Hacktivsim - A New Hope?

From ricardo dominguez <rdom@thing.net>
Date Sat, 19 Aug 2000 07:44:36 -0400

[: hacktivism :]

Hacktivsim - A New Hope?
Presented at Hackers2000, NYC
by Dan Orr - 08/16/2000
[thing reviews]
Same Old Story 
    History is full of examples where a group with specialized knowledge was
   feared and reviled by a public who simply did not understand them. During
   the Renaissance, alchemists early experiments with chemistry were viewed
   as heresy or the scams of unscrupulous con artists. Many were accused as
   witches in colonial America they espoused controversial political views
   such as equality between the sexes, the separation of church and state, or
   religious toleration. Others were branded because of their knowledge of
   folk remedies or the medicinal properties of herbs. Arthur C. Clarke's
   often cited "third law" states that: "Any sufficiently advanced technology
   is indistinguishable from magic," and in the 21st century, computer hackers
   have joined the ranks of alchemists and witches as a stigmatized group. 
   A recent poll by the San Jose Mercury news, taken during a recent wave of
   denial of service attacks against prominent websites, suggests fear of
   hackers is based on a lack of knowledge about the online world. Fearful
   non-Internet users outnumbered fearful Internet users by nearly two to one.
   Despite several prominent hoaxes, such as reports that hackers seized control
   of a British media satellite and endangered the lives of NASA astronauts, 
   the media has found little motivation to correct public misconceptions about
   hackers. Broadcasts and newspapers are rife with stories such as: "A Cyber
   Pearl Harbor? Next Devastating Sneak Attack May Come from Hackers Not
   Warplanes" and "Hacker Steals 300,000 Credit Card Files from CD Universe." In
   an era of shrinking audiences and an increasing media outlets, fear grabs
   readers and tunes in viewers. DouglasThomas, a professor of Journalism at
   the University of Southern California notes: "Most stories about hackers are
   rife with hyperbole and, more often than not, omissions of context or fact
   that would give a more balanced and less alarmist perspective." Nor is
   Thomas alone in his assessment. Online Journalism Review columnist Matt Welch
   has suggested hysteria over hackers demonstrates a significant decline in
   journalistic standards, and "show the decisive new role being played by
   people who would have never been called 'journalists' three years ago." Other
   reporters have offered even harsher critiques of their colleagues. In a
   1997 analysis of Internet media coverage, Wired columnist Brooke Shelby
   Biggs observed: "There are quite literally so many arrogant idiots
   covering the Internet for traditional media that if I wrote about them and
   them alone, I could fill up my 1,000-word space daily by citing their
   inaccuracies, misleading statements, and fear-driven bias and paranoia one
   by one." If someone claimed they had hacked the sky and could make it fall
   the press would report it. The truth is there are about as many computer
   hackers engaged in cybercrime as there are witches who worship Satan.
{A Scene from Electronic Disturbance Theater's soon to be staged work
*Hacktivism: network_art_activism - A Play in 11 Acts* from Autonomedia Press}

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