Exploring 'hacking', digital public art & implication for contemporary governance: The context of the UK 'Big Society' policy

Amadu Khan, Christopher Speed

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This article presents the application of the online (Internet) ‘hacking’ concept to community life and processes from two hypothetical contexts: First, it was hypothesised that technology could be 'hacked' into by disadvantaged communities to create a digital public art. Second, the community-generated digital art platform could in turn be used to 'hack' into images and memories to facilitate the sharing of conversations and identity, social engagement, and digital inclusion among residents. The article therefore presents how these contexts of the characteristics and practicality of online 'hacking' inspired the design and functionality of a community digital artwork in a disadvantage urban estate in Edinburgh, UK. In addition, the article considers the implication of the 'hacking' practices by and among disadvantaged communities for realizing the social action, social engagement and networked society goals of the UK Government's 'Big Society' policy. This is significant because the 'Big Society' agenda promotes an interactive networked culture that has transformative potential to connect citizens, build knowledge and continuous learning and regenerate communities at at time of economic austerity in the UK (Mayo & Steinberg, 2007; Speed, Khan & Phillips 2016). The article is presented as follows. The following section is the conceptual path-clearing. It traces the etymology and usage of the concept of ‘hacking’ from the techno-scientific domain. Section three makes an attempt at disambiguating the kinds of ‘hacking’ practices that are relevant to issues of community relations and processes. Section four presents the practical application of the 'hacking' concept that culminated in the social design of a physical digital public art, the 'totem pole'. In section five, the implications of 'hacking' for the 'Big Society' policy is considered. Section five provides suggestions for a research agenda that could generate future design interventions that are inspired by concepts associated with digital media culture and for realizing forms of contemporary governance such as the ‘Big society’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Information Science and Technology
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781522522560
ISBN (Print)9781522522553
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring 'hacking', digital public art & implication for contemporary governance: The context of the UK 'Big Society' policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this