordinary guide to the world of contemporary hacking."--Christopher Kelty, University of California, Los Angeles

"Coleman's book on free and open source software programmers and hackers is desperately needed and will be a significant, landmark contribution to our understanding of the current technologically mediated moment. Coleman mixes case studies with learned treatments of this community, changes in the legal environment, and other relevant dimensions."--Thomas M. Malaby, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"This is a revelatory ethnographic look at the origins and evolution of the free and open source software subculture. Coleman provides entirely new insights into the humor, aesthetics, and social life of hackers, while exploring the philosophical implications of open source for ideas about personal freedom, labor, and markets. Coding Freedom is an essential study of the technological revolution of our times."--Joseph Masco, University of Chicago

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Very nice book about what does it mean to be a hacker.
Pedro Demo
I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether you know nothing about computers or you have been hacking free software since the beginning.
Simon
Coleman has taken her academic work on hackers and made it in to something that is both accessible and has intellectual depth.
Rabble

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom Marble on January 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Coleman understands us better than we understand ourselves.

It is difficult for me to top the reviews of others -- including
the review from Simon who is a friend, colleague and important voice in FLOSS.

I was initially drawn to understand the legal underpinnings
of Free Software because I was struck how essential it is
to have the "freedom to be creative". Typically artists, say painters,
are not given tools of their craft with odd restrictions like
1) paint anything you like, but you cannot use colors in combination
without asking permission first and 2) you may not be inspired
by the masters who have come before you.

That our digital era involves "copying" for any use has led to
a bonanza for the "content development industries". Lessig has
covered the price we pay as a culture for this unintended consequence.
Coleman gives perspective on Lessig's influence in the large -- a perspective
which is desperately needed today.

Artists of the keyboard (hackers) have had to become aware of
the law and specifically how copyright works to understand
how "open source" enables creativity.

The trajectory of technology is pointing clearly to software
in a starring role. And thus fully understanding the power
and risks of software for creativity, privacy, security and free speech
is not optional. Coding Freedom offers a lexicon to discuss
and work together for the kind of technology we want in our society.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Fein on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
Speaking as a programmer and husband of an anthropologist, this is one heck of a good book. Coleman strikes the rare balance between academic rigor and readability. She clearly explains the experience of being a hacker in terms understandable to a lay audience. I was blown away by the connections she draws between the open source movement and larger trends in free speech and intellectual property law.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rabble on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
So much has been written about software developers and hacker culture is done by people who haven't spent the time to figure out how it really works. Coleman has taken her academic work on hackers and made it in to something that is both accessible and has intellectual depth. Well worth reading for anybody who's trying to understand the culture of hackers, the culture of people who make software which is reshaping the world.

One really cool part of the book is it gets in to the relationship between hacker culture and politics. Why do hackers become political and around which issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JShak on July 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a general insight into the culture of free software developers it lines up nicely with the new interest in the cyber realm (malicious hackers are not covered in the book). It is written very densely with Coleman featuring a pleasant, eloquent style of writing, though the myriad of influences that helped form her world view and the wealth of information at times make it a bit laborious to read. Nonetheless, the insight this ethnography presents is enriching not only for the general reader, but also the field of cultural anthropology itself. Thank you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By yael vaya on May 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book, refreshing to read an anthropological study on FOSS (and the Debian community in particular) and, such a thorough one. Many insights, one of the most impressing (to me) was that FOSS is rooted in liberal thought. By creating the copyleft license, Stallman, according to Coleman, implied the same kind of skills he used for solving complicated bugs. By creating, as it where, a patch, to a conflict rooted at the heart of western, capitalist liberalism. That of Individual freedom verses copy right law. This insight is impressive as I personally never read or heard anyone provide evidence for such an idea. What’s more, Coleman describes processes and change within FOSS - for example, the development of FOSS discourse over freedom. Her demonstration of the way in which liberalism is incorporated on the individual level by FOSS developers is also insightful - constant self-improvement verses consumption. However, for me the greatest take is that by tying between liberal thought and FOSS, Coleman provides a great base for researching the role of FOSS within society, not just Hacker culture. What’s more it holds the potential of shifting the discussion from WHAT is being produced by FOSS developers and the ways it can be utilized, to the question of WHY is it being produced in the first place and what kind of need does it fulfill?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amacater on March 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book is, essentially, the expansion of the author's doctoral dissertation. As such, you need to be prepared to hack anthropology in significant detail to get the best out of this book. [Approximately 1/8 of the book is footnotes, for example]

That said, Biella is extremely clear: the depth of her significant and extensive research shows through, as does her involvement in the community. She is very good indeed on the politics, culture and occasional flame wars and mayhem of the Debian Project.
[Disclaimer: I am a Debian developer and have been in email contact with Ms. Coleman, who is at least as readable, erudite, humourful and intelligent IRL]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By justleft on February 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking

Hear interview with author Biella Coleman here: [...]

In the past 2 years, we've discussed in many interviews and updates, the attacks on whistle-blowers and hackers. The emerging movement of programmers, hackers, open source software, online communities has challenged and exposed corporate and government control and surveillance, making them targets of prosecution. Today we talk with author Gabriella Coleman about her recently published book Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking. It's a good place to start for those learning about the political significance of free software, intellectual property and the morality of computer hacking.

Gabriella Coleman:

■When you utter the word hacker, usually the image that pops into people's minds is nefarious criminal. That can be the case but really hackers are composed of an extremely lively group of individuals who tend to be computer programmers and network administrators, who actually are committed to a range of civil liberties such as free speech and privacy. Especially in the last decade they've been involved in political activities as well.
■They're quite a bit of diversity among hackers, technically.
■Hackers - are keenly aware of the issues such as censorship, which impact the present and the future of the internet. Some hackers are committed to insuring internet freedoms for their own productive autonomy.
■Beyond productive autonomy they're really starting to care about the broader issues relating to internet freedoms and how they relate to democracy at large.
■In order for software to be made, it must be written in a programming language such as C++, Python and Pearl and its written in source code.
Read more ›
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