[Converted from multipart/alternative]
At first I thought so too (trolling) but the angry tone and fact
that he reposted our CFP with his negative comments on his blog
(!) led me to believe it might be someone with some kind of
"issues", or at any rate he really hates computer crime.
FWIW, here are the responses from N Poor and then from Alex pasted
from the AOIR list:
David that view can continue to be promulgated because it's correct.
You see no real hacking from anonymous because they are not a
hacker group, although from time to time some of them are
involved in hacking. When you say "anonymous and other groups",
what other groups do you have in mind? (If you want to learn more
about anonymous, Biella Coleman does work on them, she's at NYU.
She even has a class on hacker culture and politics.
The items you list in the bullet points are not hacking, they are
either organized crime or government espionage.
The problem you are running into is one that hackers themselves
have run into, that is, of different definitions of the word
hack/hacker. Mostly in the mainstream media (news, movies,
television), it has a negative connotation (good for news, and
good for dramatic tension in movies). There have been suggestions
I've seen to call the criminal side of hacking either "cracking"
or "black hat hacking", while the legal side that most people do
but yet that few hear about "white hat hacking" (since if it's
legal it certain isn't of much interest to the news media and is
rather ho-hum for movies).
Hacking has a very old history (that the CFP does not touch on
enough to my liking). Early wireless telegraphy, young men with
their crystal radio sets transmitting over the ether, they were
hackers (since they had to build their sets and keep them tuned).
Early hot rodding was car hacking, and to this day car modding
has its own cultures, meetups, and magazines (and these days web
No hackers have been identified in the cases you mention since it
can be very hard, if not impossible, to identify perpetrators.
Not every non-computer crime is solved either. And when it's done
with the backing of the Chinese or American governments, that
simply won't happen.
The examples at the end of your email aren't hackers in the sense
of the CFP, they are organized crime syndicates who use
computers. Organized crime goes where the money is. There's money
to be had over the internet, in a variety of ways (bank
accounts, personal info, botnet creation), so of course that's
where they are now. It would be quite surprising if they weren't.
If you'd like to learn more about real hackers and hackerspaces,
there is, for instance, one a few blocks from where I live:
I've been there, and met the people there for an event they had
around the Debian conference. As you can see they have a variety
of classes for the public, so that people can learn more about
the computers they own and what they can do with them. Part of
the ethic, in my understanding, is that, "this computer that I
bought is mine, I'd like to play with it and see what it can do,
beyond what it does currently, beyond what the manufacturer says
I can do with it."
There are lots of examples of hacking all around you on the
internet. Most of the software that runs the internet is open
source, and, given the methods of open source programming, it's
all a hack, not in the sense of a kludge (somewhat badly hacked
together) but in the ethos of its manufacture. (Again we see how
the word "hack" has multiple and conflicting meanings.) Linux is
a total hack, which has been well-detailed elsewhere so I won't go
over it here (but I'd suggest Torvalds's book, "Just For Fun").
Basically, Torvalds wanted to do something else with his
computer, so, he did it. He hacked his computer. Now Linux is so
mainstream that even IBM ran a advertising campaign that
consisted of spray-painting the Linux penguin on the sidewalks of
several cities (this was a few years ago, the cities were
generally not amused). Because Linux is so mainstream (relatively
speaking), those not overly familiar with it probably don't
consider it a hack, but it is.
Ten years ago when I took apart two Intel boxes, bought some new
parts, and built a new computer (I went AMD if anyone is curious)
and then installed Linux on it (Red Hat or Slackware, I don't
recall), that was hacking (installing back then was terrible!).
When someone took a version of Linux and stripped it down to boot
off of a floppy (which I used to make a router), that was hacking.
Even the titanium screw I have in my jaw is essentially a hack, a
biological one. (It's part of a crown, but that's a long story
that involves the summer of 1972 and a springer spaniel.)
Hacking is all around us. Always has been, always will be, even
if the mainstream news uses the term for the more negative side
of its meaning. Hacking (not the organized crime side of it) is a
form of play, which is why it is a part of who we are -- see
Brown's "Play", an excellent book -- he's an MD who is a play
researcher -- I liked it so much I'd advise everyone read it:
Brown differentiates nicely between rough play (in children) and
violence, which I think is a decent parallel here between what I
call hacking (play) and organized crime (violence).
