Geeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics

TitleGeeks, Social Imaginaries, and Recursive Publics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsKelty, C
Secondary TitleCultural Anthropology
PublisherBlackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
ISBN Number08867356

This article investigates the social, technical, and legal affiliations among "geeks" (hackers, lawyers, activists, and IT entrepreneurs) on the Internet. The mode of association specific to this group is that of a "recursive public sphere" constituted by a shared imaginary of the technical and legal conditions of possibility for their own association. On the basis of fieldwork conducted in the United States, Europe, and India, I argue that geeks imagine their social existence and relations as much through technical practices (hacking, networking, and code writing) as through discursive argument (rights, identities, and relations). In addition, they consider a "right to tinker" a form of free speech that takes the form of creating, implementing, modifying, or using specific kinds of software (especially Free Software) rather than verbal discourse.

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