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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hacker or Virus (computer) (12/15/11)

TITLE: In Defense of Hackers
By Cheryl von Drehle
12/29/11


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Lawbreaker or innovator? That was a major question surrounding Jesus’ activities in the first century. The question continues to taunt those operating outside perceived legal boundaries. Power brokers of the day often erect these restrictions to protect their own kingdoms. In Biblical times the Pharisees supplemented God’s law with strident rules by which they proceeded to indict Jesus.

While Jesus’ credentials are infinitely superior over other accused lawbreakers, it is nevertheless an intriguing question to apply in a variety of current situations.

Hackers: lawbreakers or innovators? A little research can challenge our common view of hackers. Perceptions are often determined by whose lens is providing the view rather than objective consideration of the matter. The corporate lens sweeps wide. It rightly condemns those breaking into corporate proprietary software without permission. However the image blurs when focusing on the murkier gray picture of the world wide web.

Innumerable lawsuits have been filed, won, lost and settled over what is “free shareware” and what is proprietary, i.e., owned exclusively by a specified party. New concepts and vocabulary have emerged from the legal wrangling and ethical tussles. And thus a new term has been added to the computer world lexicon: “crackers” are defined as those who destructively access private computers for malicious purposes.

On the other hand, hackers claim their designation should be applied only to those who bend or break the “rules” of computing but not the law. By their backdoor activities, mind boggling code wizardry, and demonstrations of lax computer security, they bring fresh ideas, new ways of thinking, and an ever evolving explosion of next generation technology.

The most widely known and respected computer whiz who started as a rule bending hacker is probably Stephen Wozniak, the genius partnered with Steve Jobs in the Apple start up. Should the “Woz” be in prison or on the cover of Time Magazine? A quick google search will uncover a myriad of such gray area dwellers who have become the outstanding tech leaders of their generation only to be replaced by newly spawned hackers with dazzling new gadgets.

Hackers: turns out to be not such an easy question.


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This article has been read 295 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sydney Avey12/30/11
You turned this subject on its ear in a well researched, respectful, thoughtful way. A concrete example of a hacker's specific contribution would have made this even more compelling.
Allison Egley 12/30/11
This is interesting. I supposed that context needs to be considered, but I would think "good" hackers could share their discoveries before actually getting involved with illegal activities. It's certainly something interesting to think about.
CD Swanson 12/30/11
This was a pretty intense entry. Very interesting and totally on topic. Nice job.
God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/04/12
I enjoyed this. It is thought provoking. It's also the only entry that looks at the genius of hackers. Not all do it to steal or break the law but for pushing the limits to make the world a better place.
Linda Goergen01/04/12
This was well written and gives one a lot to ponder...but to me a hacker is plain and simple, a cyber criminal. And it is a shame that any were rewarded for criminal behavior.