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Re: <nettime> What were the first instances of hacking 4
t byfield on Wed, 6 Jul 2016 17:27:20 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> What were the first instances of hacking 4


This is a great question. I guess you've used the bog-standard method of looking it up? Etymology is pretty old-fashioned, I know, but you never know what you'll turn up -- like the Oxford English Dictionary's attestations of the phrase 'blow the whistle' in P. G. Wodehouse (1934) and Raymond Chandler (1953). Granted, two examples are a pretty flimsy basis for constructing a theory, but already there seems like there might be a divide between one sense (British?) of announcing/introducing -- think regimental assemblies -- and another (American?) of a cop interrupting a crime and/or calling attention to it. Both of those are images are overflowing with evocative suggestions of space, how it's organized, and the place of different kinds of agency in it. Note the ambivalent present of, let's say, *the state*: blowing a whistle serves to mobilize or synchronize scattered activity or attention. There are many lots more interesting examples. My hunch is that you'll find the phrase paces the rise of a regulatory state bureaucracy.

The default examples are Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, of course, but -- really surprising, IMO -- the OED's definition 1(b) for the verb "to leak out (fig.)"...

	to transpire or become known in spite of efforts at concealment

...is based on several citations dated 1832-1884, most of suggest or mention the ur-medium: rumor. As with many things, I think it's less a question of progress (say, in terms of novel ways to disseminate ~privileged knowledge in documentary form) than of forgetting that leaks and whistleblowing, under other names, are also probably the oldest 'media.'

Just to be clear, my point isn't to reaffirm some grumpy insistence that nothing has changed -- everything has.

Cheers,
T

On 6 Jul 2016, at 9:01, Gabriella "Biella" Coleman wrote:

   Hi all,

I am writing a piece that is trying to historicize direct action
hacking/whistel blowing and am trying to pin point any early examples
of hackers hacking in order to access and then leak the
information/emails to ex pose wrong doing..
<...>

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