European Hacker Culture

I just started a new Open University course, most of the first few weeks is about the history of open source, mostly the book ‘Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution‘. Which was a nice refresher on open source even if its a little dated now but I do have to take issue with ESR‘s essay, A Brief History of Hackerdom, saying Europe had no equivalent culture to the Berkeley/MIT/Stanford.

Europe didn’t have the cheap local phone calls, so BBS‘s took longer to be come popular (which are documented in Jason Scott‘s great series) but I would say the demoscene and the cracker culture it grew out of was our starting point. Lots of (especially) game developers got their start in the scene and provided that same focus mostly around the Amiga. Giving european hackers culture a different style and shape.

Still little known outside graphics geeks and old 16bit people, as hacker culture has become more global, overshadowed by the current billion dollar Silicon Valley startup’s, the demoscene is still healthy and producing some wonderful art.