Bits and Pieces Loosely Joined

Punk, DIY Culture, Hacker, Alter-Globalization and Prosumerism

Guy West [ ]

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Bits and Pieces Loosely Joined

Punk ideology

Beginning in the late 1970s and continuing to the present, there has evolved a distinctive and largely cohesive system of thought associated with the punk subculture.

Individualism, anti-authoritarianism, political anarchism, free thought, and ethics are concepts, among others, that are addressed by this philosophy. Punk ideology views the world and most that are in it as deeply corrupt and wrong. Punk thoughts usually achieve expression through punk music, fanzines, and spoken-word albums.


DIY Punk Ethic

The driving ethic behind most sincere Punk efforts is DIY-- Do It Yourself. We don't need to rely on rich business men to organize our fun for their profit- we can do it ourselves for no profit. We Punks can organize gigs... put out records, publish books and fanzines, set up mail order distributions for our products, run record stores...We do all of these things, and we do them well. Can any other youth-based counterculture of the 80's and 90's claim so much?

Profane Existence #11/12


Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher's Children

From the environmentalist to the video activist, the raver to the road protester, the neo-pagan to the anarcho-capitalist. The counterculture of the nineties offers a vibrant, provocative and positive alternative to institutionalized unemployment and the restricted freedoms and legislated pleasures of UK plc.

DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain by George McKay

DIY Culture

[ M11 link road | McLibel | RTS | EF! |tilo | Hund subs | LETS | Football  | Disabled People | Squatters | Queer | Pensioners | Peace | Free Parties | Acid House | CJA | Twyford Down | SchNEWS | Squall | Urban 75 | Do or Die ]

Cosmo on DIY Culture

A sign in the courthouse summed up DIY philosophy

  1. This is going to be huge - realise it. Grow fins and swim
  2. Listen to new people
  3. Share responsibility
  4. Nip egos and attitudes in the bud - no power struggle
  5. Communications stop ructions - talk
  6. If you are feeling stressed pass the job on and go!
  7. Never laugh at fat bastards in clouds

DIY culture, Justice? and Exodus by Mary Anna Wright (from Ecstasy and the Dance Culture)

The Essence of DIY Culture

  1. DIY Culture draws on a long tradition of grassroots movements that has existed over the centuries in many different forms.
  2. People involved have usually been personally affected by the activities of the authorities or big business. [  M11 link road | McLibel ]
  3. DIY Culture involves a shift from apathy to action, a realization that it is no good sitting around complaining about things.
  4. Many people doing have no faith in conventional politics as a means of change.
  5. It is born out of a sense of frustrating with tried and tested methods of protest; people start trying a different approach because the old one doesn't work.
  6. DIY Culture is about people formulating their own lifestyles, creating their own systems, setting their own agendas, raising their own issues, using their own vocabulary and finding their own ways to deal with problems rather than waiting for someone else to do it. [ Local Exchange Trading Systems ]
  7. People are living these systems and agendas, not just talking about them.
  8. DIY Culture has no unifying politics or ideology. It tends to be individualistic.
  9. A diverse range of people is involved. [ Football fans, Animal Rights, Disabled People, Squatters, Greens, Queer, Pensioners, Peace, Free parties]
  10. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 acted as a strong focus for DIY Culture, bringing many of the diverse groups into contact with each other.
  11. DIY Culture is associated with a revival of non-violent direct action: protests against the M3 extension through Twyford Down in Hampshire were a catalyst.
  12. The people involved in DIY Culture often feel empowered by the experience.
  13. Some DIY Culture is linked with the mainstream media, using innovative direct action to capture the attention of national newspapers, television and radio, thereby raising issues and stimulating debate.
  14. DIY Culture also has its own media to carry news and information that the mainstream media ignore, to keep in contact and address important issues. [ SchNEWS | Squall | Urban 75 | Do or Die (earth first!) | FIN ]

Gathering Force: DIY Culture - Radical action for those tired of waiting

by Elaine Brass and Sophie Poklewski Koziell. Edited by Denise Searle.
The Big Issue: London, 1997


WTO Meeting of 1999 in Seattlea social movement which supports the international integration of globalization but demands that values of democracy, economic justice, environmental protection, and human rights be put ahead of purely economic concerns.

WTO Meeting of 1999 in Seattle (N30) and indymedia.

Concepts of Freedom

Hacking at MIT

Information wants to be free

Peter Samson - Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT, 1959

Time-sharing Computing

Early mainframe computers were extremely expensive, it was not possible to allow a single user exclusive access to the machine for interactive use. But because computers in interactive use often spend much of their time idly waiting for user input, it was suggested that multiple users could share a machine by using one user's idle time to service other users.


Unix or UNIX is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a group of AT&T Bell Labs employees including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and Douglas McIlroy.

source code is not a commodity

In the 1960s and 1970s, software was not considered to be a product but rather an add-on the mainframe vendors gave to their customers to use the computers at all. In that culture, programmers and developers frequently shared their software freely among each other.

Richard M. Stallman

Richard StallmanRichard Matthew Stallman, a.k.a. RMS, (born March 16, 1953) is the founder of the free software movement, the GNU project, and the Free Software Foundation.

Printer Jamming

Richard Stallman, a software programmer at the MIT AI Lab, had problems with the lab's printer jamming; he set about fixing the software. ...done this before with the old printer. Stallman tries to get the source code to change the driver software, but he can't get it. Xerox only supplied a machine-readable program, not the source code.

