Friday, February 27, 2009

What is Hacktivism?

Since I am in my fourth year of communication studies, I have encountered the term “hacktivism” before. However, I never really paid attention to what it really meant. Wikipedia defines it well, and in a way that pretty much anyone should be able to understand while also making sure both sides of the controversy are explored. For those of you who don’t feel like following the link, hacktivism is basically the idea of taking the technology used in hacking and applying it for political ends. Hacking is usually a sticky term to discuss, as most people have a very negative idea of it even though that was not always the intention. Hackers are skilled in technology and originally were using that skill to get around the rules the administration (whatever you want to define that as - the government, the media, the "man") put into place. They had ethics that they recognized as they, like Spiderman, knew that with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately the new generation of hackers do not follow those ethics (I guess you could say they’re like the evil Spiderman in the third movie) and that is why there hackers are now cast in such a negative light.
When I was looking on the website the first thing that caught my eye was the title graphic, with the three different types of font and the caption “Exploit code, not people.” I think that four word phrase should define the entire hacktivism movement. I agree with hackbloc when they say that the whole point of the movement is to “use the technology in a way that is liberating” (as hackbloc describes it on their site). I don’t think that exposing personal information about someone is going to make a very good point, but showing in another way that you can get in and obtain that information is important for hacktivism.
I think that the hackbloc website does an excellent job of balancing technical info, like codes and whatnot, with issues that the average internet user has to encounter. Just on the front page for example, I skimmed the articles about making the site more secure, but read in depth about Facebook and how nothing is really as private as you think.
From just a few pages of the posts on the front page, I got a small sense of what exactly hacktivism is, as defined by hackbloc. They do have their mission up at the top which helps you realize why the articles that are posted are important. Hactivists want free information, internet and society, which comes across in the stories about Facebook and other stories about sites being hacked into.
I feel as though there is sort of disconnect between some of the stories. Even though they are well balanced in regards of technical and mainstream stories, which I appreciate, I think that it may go against the types of readers they want to attract. I think that the main visitors to this site would be those who are educated in hacktivism and have the skills to carry out the technological aspects of the movement. I also think that having stories from mainstream news sites (such as the one from ) could detract from the independence (in my opinion) of the site.
Everyone is going to have their own opinions on things, which I think is good when it comes to a site like this. Having many people be able to post stories should help everyone else keep an open mind about things.
Overall I think hackbloc does an excellent job of following their mission. They’re not the scary, misguided hackers who want to screw with the world and major corporations. These people feel as though they have a duty to the public to make sure that the technological world that we live in is safe and secure. Those groups who choose to screw with us are going to be the ones that hackbloc targets, on our behalf.

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