Hopefully now you have an idea that there is this whole other
component to the word "hack" that the CFP is, quite correctly,
talking about, but one that is almost never covered in the news
(it does get touched on from time to time in movies and on TV,
I tend to agree with Nat, but I'll note that arguments over what
hacking "is" seem to me to be as useful as whether or not Apple makes
There has been a battle over the term itself for decades. Looking at
how that term has been deployed as an identity marker is more
interesting, but it's surprising to see it played out here. We all
know better than to accept that "hacker" is a stable term.
There can be little doubt that--for a number of reasons--the word
"cracker" has never caught on. So "hacker" means different things to
different communities. I suspect that most of the people on this list,
having been involved in social computing for some time, are more
likely to associate the term with the definition in the call and
perhaps the longer history that Nat relates. Get a group of
journalists in a room, and they will likely draw the connotations
David has made, to groups that trespass (though this is a loaded term)
on computing systems.
Not only is Anonymous a difficult case to classify as a "hacker" group
of either stripe (the borders between hit web site, virtual sit-in,
and DDoS is hardly clear), that's truer of hacking than many would
like to admit. Yes, most of the cases like those David lists are acts
perpetrated by organized crime, national governments, organized crime
in the service of governments, governments in the service of
corporations, etc. But they are often perpetrated by individuals who
might otherwise consider themselves "hackers" and might in some
contexts be considered as such by others.
It seems the main question is not the types of skills one has--anyone
skilled at computing should be able to discover and exploit
vulnerabilities in a security system, for example--but how they are
employed. So, if you look at the introduction to the MIT lock-picking
manual, or go to a Makers Faire session on picking locks, the ethics
surrounding such breaches are at the fore. Asking journalists to draw
a distinction between "white hat," "black hat," and "gray hat" hacking
seems even more doomed then getting them to use the term "cracking."
I don't think we can fault the call for using "hacking" as a term of
art frequently used within academic communities studying social and
technological systems. Nor do I think there is anything wrong with
exploring "hacking" as the term is used in other discourse
communities. But I think arguments over how the word *should* be used
are both silly and ultimately irrelevant.
----- Original Message -----
From: Alex Halavais <alex halavais.net>
Date: Friday, June 17, 2011 9:39 pm
Subject: Re: [jox] Tr : Re: [Air-L] CFP: Expanding the frontiers of hacking
To: journal oekonux.org
FWIW, I think it was a troll. Someone answered, I replied to try to
strike a conciliatory tone. The original poster wrote to say
us read enough to understand, and that was the end of that :).
On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM, Athina Karatzogianni
<athina.k gmail.com> wrote:
[Converted from multipart/alternative]
that was i *wouldnt *worry about the comment, sorry
On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 8:14 PM, Athina Karatzogianni
Hi ye all
I ve written about the ethical debate in hacktivism myself on
my chapter on
http://works.bepress.com/athina_karatzogianni/4/, but also a good
reference here, and I think it takes a wonderful take on the
issue is *Graham
Meikle* (2008) 'Electronic Civil Disobedience and Symbolic
Athina *Karatzogianni* (ed.) *Cyber-conflict and Global
I would worry about the comment, if I have to be honest, the
made it sounds a bit too ignorant about the debates Gabriella
too, and I am sure the call is taking a specific side to this
and it is more
than obvious for those in the know. You dont have to explain
ignoramus. Whoever gets it, gets it. Better still whoever
doesnt, will stay
On Fri, Jun 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM, Gabriella Coleman
<biella nyu.edu> wrote:
On 06/17/2011 01:09 PM, Stefan Merten wrote:
3 days ago Mathieu ONeil wrote:
We've been counter-spammed! I dont know if this warrants
a response -
could be a troll - or just point out that it is a
A note pointing out the difference between hacking and
have been useful probably...
I tend to prefer to hightlight the fact that there are
tensions among hackers about what is appropriate in hacking
just draw a neat line between hacking and cracking. There
transgressive acts in the history and contemporary face of
would not simply place in the cracker category for example.
just highlight the internal debates among hackers as a way
Gabriella Coleman, Assistant Professor
NYU, Department of Media, Culture, & Communication
On Leave 2010-2011, The Institute for Advanced Study
Dr Mathieu O'Neil
Adjunct Research Fellow
Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
College of Arts and Social Science
The Australian National University