Free as in Freedom By Sam Williams

used and abused

Richard Stallman worked on a Lisp interpreter. Symbolics asked to use this software. Stallman agreed to supply them with a public domain version of his work. Symbolics improved the Lisp interpreter, but when he wanted access to the improvements that Symbolics had made to his interpreter, they refused.

Free as in Freedom By Sam Williams


[Originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe]

A person who delights in having an intimate understanding of the internal workings of a system, computers and computer networks in particular. The term is often misused in a pejorative context, where cracker would be the correct term. See also: cracker.

Requests for Comments 1392

Hacker vs. IT companies

The hacker norm of information wants to be free was a threat to emerging computer companies who had a proprietary interest in making sure that software could be sold and hardware secrets kept hidden from their competition... (vital) ...for the breakthroughs in the development of personal computing.

Steve Mizrach

Defending the principles of hackerism

Richard Stallman The Last of the Hackers, who vowed to defend the principles of hackerism to the bitter end. Remained at MIT until there was no one to eat Chinese food with.

Steven Levy, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.

hacker ethic: n.

  1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing open-source code and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible.
  2. The belief that system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.

...hackers build things, crackers break them

Principles of the Hacker Ethic

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy

How to become a Hacker

The Hacker Attitude

  1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.
  2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
  3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.
  4. Freedom is good.
  5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

Basic Hacking Skills

  1. Learn how to program.
  2. Get one of the open-source Unixes and learn to use and run it.
  3. Learn how to use the World Wide Web and write HTML.
  4. If you don't have functional English, learn it.

Status in the Hacker Culture

  1. Write open-source software
  2. Help test and debug open-source software
  3. Publish useful information
  4. Help keep the infrastructure working
  5. Serve the hacker culture itself

Free as Free Speech, not Free Beer.

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.Free software is a matter of the users' freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.

Frustration leads to action

Stallman wants to create a complete operating system - called GNU based on his free software concept, meaning that users are allowed to copy, modify and redistribute it.

On January 5, 1984, Stallman quit his job at MIT so that they could not claim ownership and interfere with distributing GNU as free software.

Copyleft and GPL

The purpose of the GPL (GNU General Public License) is to grant the user rights to copy, modify, and redistribute programs (normally prohibited by copyright), and to ensure that those rights are preserved in derivative works via a copyleft mechanism.

Four freedoms of Free software

  1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  2. The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  4. The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Free in Free Software

free in free software means that the source code has been liberated and anybody may copy and compile it, but that does not exclude payment.

Linux: Participatory programming

Linus Torvalds, Finnish university student, while attending the University of Helsinki initially wrote the Linux operating system as a hobby. Immediately, thousands of developers around the world participated in the development of Linux.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Gift economy vs. Market economy

Free Software vs. Open Source

The fundamental difference between the two movements is in their values, their ways of looking at the world. For the Open Source movement, the issue of whether software should be open source is a practical question, not an ethical one. As one person put it, Open-Source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement.


Do it yourself or DIY refers to the practice of fabricating or repairing things on one's own rather than purchasing them or paying for professional repair.

In the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this involved simply the renovation of older homes. But it also related to some extent to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the '60s and early '70s.

Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand, a young American visionary, working with friends and family, and initially using the most basic of typesetting and page-layout tools, created issue number one of The Whole Earth Catalog [magazine] in late 1968. It was subtitled Access to Tools.

Kevin Kelly

was the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and former publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog. Kelly is considered an expert in digital culture, and is said to have helped make technology part of popular culture.


Creative Commons

...true creativity needs to be open, fluid, and alive. When it comes to copyright, be pro-choice.

Rip, Mix, Burn.

Remix culture is a term employed by Lawrence Lessig to describe a society which allows and encourages derivative works. Such a culture would be, by default, permissive of efforts to improve upon, change, integrate, or otherwise remix the work of copyright holders. Lessig presents this as a desirable ideal and argues, among other things, that the health, progress, and wealth creation of a culture is fundamentally tied to this participatory remix process.

Remix Culture (not only music)

Rules for Remixing, Rael Dornfest

Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering (RE) is the process of taking something (a device, an electrical component, a software program, etc.) apart and analyzing its workings in detail, usually with the intention to construct a new device or program that does the same thing without actually copying anything from the original.

The LazyWeb request

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Coined by the futurist Alvin Toffler in his book The Third Wave in 1980. Prosumer is a blend of producer and consumer. The future type of consumer who would become involved in the design and manufacture of products, so they could be made to individual specification. He argued that we would then no longer be a passive market upon which industry dumped consumer goods but a part of the creative process.

The Pro-Ams

From astronomy to activism, from surfing to saving lives, Pro-Ams - people pursuing amateur activities to professional standards - are an increasingly important part of our society and economy.

The Pro-Am Revolution argues this historic shift is reversing. We're witnessing the flowering of Pro-Am, bottom-up self-organisation and the crude, all or nothing, categories of professional or amateur will need to be rethought.

The Pro-Am Revolution, How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society by Charles Leadbeater

Amateur Revolution

What is a Toasternet?

Bill Woodcock builds fancy corporate computer networks by day and "chewing gum and baling wire" toasternets by night. He builds these consummate street-tech creatures out of "borrowed, salvaged, reclaimed, recycled, dumpster-dived, and cobbled-together hardware." [ Toasternet ] [ Toasted to a Golden Brown ]