Talk: Jan Gerber
and Sebastian Lütgert

What hackers do

Salt Galata

June 5, 2014 19.00

SALT Galata, Workshop II-III

“There are worse things than having people misunderstand your work. A worse danger is that you will yourself misunderstand your work.” Paul Graham, “Hackers and Painters”, May 2003.

Today, computer programmers occupy a mythical place in public perception. They embody the revolutionary potential of disrupting a social order within which they themselves have implemented the most dystopian components, and their glamor arises from a combination of the most unglamorous social clichés. They run the world, they can bring it to a
halt, yet most of their work is fully opaque to non-programmers. Hackers for hire are usually employed as “software engineers,” “information architects,” or mere internet plumbers, but their modus operandi doesn’t seem to align with any of these traditional disciplines, and many software projects both originate and result in misunderstandings so grandiose that they often go entirely undetected.

This talk takes a closer look at what hackers do when they do what they do, and attempts to derive a few utopian yet practical proposals for how programmers and non-programmers can collaborate. While the former is mostly concerned with establishing a historical perspective, the latter may come with a certain sense of urgency.

The talk will be held in English.

Jan Gerber is an artist and software developer from Berlin. He develops internet platforms for the production and distribution of video material, such as,,, He has initiated research and public events on questions of intellectual property and piracy in projects such as Pirate Cinema and The Oil of the 21st Century. He works on the free and open video codec Ogg Theora and related tools ffmpeg2theora and Firefogg.

Sebastian Lütgert, artist, programmer, writer, co-founder of Bootlab and Pirate Cinema, and lives and works in Berlin. He has co-initiated a number of projects on intellectual property, cinema and the internet, including the cinema archive, the project, and

Supported by the Goethe-Institut Istanbul