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Subversion, Conversion, DevelopmentCross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design$
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James Leach and Lee Wilson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027168

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027168.001.0001

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When Technology and Politics Assemble into Subversion

3 (p.39) Freifunk
Subversion, Conversion, Development

Gregers Petersen

The MIT Press

The chapter traces the lines that weave together wireless technology and subversive politics in Berlin, Germany. It examines a new wireless networking paradigm, and the creation of a free information infrastructure by a social structure known as Freifunk, or ‘free broadcasting’. Freifunk came into being from a background of political/technical (h)activism, squatters movements, and the re-merging of the two halves of Berlin/Germany. Tracing the development of the Freifunk network, the chapter argues that technology choice is both political action and a process of constant re-creation of society. The chapter shows the ways in which frictions between available technical models, forms of social organization and cultural values are productive of new effects. The subversion of wireless networking devices by the ‘DIY’ community in Berlin led to the development of a new networking paradigm and a free alternative mode for digital infrastructure. The Freifunk movement became a conduit for new cultural and technological expressions, and in doing so worked to subvert the hegemonic structures of (techno)society and expand a politics of subversion.

Keywords:   Wireless technology, Information Infrastructure, Freifunk, Technology Choice, DIY Networking, Subversion

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