Coding Freedom: an anthropologist understands hacker culture

Biella Coleman is a geek anthropologist, in both senses of the epithet: an anthropologist who studies geeks, and a geek who is an anthropologist. Though she's best known today for her excellent and insightful work on the mechanism and structure underpinning Anonymous and /b/, Coleman is also an expert on the organization, structure, philosophy and struggles of the free software/open source movements. I met Biella while she was doing fieldwork as an intern at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She's also had deep experience with the Debian project and many other hacker/FLOSS subcultures.

Coleman's has published her dissertation, edited and streamlined, under the title of Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking, which comes out today from Princeton University Press (Quinn Norton, also well known for her Wired reporting on Anonymous and Occupy, had a hand in the editing). Coding Freedom walks the fine line between popular accessibility and scholarly rigor, and does a very good job of expressing complex ideas without (too much) academic jargon.

Coding Freedom is insightful and fascinating, a superbly observed picture of the motives, divisions and history of the free software and software freedom world. As someone embedded in both those worlds, I found myself surprised by connections I'd never made on my own, but which seemed perfectly right and obvious in hindsight. Coleman's work pulls together a million IRC conversations and mailing list threads and wikiwars and gets to their foundations, the deep discussion evolving through the world of free/open source software.

Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking


        1. Likely so unfortunately.

          One of the many things i like about Doctorow is he managed to have all of his works with no DRM lock (how much of a factor he was in TOR going drm-free I dunno, probably alot but i don’t know.)

          1.  It will be available as soon as I get my website up. It is under a CC license. Maybe someone will beat me to it but teaching minds takes a heck of a lot of time and I need to finish this week and I will put up the pdf DRM free.

          2. I’d figured it was publisher rather than author enforced DRM.

            Also you’ve made my christmas buying list both for interesting subject matter and matter of principles to support people like you. 

      1. I graduated from McGill in 2010, & for 2 years in the Anthro dept I tried to bring up doing study projects on these precise topics, but no one pointed me your way. :(  While now I feel like I’ve missed a massive chance, I’ll at least have your book!

      2. It has now been a month, and still no ebook download. What’s going on? Did your publisher pull a bait-and-switch, or have you just reinvented the release window?

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