I believe that the reality in which we live is largely if not entirely hackable. We have been fooled into believing that social conventions, law, economics, and nature are hardware - when they are actually software and open to modification. With a little more effort, we can refine the hardware as well.
The current culture wars, as I understand them, are between people who look at our circumstances as pre-existing conditions, and those who see them as largely of our own making. Those in the former camp prefer to see reality as confined by the operating system of a Creator, and the human role confined to behaving within the rule sets established by Him. Those in the latter camp recognize the function of evolution, and the opportunity (if not obligation) for human beings to participate in the ongoing construction of our world and its operating systems.
Some of this design activity is like software modification. We legislate for bike lanes, tax rebates for solar energy development, or freedom to grow plants. This should be the easy part, but - given the beliefs of those in the Creator camp (and the support they get from the most intransigent members of the corporate capitalist elite) - it's quite hard. It can even get depressing to argue against people who don't believe the rules of the game can or should ever be changed.
The other kinds of hacks - the physical hacks - are actually harder. It's hard to figure out how to make traffic flow in a city originally designed for cars, efficient storage for solar cells, or ways to grow organic food or herb on already polluted and demineralized topsoil. But these are the hacks at which Happy Mutants excel, and that are so regularly celebrated on this site.
For me, the physical hacks so often chronicled here serve not only as models or instructions for more hacking, but morale-boosting and solidarity-building reinforcements for the social and spiritual hacking required of activists living in a society hell-bent on corporo-fascism, self-destruction, and religious war. In a world governed largely by people who believe (or want their citizens to believe) that the world is going to end on schedule by decree of the Creator, it is imperative that mutants arise to the challenge of changing the landscape from under them.
But in order to do this successfully, these mutants must be happy. Uninformed by a spirit of underlying joy, the modifications we make to the core program will be no more enlightened than those of our predecessors.
Thus, we BoingBoing.
(Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)