Hacking as an Entry to Agency

hacking collage

I have two weeks left to school (I know … long year) and we are working on two main projects now: an adventure short story and a unit on Hacking Literacies. Yesterday, I brought my sixth graders to the Hackasaurus XRay Goggles site, and we began playing around with the hacking tool. Of course, first we had a discussion (which we have been having all year) about how tools can help put more power (agency) into the hands of the user, so that they begin to see themselves as less consumer and more active producer when it comes to media (digital or otherwise).

We have had threads of conversations about the word “hacking” and the connotations that arise in culture now (that it is bad) and I spend time explaining how “hacking”  emerged first as a good thing — that folks want to share expertise with others and make the world a better place, and that one of the reasons why technology is what it is today is due to hackers in the Open Source world and beyond. (I also got a bunch of “awwwws” when I said that the XRay Goggles tool is an overlay and does not hack the original site, only makes a hacked replica.)

Then, they played around.

Some were hacking gaming sites; some were hacking our classroom site; some were hacking the Google homepage; some were at clothes shopping sites. The informal discussions were interesting, as they talked about how to parody companies and personalize sites. Today, I intend to continue this work, and I think I am going to bring them all to a single website (my brainstorm at 3 a.m. in the morning: the famous Tree Octopus hoax website) and have them be creative in their hack even as they examine why this is so famous a site.

We’ll see how it goes.

Peace (in the xray),

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