K-State assistant professor: Computer hackers have value in society

Roy Wenzl reports:

Kevin Steinmetz, a criminologist at Kansas State University, has studied and met a lot of hackers and he sees value in them. Hacker culture is far more diverse, more interesting, more valuable and more sophisticated than most of us realize, he said.


His latest work, “An Ethnographic Study of Hacking,” has been published in the British Journal of Criminology, according to a statement from Kansas State University. In his work, he defines what a hacker is (and is not) and what it means to “hack.”

Read more on The Witchita Eagle.

Here’s the Abstract of Steinmetz’s article, “Craft(y)ness: An Ethnographic Study of Hacking:”

The idea of the ‘hacker’ is a contested concept both inside and outside the hacker community, including academia. Addressing such contestation the current study uses ethnographic field research and content analysis to create a grounded understanding of ‘the hacker’. In doing so, hacking is revealed to parallel features found in craftwork, often sharing (1) a particular mentality, (2) an emphasis on skill, (3) a sense of ownership over tools and objects of labour, (4) guild-like social and learning structures, (5) a deep sense of commitment, (6) an emphasis on process over result, (7) a common phenomenological experience, and (8) tendencies towards transgression. The final result is that hacking is identified as a kind of transgressive craft or craft(y).

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