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IRC Is Not Dead: Towards Use-centric Media and Communication Studies

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 12:40 pm – 1:30 pm

Why do disruptive computational subcultures such as Anonymous, hackerspace members, Wikipedians or Free Software programmers use text-only old technology like Internet Relay Chat (IRC)? How is it possible that new media innovators reject whole generations of social media in favor of an old media from 1988? Internet studies are subjected to the rhythm of newly released social media – for this simple reason the social history of IRC and its contemporary use is crucial, and provides an example of critical social network studies. Looking at the affordances of IRC today opens the way for a critique of social media monopolies in order to refresh our historical horizon and point out possibilities for resistance.

Maxigas seeks answers to philosophical questions through empirical investigations from a broad Science and Technology Studies perspective. His research interests include the sociology of technology users; critiques of liberalism, capitalism and modernity; as well as the role of (classical) cybernetics in the intellectual trajectory and everyday practices of the human and natural sciences. He developed the twin concepts of unfinished artifacts and architectures in order to challenge ideological discourses around open technologies and collaborative production. He uses qualitative and quantiative methods such as historically informed ethnography, object biographies, and technical interrogation to investigate technoscientific and technopolitical controversies. His work on hacking addresses critique and recuperation in technological cycles; generations of shared machine shops; the contemporary significance of "old new media."

Maxigas earned master's degrees from ELTE-BTK in Aesthetics; Film History and Film Theory; English Language and Literature; and finally from CEU in Sociology and Social Anthropology. In 2015 he defended a doctoral dissertation on the peer production of open hardware in hackerspaces ("Unfinished Artefacts and Architectures") at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute of the Open University of Catalunya. He edited a thematic issue of the Journal of Peer Production on "Shared Machine Shops" with Peter Troxler, and published widely on the history, politics and sociology of hacking. He is member of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Peer Production. On the cyberpunk front he contributes to anarchist initiatives as a volunteer system administrator, coder, scanner, and plumber.