Vectors vs Borders

McKenzie Wark’s ‘A Hacker Manifesto’ (2004), describes in great detail the advantages of hacking, along with the setbacks that hackers face on an everyday basis. Hackers usually come in two forms; the first being people that crack codes and create new ones to invent a new system and change the world. Being quite a utopian view, they can be seen as entrepreneurs. The second consists of people that are political and use hacking as a way to break down the old and existing system in order to bring in a new one, believing again that they can bring about a better world. As Wark (2004) points out in his text, ‘hackers create the possibility of new things entering the world.’

Wark holds a pessimistic view of the way in which information is held by the ‘ruling class’ and withheld from people that need it to expand their knowledge. He sees knowledge as more important than education, that education is the organisation of knowledge (Wark 2004) and hackers desire knowledge not education.

McKenzie says that information is commodity, knowledge is a form of property, but who really owns it? Hackers want to free the information from the constraints of the vectorialist class, the ruling class who control the archives of information and the flows of information. A real life of example of this is when Aaron Swartz, a hacker, gained access to the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies JSTOR data base. He began downloading journal articles and as discussed in the film The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014), it is unknown whether Aaron is downloading these articles to distribute to everyone, as free information or if he was accessing them for his own monetary gain. I believe that this is one of the issues that Wark is trying to get across in his text, when and why is it ok for the rich, influential people of the world to hold all information tied up in copyright and trademarks? Why can all information not be free, for all people to access in order to expand their knowledge?

‘Free information must be free in all its aspects — as a stock, as a flow and as a vector’ (Wark 2004), I agree with McKenzie Wark in a way, I do believe that information should be more readily available for the betterment of people and the world. On the other hand, I understand that hacking can be used for criminal activity, to steal bank details and money in some cases. I feel that although information should be free, there should be some constraints on how free it should be.


Reference List:

Wark, M 2004, A Hacker Manifesto [Version 4.0], Monadology Other Worlds Black Book Mailbox, date retrieved: 3/9/15, http://subsol.c3.hu/subsol_2/contributors0/warktext.html

Knappenberger, B 2014, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, YouTube, date retrieved: 3/9/15, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vz06QO3UkQ