History and Historians

Hacker History Revisited

Or, Hells Yes We Make The Future


So, recently I’ve been rethinking the hacker/historian analogy I made a few weeks ago. Two pieces, amongst other things, have me re-cogitating.

The first is a very small piece of a longish review of Google Wave, by Daniel Tenner ( h/t to BoingBoing).

But then again, most geeks don’t do all that much document-based collaboration, by email or otherwise. Programming doesn’t require a whole lot of collaboration, beyond that provided by source control tools and bug tracking system. Being Robert Scoble probably doesn’t require you to spend days working on a specification document for some finicky aspect of project X, or at least not very often, and he’s probably not the one collating everyone’s suggested changes and resubmitting the document for further review.

In your average corporate environment, though, this happens all the time.

I really only bring it up to highlight something I hadn’t stressed before, which is that while both hackers (ok, in this instance “geeks,” but whatever) and humanists collaborate with other colleagues in their work, they don’t do it on every piece — in fact, the discrete unit of output is very much a personal affair (though I imagine this is more so in academia, several times over).

In any case, both differ from the collaboration that happens in (for-profit and non-) corporate workspaces. Anecdotally, this rings very true: my academic self is consistently appalled by how much uncredited work sharing – for presentations! books even! – is de rigueur at my s.o.’s office.

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