Preparing for Career Ex 2014 HackJam

Osamu IwasakiIt all begins tomorrow. This year we’ll be (hopefully) making and hacking a bit, which is a deviation from my past few yearly sessions and a bit of a challenge. Lately I’ve strayed away from, the hardware and technical aspects of things – focusing more on the social (storytelling) potential of digital media – but this session will return me to my roots in some ways. In prepping for the session I’ve re-visited my early days a bit, recollecting experiences with Hollis Frampton and learning assembly language programming for the 8088. But enough with the nostalgia.

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll introduce the gear we have to work with and form project groups. As always there are varying technical capabilities within the group of 20 kids.I think we’ve provided for that range of capabilities by including a fairly broad spectrum of tech to work with from littleBits to Raspberry Pi, we should be able to find a fit for everyone.

We’ll be updating as we go along over at

My motivations for shifting focus for this session comes from several directions, but the initial genesis can be found in the two paragraphs below (with (some) citations- maybe someday the two paragraphs will grow into a paper):

Working from a Freirean pedagogical foundation I propose enlarging the concept of literacy to include the literacy of hacking. The increasing ubiquity of technology, the pervasiveness of connectedness mediated by technology and the intentionally ‘black box’ quality of so much tech it is now imperative that youth can ‘read’ these technologies. The promise of technology as a method of empowerment necessitates a serious consideration of the ability of users to work with, as opposed to working on, new hardware and software. The literacies of hacking and making are fundamental to the development of technologies that increase freedom.

This process of reading and the development of these new literacies, should lead to a liberatory faculty – being able to re-mix, hack or make, new technology to allow for the emergence or creation of new worlds. These worlds are not predetermined by a corporation, but arise from the combination of imagination, technology and agency. The literacies of hacking moves users from passive and consumptive objects to active subjects (makers).


Blikstein, P., & Krannich, D. (2013, June). The makers’ movement and FabLabs in education: experiences, technologies, and research. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (pp. 613-616). ACM.

Blikstein, P. (2013). Digital Fabrication and “Making”in Education: The Democratization of Invention. FabLabs: Of Machines, Makers and Inventors. Retrieved from

Copeland, S. (2009). Digital Storytelling : A cross-boundary method for intergenerational groups in rural communities A study in rural England, 1–7.

Freire, P., & Macedo, D. P. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word & the world. South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey Publishers.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Mayson, S. (2013). People-Centred Desktop Design and Manufacture: a review of web enabled open source tools for localised community focused inclusive design. In Include Asia 2013: Global Challenges and Local Solutions in Inclusive Design (pp. 1-10). Royal College of Art.

Söderberg, J. (2008). Hacking capitalism: The free and open source software movement. New York: Routledge.

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