First, a big thank you to all of you who took an interest in the subject and also the project and supported it. It was great. Although we have decided to end the project as it is (webdocumentary) we’ll publish on the blog our findings in Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Our hope is to have opened the road for others, given ideas, and awakened interest in these great communities of people. Go and meet them if you pass by Cairo, Algiers and Tunis !
Ex-Owni.fr journalists, Sabine Blanc and Ophelia Noor have been working on hackers issues for a few years from a social perspective. Sabine writes and enjoys eating meat while Ophelia takes pictures (videos) and would rather eat some tofu. They co-wrote an ebook on the history of hacking, Hackers, bâtisseurs depuis 1959 (Hackers, makers since 1959) postfaced by Mitch Altman.
Hackers in arab cities is a web-documentary series that will be released in June 2013. Meanwhile, you can follow our work in progress on this blog (in CC-by-nc-sa) and contact us by email : hackerscitearabe (at) gmail (dot) com
Here is our statement :
“After decades of tyranny, sanctions and war, Iraq has a better reputation for destroying things than building them. That’s why an Iraqi-American who’s trying to create the country’s first hackerspace believes it’ll take “irrational optimism” for Iraqis to remember they were among the planet’s first maker cultures.” Wired
Wrongly depicted as credit card thieves with no qualms, hackers are first and foremost ingenious folks who enjoy taking a system to pieces only to rebuild it to better suit their needs or that of the community (and yes, sometimes, they just do it for the lulz). Hackers make a creative use of technologies.
Often a hobby for the middle classes in our regions, hacking becomes a necessity in other places. Under the ruins of dictatorships and civil wars, some men and women are trying to rebuild their communities : from political and educational systems to the infrastructures, or the local economy, the tasks are as big as their inquisitive and creative minds
Our web-documentary will also try to show to what extent hackers in countries that have not been through a revolution yet are preparing for change. It will also question the definition of a hacker from one region to another, from one person to the next.
True to the hacker ethic, that is encouraging the sharing of all knowledge, some hackers in western countries support local initiatives in the MENA region (Middle East North Africa). Such is the case of Gemsi – cited in Wired’s article – an organization based in the USA that helps implementing hackerspaces.
Our reportage will follow a crescent line from Beirut (Lebanon) to Baghdad (Irak), and from Cairo (Egypt), to Tunis (Tunisia) as well as Algiers (Algeria) and Casablanca (Morocco). It will be text and photo based with interviews and DIY tutorials in video.
Mobile pic by Hélène Girard at La Cantine on june 29th 2012 during the event RIP MINITEL.