CODES OF VALUE
FIGURE 3.1. WTFs/minute
Credit: Thom Holwerda.
Anthropologists often focus on cultural value—those ethical, aesthetic, and political attributes of social life that a group has come to deem important, and that ultimately help define it as distinct from other groups. The next two chapters tackle the question of cultural value as a starting point to address a host of questions about hacker technical and cultural production along with the tensions that mark hackers’ social dynamics, collaborative practices, and organizational forms.
Although we might be able to identify some indisputable commitments among hackers, such as meritocracy and the form of individualism it entails, the foundation of value among hackers is never without dispute and friction. Indeed, hacking, like all social domains, is shot through with a series of notable tensions. These oscillate between individualism and collectivism, elitism and humility, and frustration and deep pleasure, among others. There are various codes—i nformal and formal—by which hackers negotiate the tensions that characterize their productive landscape.