It’s a Modder’s World

Modding is an age-old human urge and an exploding creative trend
that’s rattling the nuts and bolts of mass culture. It may
primarily call to mind the alteration of technological devices and
systems, but modding’s reach extends far beyond a desire to mold
modern technology to an individual’s needs.
Andy Oram of the
O’Reilly Network
broadens the definition to include
social activists and anyone altering systems to effect change.

Humans have been transforming others’ inventions for thousands
of years. But the contemporary face of modding is different, Oram
argues, because modders are now coming together and finding a sense
of community in the shared activity. This community gathers on the
internet, participating in collaborative software development and
digital music projects, and sharing project how-tos on DIY-themed
blogs. The magazines
Make and
ReadyMade serve
as hubs for modders who can find ideas within their pages, and in
the case of Make,
on its blog
.

Modding isn’t just about tinkering away at computer systems and
devices. For many, it’s a way to make technology more
environmentally friendly. (Check out

Don Dunklee’s electric scooter rigged to run on solar power
,
for example). And for others, it’s a way to push the boundaries of
copyright law. A number of activist modders are asserting their
cultural voices on the web and in books that address the
philosophical aspects of modding culture, including
McKenzie
Wark’s A Hacker Manifesto
, and
Lawrence
Lessig’s Free Culture
. Modders, including Lessig, have
pushed for an alternative to traditional copyright law, founding
Creative Commons
licensing
, the ‘some rights reserved’ answer to traditional
copyright law’s ‘all rights reserved.’

Though some modders limit their interests to personally tailored
technology, others are trying to make a dent in the culture that
created it. Oram hopes that modders can be an inspiration to other
creative types who want to find new solutions using the data
available to us every day.

Go there >>
Control Freaks:
Modding and the Clash with Law

Go there too >>
Make

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