Hack #4: Repair

This hack builds on the work of Richard Sennett and Steven Jackson, asking you to take something broken and give it an afterlife. The broken object might be technologically sophisticated (like an old phone or obsolete software) or it might be completely non-digital (for example, torn clothing or a broken record). And “afterlife” can likewise encompass a range of meanings. You might perform what Sennett calls a “dynamic repair”—changing the object’s function or jumping epistemological or ontological domains (Sennett 200). Or you might create something that delves into the object’s past and possible future, exposing its “secret history of breakdown, maintenance, and repair” (Jackson 226). Either way you should be mindful of what you can learn by fixing that you can’t know from simply using.


This project may be solo or with a partner. As usual, you’ll create an exhibit on your domain that includes an individual artist statement of about 1,000 words. In this statement you’ll delve into the more philosophical elements of your hack, enacting what Jackson calls “broken world thinking”—taking “erosion, breakdown, and decay, rather than novelty, growth, and progress” as your starting point for thinking about technology, ethics, and care (Jackson 221).

In addition to the repair itself and the artist statement, you should also document the development of your hack. Post still images, short videos, sketches, etc. onto your domain.

  • Be prepared to talk for 3 minutes on March 21 about what you are working on for this project.
  • The project is due on March 28. We’ll present the projects in class and the digital representation and artist statement are due by Monday, April 1.


I’ll approach your hack using the following criteria:

  • Unexpectedness (the extent to which the project defies expectations or produces surprising results or reactions)
  • Craft (the degree of style, technical virtuosity, and craftiness, as well as digital representation)
  • Intention (the sense of intentionality and deliberateness of the work)
  • Theme (the level of engagement with the concepts of repair and the ethics of care)
  • Argument (the degree to which your project enacts “broken world thinking”)

Works Cited

Jackson, Steven J. “Rethinking Repair.” Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society. Ed. Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A. Foot. MIT Press, 2014. 221–240.
Sennett, Richard. The Craftsman. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.