Douglas Thomas Hacker Culture

ISBN 13: 9780816633463

Hacker Culture

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9780816633463: Hacker Culture
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Douglas Thomas offers an in-depth history of this important and fascinating subculture, contrasting mainstream images of hackers with a detailed firsthand account of the computer underground. Thomas studies novels and films (Neuromancer, WarGames, Hackers, and The Matrix) and reveals contemporary views of hackers as technological wizards, high-tech pranksters, and virtual criminals. Thomas then examines the court cases of Kevin Mitnick and Chris Lamprecht to determine how hackers are defined as criminals. Thomas finds that popular hacker stereotypes express the public’s anxieties about the information age far more than they do the reality of hacking.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Silently navigating the virtual corridors of the global telecom networks, peeking into restricted files and generally causing mischief, hackers are the tricksters of the digital age. But although Hollywood and the publishing industry have long been fascinated by these technosneaks, they've nearly always overestimated hackers' malicious intents and technical abilities, argues Thomas, a professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. He attempts to set things right, steering a middle course between the alarmists, who perceive hackers as suburban terrorists of the new century, and the apologists, who want to see them as brave revolutionaries against a corporate/government assault on personal liberties. With a real affinity for his subject, Thomas uses hacker publications like 2600 and Phrack for most of his research, instead of the all-too-common procession of online security experts doing their best Chicken Little impersonations. Thomas avoids another trap of this genre by not letting hackers the publicity-loving, self-aggrandizing ones spout off at length about their skills and achievements. He presents a sober but sympathetic analysis, maintaining that, more often than not, hackers are simply playing around, testing a system's security just to see if it's sound: "[They] see themselves as educators about issues of security, fulfilling the same function as Consumer Reports." Though Thomas may rely too heavily on that old academic touchstone, Foucault, he has produced an intelligent and approachable book on one of the most widely discussed and least understood subcultures in recent decades.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Thomas (Univ. of Southern California; Cybercrime) traces the history and origin of hacker culture within mainstream society, the computer industry, and the media. In the first of the book's three parts, he describes the evolution of the hacker and the emergence of hacker culture, also discussing how films like War Games, Sneakers, The Net, and Hackers helped mythologize the image. Part 2 focuses on how hackers have been represented in the media, both within their own culture and to the outside world. Thomas also discusses publications such as 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, which provides insight into the political and social agendas of hacker culture, as well as the publication Phrack, which he contends has its finger on the pulse of hacker culture. In the last part, Thomas provides a judicial discourse on how hackers are defined legally and concludes by examining the cases of two hackers, Kevin Mitnick and Chris Lamprecht, who were prosecuted for their activities. Thomas effectively argues that the popular image of the hacker reflects more the public's anxieties about technology than the reality of hacking. Addressing general audiences in a readable, engaging style, his book would be of interest to students of communication and journalism. Recommended for public and academic libraries. Joe Accardi, William Rainey Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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