Medieval hackers by Kathleen E Kennedy

By Kathleen E Kennedy

An open-access monograph studying the commonalities among glossy hacker tradition and those that sought to translate safe texts within the center Ages.

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29 Basically an abridgment of bread laws, the Statute of Winchester appears in several manuscripts and was printed through 1580: the laws it drew from were all part of an information commons that the initial developers mined in crafting this useful variant. In modern hacker parlance, the bread laws were common: translating them into English made them open, and they circulated freely thereafter. The ‘Statute of Winchester’ runs thusly: 27 Davis notes that the enforcement of the Assize was very much up to local officials and local interpretation (“Baking for the Common Good,” 488, 492).

21 22 MEDIEVAL HACKERS Archbishop Thomas Arundel’s laws outlawing the spread of the new English Bible (1407-1409). Chapter 4 recounts the struggle of hackers against the laws of Henry VIII’s administration (1509-1547) that tried to curtail the hackers’ new Bible translations. In a sense, Arundel and Henry VIII attempted to exert proprietary control over the Bible’s text and claimed a legal right to identify who would be allowed to copy the Bible or translate it into English. Today, translation is considered to produce a derivative work, and derivatives are protected under current copyright law.

Effectively he is a computer language translator. He works with databases written in old computer languages and writes patches (and more elaborate programs) that allow these old databases to be read by databases written in newer languages. Hidden from many of us, our contemporary digital culture is saturated with translation, and I go so far as to claim that late medieval England had a culture of translation also. What is surprising is that medieval translators express ideals similar to those of modern-day computer hackers.

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