The Matrix: MEME 3.02

MEME 3.02

The Cybernetic Education of a Hacker: the Genocide2600 story.

"I was in after school doing make up work in my chem class as usual when I noticed one day my teacher, Miss Ricker, entering grades through an Apple network using a fairly simple grade program. She wasn't very security minded and I used that as a window. Through a little use of "Social Engineering" I quick thought something up to ask her and walked up and started asking her info right when she was entering her login and password into the mac. I was looking down into my notebook and pretended to write stuff as I asked her, what I really did was write down her login and password."

--The cybernetic education of a Hacker, in MEME 3.02

"Hackers." The word means something different, depending on whom you ask. People at CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, might say, "a hacker is someone who breaks into computers." My great-aunt, who recently turned 91, associates hackers with people who drive taxis, from the days when a "hack" meant an unpleasant, or distasteful job. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, who was interviewed in MEME 2.04, calls himself a hacker. To him "hacking" means developing software in an open, collaborative environment, with a strong ethical sense of right and wrong. The New Hacker's Dictionary defines hacker as "someone who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary."

Hacking, hackers, hack-- whatever the form, these words are the Rorschach test of cyberspace: what you think hacker means says as much about you as it does about hackers. Are hackers good? Are hackers bad? It all depends on what definition of hacking you have.

In this issue of MEME, I send you one of the rare, lucid examples of a hacker memoir from the breaking-into-computers variety of hacker. The story is written by someone whose nom-de-hack is "Genocide," and is a founder of Genocide2600, a hacker-clan based in Alaska and the Northwest of the United States. The piece came my way via another hacker, named WiZDoM. He could well be the same person as Genocide, or not. That's part of this game-- uncertainty.

With hackers you can't be sure what's true, and what's not. Nor does it really matter. Hacker-tales are meant to be heroic. They are yarns, and this one's one of the best I've received in a long, long time. I think you'll enjoy it as well. A brief cautionary note: those readers who take umbrage at "curse words" should be forewarned, Genocide likes to use them. Spelling is left as received.

I make no moral judgment about this essay, other than to say breaking into computers is bad, and you shouldn't do it. You, however, may want to discuss the issues raised by Genocide's essay, and you're invited to do so in the MEME discussion area, on Electric Minds.

Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 16:42:43 -0800 (AKDT)
From: -=* WiZDoM *=-