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Hacking in the public interest: authority, legitimacy, means and ends

Powell, Alison (2016) Hacking in the public interest: authority, legitimacy, means and ends. New Media and Society, 18 (4). pp. 600-616. ISSN 1461-4448

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1461444816629470


The cultural appropriation of ideas about hacking and opening knowledge have had significant impact on ways of developing participation in creating knowledge in the public interest. In particular, the ideal of hacking as developed through studies of free and open source (F/OS) has highlighted the value of processes of participation, including participatory governance, in relation to the value of expanded accessibility of knowledge, including knowledge commons. Yet these means and ends are often conflated. This paper employs three examples of projects where hacker-inspired perspectives on scientific knowledge contend with institutional perspectives. Each example develops differently the relationships between means and ends in relation to contests of authority and legitimacy. The paper’s analysis suggests that while hacker culture’s focus on authority developed in relation to participation has had great traction in business and in public interest science, this may come at the cost of a potential contribution to rethinking the value of knowledge in the public interest.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2016 15:54
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 02:09

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