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Internet Relay Chat

Internet Relay Chat, invented in 1989, is what I like to call the original social network. Considered primitive my today's standards,  geeks and hackers all over the world still widely use IRC to congregate, socialize, organize, and labor. Along with other technology and conference spaces, it functions as what sociologist of social movements call "free spaces" like radical book shops, bars, block clubs, and tenet associations. Generally these are "settings within a community or movement that are removed from the direct control of dominant groups, are voluntarily participated in, and generate the cultural challenge that precedes or accompanies political mobilization."1 The vibrancy of hacker politics is contingent on the plethora of hacker/geek based free spaces such as IRC where these technologists can autonomously come together to associate and discuss the range of political and ethical issues that shape and constrain their craft.


Participant: Gabriella Coleman
Art History and Communications Studies | McGill University
Presentation: "Weapons of the Geek"