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<nettime> hacking 4 Whisteblowing digest [x2: byfield, coleman]
nettime's_dumpster_diver on Wed, 6 Jul 2016 20:35:01 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> hacking 4 Whisteblowing digest [x2: byfield, coleman]


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

     "t byfield" <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
     "Gabriella \"Biella\" Coleman" <enid.coleman {AT} mcgill.ca>

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From: "t byfield" <tbyfield {AT} panix.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> What were the first instances of hacking 4
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2016 13:33:40 -0400

Funny that your first message begins "I am writing a piece that is 
trying to historicize direct action hacking/whistel blowing" and your 
second begins "I am not looking to historicize the phrase or word 
whistleblowing or leak." :^) Of course I understand that there are (said 
to be) differences between words and things, and that there are 
different gradations of what it can mean to historicize a subject, if 
only for the practical goal of narrowing the scope of an argument.

I think you'd probably agree that one of the central themes in 
whistleblowing and leaks, even defined in strictly 'technical' terms, is 
the tension between what is and/or should be public. Those definitions 
have been changing with whiplash-inducing speed because of new 
technologies, shifts in governance techniques, the rise of intellectual 
property, etc -- the various fields within which whistleblowing and 
leaks are often technically defined. So one danger of *dehistoricizing* 
these kinds of actions is that it tends to accept as a given the 
'technical' apparatus (technological, legal, political) that treats 
these transfers of knowledge as a private crime rather than a public 
service -- which is the often the kind of broad belief that drives the 
messengers. (Obviously, I'm not suggesting your work has had that effect 
-- if anything, it's the opposite.)

But there isn't a neat distinction between big-H Historicizing and 
little-h historicizing. Activists like Erin Brockovich or Karen Silkwood 
probably meet most of your definitions, and Mordechai Vanunu probably 
does too If you look through publications like 2600 and Phrack -- or, 
before them, YIPL -- you'll find all kinds of liminal cases going back 
30-40 years that are partly electronic/computery and partly not. Ditto 
for many of the phreaks documented so brilliantly in Phil Lapsley's book 
_Exploding the Phone_.

Cheers,
T

On 6 Jul 2016, at 11:41, Gabriella "Biella" Coleman wrote:

> Hi Ted,
>
> I am not looking to historicize the phrase or word whistleblowing or
> leak though that no doubt would be interesting :) Hope someone takes
> that on.
 <...>

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Subject: Re: <nettime> What were the first instances of hacking 4
From: "Gabriella \"Biella\" Coleman" <enid.coleman {AT} mcgill.ca>
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 14:14:57 -0400

Hi Ted,

Sorry: all your points are excellent and I should have been doubly even
more clear. I am writing a very brief, policy report (3000 words) about
the legacy of Anonymous. I am simply making a pretty narrow and basic
claim that they are important for pioneering this narrow genre of
hacking-to-leak.. and I am not only looking not only at the technical
side of things but how important their publicity machine was for
popularizing the tactic.

Also your point about what is allowed to stand as public is important
for this case: journalists have been willing to report on the HBGary,
Sony Pictures, Hacking Team emails. Had they refused, these leaks could
been cast as purely criminal. So excellent point.

A larger more nuanced project would stand to benefit in all the ways you
have suggested.. and who knows maybe I or someone else will do that work
one day.

I am also for reasons having to do with space/time excluding what I do
think are super valid technical leaks that have been the bread and
butter of hackers and phreaks since they existed and also serve the
public interest.  And here I am thinking of everything from full
disclosure movement, to Goatsees' AT&T dump, to the release of PGP.

Biella


On 2016-07-06 01:33 PM, t byfield wrote:

> Funny that your first message begins "I am writing a piece that is
> trying to historicize direct action hacking/whistel blowing" and your
> second begins "I am not looking to historicize the phrase or word
> whistleblowing or leak." :^) Of course I understand that there are
> (said to be) differences between words and things, and that there are
> different gradations of what it can mean to historicize a subject, if
> only for the practical goal of narrowing the scope of an argument.
 <...>

--
Gabriella Coleman
Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy
Department of Art History & Communication Studies
McGill University
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, PQ
H3A 0G5
http://gabriellacoleman.org/
514-398-8572

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