an android modding
lecture + workshop

Avoiding the brick tries to frame the Android modding movement in a broader context of hacker activism, with the aim of giving a theoretical framework around this practice, that is mainly technical. Since 2009, groups of independent developers have been developing modified software for Android smartphones and distributing it for free in specialized forums. The purpose of this practice is to offer software support and counterbalance market trends such as planned obsolescence or the system privatization, used as a way to fuel trade and consumption. The project consists of a research, video lectures that analyze the movement, and a workshop focused on modding practice.

How has computational
luxury affected the
smartphone market?

In the decade 2007-2017, we witnessed a technological boost that conditioned the social, environmental and technological impact of this sector. The phone market was driven by a surplus of computing power that monopolized it. Communication has also been shaped around selling data, numbers, and the technical features of devices, fueling consumerist logic.

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How can users/citiziens
have agency over
the smartphone industry?

The practice of modding includes several procedures that allow you to have more control over your device. As we will see, some of these are hindered by manufacturers and involve limitations in the use and maintenance of the smartphone. Since all OEMs develop their products differently from the others, it's not possible to draw a standard procedure for modding each device.

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What values has this
movement given rise to
besides technical support?

Since 2020 the development of the hardware is slowing down since we reached a saturation of some features like the display density or the amount of RAM. The politics of computational luxury can no longer be perpetrated by manufacturers. Concerning the software, modding is not as popular as before because most of the brands try to keep their system closed blocking self customization practices.

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This publication resulted from research conducted
as part of the individual thesis project in the master
department Information Design at
Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands

April 2023

Simon Davies
Anna Engelhardt
Marco Ferrari
Dimitri Jeannottat
Silvio Lorusso
Gert Staal
Irene Stracuzzi

Written and designed by Marco Pagan

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