ooh, shiny!

One of the problems with hackathons is that they place too much focus on speed and novelty, leading to a hacker culture which expects us to build something quickly, then move on to the next new thing. The maker culture isn’t that much different: makers build something based on a new idea, just to try it out. In many cases, this is a good thing: innovation thrives when we push the boundaries of what we know. But when we focus more on “newer” and “sooner” we tend to skip steps, or make sacrifices which result in poor long-term quality.

It would be false to assume, however, that this mentality is restricted to hackers and makers; I think this is systemic across most human activities. We touched on some topics of power and dominance when we read Freire, and I think those themes are especially relevant here, where “newer” is assumed to be “better” and “sooner” really means “before anybody else.”

I think I am much more pessimistic than Bookchin, and I really liked this line: “We are still the offspring of a violent, blood-soaked, ignoble history–the end products of man’s domination of man. We may never end this condition of domination.” While Bookchin felt that it was possible to end that cycle through anarchy, I am not so certain.

Am I wrong to think so pessimistically of the human race? Give me some hope that we as a society can eventually move beyond “Ooh, shiny!” to some state of mind based on a better good.

3 thoughts on “ooh, shiny!

  1. I like your connection between hackathons and maker culture. I think this “need for speed” is indicative of our society in general. Fast cars are romanticized. Extroverted managers who come to decisions quickly are favored. Waterfall type management is discarded for more agile work flows. Iterations are quick and rapid. The need to come up with a brand new, novel, and brilliant idea makes sense in consideration of the very congested app marketplace; come with an idea before someone else does! I’d like to think there’s a time and space for “slow” living. A reflection of this in media technology is Norway’s Slow TV, which I think is very interesting:


    1. Haha, I have actually watched part of the Norway sheep-to-sweater show. It is fascinating, but I don’t think I could watch all of it!

  2. I couldn’t agree more about hackathons. I might even go further and suggest they’re an exploitive means for firms to fish for marketing data and product ideas.

    Like Andrew W I believe they’re indicative of the general fly-by-night attitude towards work and progress that’s developed in the last 50-60 years. Gone are the corporate research centers which focused on actual research. The stock market demands quarterly returns, so CEOs don’t think past the next quarter. Studies show that voters only care about one year previous when voting. Society’s time horizons continue to contract. Instead of placing us in-the-now, this collective focus on short term futures removes us further from the present.

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