Reach Out And Touch Face: A Rant About Failing

By Johannes Grenzfurthner/monochrom

October 11th, 2009
8pm

Hackers love knowledge. They try to find out how stuff works. And that’s great.
Experimentation is a major part of hacking. It is in the most philosophical sense a deconstruction of things.

A specific use is never inherent to an object, even though technical demagogues like to claim that it is.
Just compare the term “self-explanatory” and the term “archeological find”. It’s a pretty hard task to find out what technology is and what it should do if you don’t have a clue about the context. Usually the use is connected with the object through definition (“instructions for use”). Turning an object against the use inscribed in it means probing its possibilities.

Science and Technology Studies (especially Langdon Winner and Bruno Latour) have convincingly demonstrated that the widespread inability to understand technological artifacts as fabricated entities, as social and cultural phenomena, derives from the fact that in retrospect only those technologies that prove functional for a culture and can be integrated into everyday life are “left over.” However, the perception of what is functional, successful and useful is itself the product of social and cultural, and last but not least political and economic processes. Selection processes and abandoned products (developmental derailments, sobering intermediary results, useless prototypes) are not discussed.

Well. What can we do?
We can fail. Beautifully.

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