[hackerspaces] Let's end the unnecessary joining of the words "food" and "hacking"

Lisha Sterling lishevita at gmail.com
Wed Jan 29 12:32:11 CET 2014

Jumping into the discussion realllllllly late, but since I didn't see my
favorite definition of hacking and since I haven't seen anyone point out
how fucked up the exclusionary definition of hacking is, I'm going to go
ahead and jump...

So, first off, the definition of hacking that I always share with people in
my talks is the one given by the hacker Jude Milhon who was hacking from
the late 1960s until her death in 2003:

"Hacking is the clever circumvention of imposed limits, whether imposed by
your government, your IP server, your own personality, or the laws of

In the context of food hacking, I'd like to suggest that at least some of
the imposed limits are those of culture. Food ways are a major aspect of
culture. There is also a technical aspect of food hacking which has to do
with chemistry and physics.

Moving on to the issue of exclusion, please remember that the ones who
limited "hacking" to unauthorized use of computers were movie makers,
journalists and politicians, especially in the hysteria after the success
of the movie War Games in the 1980s. The community of hackers has been much
wider and more diverse than that from the start.

As for the question of whether a thing is hacking or not, do not ask only
what the activity is, but what the philosophy and intent behind the
activity may be. It's the "food hacker" or "civic hacker" or "textile
hacker" subverting a dominant paradigm? Are they pushing their area of
activity beyond the usual boundaries? Are they, in the process of doing
that activity, adding to their own knowledge and understanding of how the
thing works, having at least sometimes bent the thing so far out of shape
to break it? (For how else can you know the difference between real limits
and artificial ones?)

Let's keep hacking food, at Noisebridge and beyond.

- Lisha Sterling
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