Abstract

Since the early days of the MIT Railway Club when the foundations for what we know as hacking were being laid, there has been an understanding that information should be free to be exchanged with anyone who needs or wants it. Back in those early days, the “hackers” shared code amongst themselves; they even had a drawer near their console containing utilities available to everyone to use and improve upon. They saw as an efficient use of everybody’ time by reducing the time-wasting effort of different people developing their own version of the same program. So, even though the term Open Source Software (OSS) was not first used until the late 1990s, a good 20 years later, as hacking came into being did it not also give birth to OSS?

In this dissertation I intend to explore the relationship between hacking and OSS. I will look at their beginnings with the MIT Model Railway Club and the belief in those early days that all information should be free, the underlying principle in my opinion of the hacker/open source movement. I will explore how the development of the Internet was dependant upon them. I also intend to investigate how they have become politicised through Creative Commons, the media’s (mis)interpretation of hacking and what McKenzie Wark describes as a “class conflict”; the difference of philosophy between hackers and the large corporations who want to protect their intellectual property. Through this, I hope to show that the development of one has had a direct impact on the other and that they have become co-dependant.



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