How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected maker and hacker communities? Have individual and collective DIY practices changed due to restrictions and requirements related to the pandemic? And, if they have changed, how?
Since early 2020, maker and hacker communities – in the UK and worldwide – have produced equipment supporting pandemic control and healthcare: ranging from masks and face shields even to ventilators. Feminist hackerspaces, such as the São Paulo-based maria[lab] published educational resources on digital surveillance and domestic abuse during the pandemic. Tech-political collectives, among them the German Chaos Computer Club, outlined requirements for digital contact tracing that would safeguard civic rights. At the same time, maker communities have been struggling to survive, with income severely affected: the latter is often based on membership fees and/or paid co-working space, and is in turn used to finance shared workshops and tools. Combined with the need for social distancing, work-from-home instructions, and economic hardship becoming a harsh reality for many during the last 2 years, these sources of income have been far from stable. How are such developments shaping the ‘state of the hack (and maker) space’ more broadly? And have maker and hacker communities fared differently under these circumstances?
The workshop takes stock of how the pandemic has affected making and hacking, has challenged and changed communal spaces, and creative and tech-political practices. It aims to relate these observations about the Covid-19 pandemic to research on hacking/making during previous crises, emergency situations, and/or otherwise challenging conditions. While avoiding pitfalls of tech-solutionist accounts and neoliberal celebrations of developments meant as makeshift solutions, the event hopes to shed light on the achievements and challenges experienced by DIY communities during the ongoing global health crisis.
Hosted by Tim Jordan (UCL) and Annika Richterich (Sussex)
The workshop was planned for August 2021, but has been postponed due to COVID-19. We’re currently looking into a new date, likely in April 2022, keep an eye on this space!
London, venue tba