The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking
By: Gabriella Coleman

Frequently Asked Questions
+ Can I share the book?

Yes, it is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, No Commercial, No Derivates license the terms of which you are read about here. If you are a publisher interested in translation, please contact me and I will put you in touch with Princeton University Press.

+ How should I read this book?

“...what I enjoy in a narrative is not directly its content or even its structure, but rather the abrasions I impose upon the fine surface: I read on, I skip, I look up, I dip in again. Which has nothing to do with the deep laceration the text of bliss inflicts upon language itself, and not upon the simple temporality of its reading.”
– Roland Barthes The Pleasure of the Text.

It depends. The introduction seems indispensable but since I wrote it, I am rather biased. After the introduction there are a few possibilities. Here are a few suggestions because in the end, the pleasure of the text is to skip, look up, and dip again as you please.

If you know zilch about this world, you might want to start at the beginning and I would suggest to read through first two chapters after the introduction as they provide pretty essential background.

Although F/OSS developers tend to know quite a bit of the material in those first two chapters—I was asked numerous time, “How did you write about my life when you never interviewed me?”— they tend to like them, as it provides a (cheap!) trip down memory lane or so I have been told. Parents and partners, if they are unaware or confused as to what you do as a free software chapter, might find Chapter 1 and 2 illuminating.

If you a scholarly type who knows quite a bit about this world, and are finding you know quite a bit in chapter 1 and 2, you might want to skip to Chapter 3 and 4, which represent the ethnographic heart of the book and continue on to the final two chapters which consider the political implications and consequences of a world that otherwise narrowly configures its politics.

+ How can I give back?

I am tracking downloads as this can help me in the future make the case for such a more open license so it would be helpful if you can just point people to this website. Reviews on Amazon are also appreciated. And do do share the book website URL on Twitter, Facebook, et al.

+ Why did you not write about x [x being gender, BSD, infosec, I can go on and on]?

So when you write a book you are faced with the extremely difficult task of managing the complex cacophony of a social world. Anyone who has gone through the truly humbling task of writing a book, knows that the author has to make tough choices about what to include and exclude.

The question of gender is darn important and it is a topic I care quite a bit about. However, at the time, I did not do the research required to say something meaningful, rich, and accurate. The person who has done so is Christina Dunbar Hester. We have penned a few thoughts on the question of F/OSS and gender and I encourage you to check out her excellent work on the topic. I will one day write something a bit longer on it too

+ Any further questions about liberalism...

I recommend Stuart Hall's “Variants of Liberalism” because I am in no mood to reinvent the wheel when his wheel is the best there is...

  • Stuart Hall, “Variants of Liberalism,” in James Donald and Stuart Hall eds., Politics and Ideology (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1986), pp. 34-69.