An experience in the Aether: A hack of the hacker manifesto

Taking a chunk of  A HACKER MANIFESTO [version 4.0] by McKenzie Wark readers were invited  to create a collective text based on it. You can read final text here

Returning to the world of collaborative online performance with Furtherfield after so long, it was a compelling but terrifying experience. The text chat which accompanied the evolving text was where i sat, lurked, ventured out and felt the fear as others confidently asserted their ambiguity. After about half an hour i became more conscious of the rhythm of the discussion and lurched from one side of the screen to the other where the text was appearing haphazardly before my eyes. Nobody, Nobody. At one point i became Nobody – along with another 3 or 4 nobodies also playing the game. It was a liberating exchange then. Nobody knew which nobody talked – they hacked my identity but it was liberating. Then whilst i was enjoying the disembodied collectivity of feeling like nobody i was given back my name. A body with a need to be somebody but nostalgic for the nobody that became free.

So thinking about how this relates to my own practice, i think that the excitement and fear experienced on arrival is something worth exploring more. Also – the slowly building confidence you can rightly or wrongly feel is certainly present. The constantly moving dialogue between distantly connected users simultaneously sparking connections, moving within imagined spaces is infectious. I was sad when it ended.

There is also the sense of being an intruder – did i know what i was doing in the game? did i have time to read the hacker manifesto? no. so did i care? a bit. Did i feel like a fraud? a bit, but then i know people join in things when they have less than perfect knowledge. That’s how it goes. You rock up and copy whatever other people are doing. You get it wrong, badly wrong. Then at some point it clicks – the general sense of what is going on. The twinkle in the sky that everyone is pointing at suddenly turns into something that you see too. I should read the hacker manifesto now anyhow since being an opportunist doesn’t make me a hacker. It makes me something else – a freeloader, lurker, imposter perhaps but not a hacker. Yet.

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