Speculations on the existence of the "scene" past and present: Why the old days are not gone forever

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Joined: 2013/02/25

Why does this need to be written? If you were a phreak or a hacker in the 1980s, that meant something. Let there be no question that I am not part of the old guard; the OGs who inspired the Internet generation. From what I understand the first groups spawned from the vulnerabilities themselves. Now things are quite different, in the time it takes the post office to send a letter I can acquire more technical information and software then any phreak could in their wildest fantasies. Unfortunately this is exactly the problem but that doesn't mean there can no longer be hackers of old, the mainstream is in here with us, and until we can change that culture we will need to recognize it exists and the danger it poses to our way of life.

In order to become a Phreaker you needed to have the skills necessary to understand the system and exploit. Bell Systems provided a culture and a blueprint for what was to come later 1(Exploding the Phone). Then obviously you have groups created and secret meetings necessitated by the attempted suppression and later criminalization of the use of such technology. The inherent difficulty of disseminating information about Phreaking at the time (Communication superhighways were nonexistent and Bell was suppressing any information regarding the vulnerability of their systems). The environment resulted in a specific kind of community or group. Consider for example what might have happened if Bell had hired any and all phreaks they found on the spot. With all the phreaks paid to secure the telephone system the "underground" may not have existed. Fortunately for the mechanical culture of Bell such a thing would have been considered very preposterous.

On the other hand by comparing something like Skunk Works to the phreakers a similarity is revealed. Both groups of people were doing things previously unheard of with technology, shared a culture inherently distrustful of external control caused by the desire to follow one's own ideas rather than anyone else's, and created a great deal of government interest of the wrong kind. I argue that this culture made everything jive. Not because it was some kind of unreproducible panacea to the mainstream but because of the environment of the groups.

Fast forward; the networks expanded and technology is everywhere. Ideally hacker communities would grow and have same spirit as the did before. Even if they had different attitudes than their predecessors they would still have the spirit and the thirst for knowledge, right? From what I've heard, besides the word, Hackforums is the largest bulletin board system of its kind. Would you say that the first hackers who started all of this and created an entire culture from scratch would approve of the knowledge and culture of that forum? Think about it. In my opinion if the majority of those people could measure up to the spirit of the past that would make me Linus Torvalds. I'm not sure what the general consensus is here regarding that forum but I do believe the majority of those people simply have no idea what the hell they're doing, and this is not a new idea.

The exclusivity is gone, without barriers allowing only those with prerequisite knowledge through, the "scene" is less like the Skunk Works and more like a noisy pub, dare I say an athro convention at midnight! One moment hackers and phreaks were excitedly discussing cool stuff amongst themselves, the next, everyone who could install windows was asking them questions. Hacker culture is a free thing, it isn't imposed on another. My culture didn't have the strength to convert the masses of the newcomers, fragile and reclusive as it was. A new dominant culture emerged on Internet from the vices of the mainstream. New communities that were created were either doomed to the control of the market (Youtube, Facebook, HackForums) or had to be obscure enough to avoid mainstream influence. The result was a paradox for traditional community growth, communities of value became popular, which of course increased the population, finally market culture would reach the forums and IRC boards, social status surpassed the original purpose of the forums. What was left was a steaming pile of shit. If real hackers are going to take any responsibility for these people (besides wiping them off the map) they would need to become full time teachers. Educating the public is not an easy task, especially for people who stereotypically would rather mess around with some new fangled puter all day then get head trauma playing football. More logically they wouldn't have the skillset to deal with massive crowds of the ignorant. Typically this resulted in a mass exodus of valuable members in the community. In my personal experience I recognized my very dear forum where I got my start BM gradually degrade into a skid fest governed by attention whores. This brought me here.

They didn't need to know any more than a toddler does to join us. Maybe as a result most cared little to develop the skills we had simply because they didn't need to. Perhaps this is why the Free Masons existed, not as a cult in league with Satan hell bent on destroying the United States, The Pope, and good Chinese food but rather it existed to prevent those stupid peasants from asking annoying questions. We aren't necessarily the ones who can teach people what we know, but we sure as hell should tell the people teaching code to shape the hell up and not allow any DRM shenanigans and tell the people who distantly make the rules to leave them the hell alone.

I believe that for creative and truly meaningful communities to exist on the public Internet, while retaining the same kind of benefits a forum enjoys by this kind of accessibility in terms of the spread of information and new ideas, it must acknowledge that the predominant culture is inherently detrimental to intellectual development, simply because it provides cheap emotional thrills at no personal effort. Which could mean that the kinds of people with the greatest advantage possess the ability to ignore these distractions with ease, such as say, someone working for the military. It is not justifiable to say that this net culture was created specifically to disrupt the consciousness or intellectual development of its users. However, there is good reason to b

I think the culture of capitalism is ingrained too deeply within most new hackers. Instead of fully exploring the systems or exploits the find, they are more interested in finding some way to profit than anything else. Money, not knowledge is the desire of some of these hackers. Hacking became a commodity. For example, Hackforums is devoid of any information that could be useful in real learning. Fortunately I can buy 50 bots for $5 and my own "booter" for less. Apparently prostituting oneself to 8 year old boys is acceptable these days. Don't get me wrong, the forum has plenty of information, it is more of a chore and a mental hazard to pick through all the shit for gold nuggets. There are prepackaged tutorials and downloads. There are descriptions of different queries to perform an SQL injection with no explanation of how SQL actually works, get rich quick ebooks sold for $5 or less, widespread social intrigue as to who is the best hacker/ has the most points, and other shit I don't care about. The problem is all of these things look approachable and very real to an outsider. Like the lure from an angler fish they entice people genuinely interested in "what those nerdy kids that one day were doing which was cool" and the genuine hard work required. Newcomers either realize very quickly what a piece of shit Hack forums is, or they are drawn to the social-rather than intellectual- stimulation. The innocent are quickly converted to mindless drones, much like zombies swarming from the gates of hell with crappy exploits and .NET utilities.

Where would I even start learning about computers these days? Most every path that requires real effort has an easy out. Understanding the mental necessity of doing things the hard way was not something my predecessors shared. Doubly so for the original hobbyists building computers, the fun was in the project, in some ways that magic was lost. If I was just a kid and didn't know what I do now why use this alphabet soup of operating systems when I can install Microsoft(tm) in a couple clicks? (and I can play Crysis 2)

If a kind of discipline is required to learn in the way of the old hackers, the environment is completely different so while it may create the same skill set the resulting individual will not be the same. I don't really know how new hackers compare to older hackers, I can infer differences, but there should be distinctions in the general population caused by their environment if my theory holds true. (if you would like to talk about your experience feel free to PM me, I've tried posting on Hackforums but I didn't find any hackers :'C).

Does being more interested in making money with technology than understanding it allow anyone to stay true to the hacker spirit? At the very least, it changes priorities. Good business means exploitation. If hackers buy into this market mentality they ultimately become the villains selling the kids their toys. Making money can change the way a person perceives life. It means a certain loss of integrity and change of spirit. It seems to me that selling information or knowledge shames the value of what is true and real. At some degree of capital exploitation these kinds of people can't really be called hackers at all. At some point people selling 0days or software should not be considered any different then a telco or bank.

The same goes for todays security researchers. The inherent contradiction of their work and their process of one that is inherently creative and the other which is regimented and designed to make money at the expense of all else. Or maybe they become more like the managers and employees of Bell which lead to a drastic lack of creativity and willingness to maintain the status quo. As long as there are companies interested in money rather than sharing technology, information, and manpower, their motives and culture will never let white hats do their job like someone who genuinely wants to get into your computer with all their heart and change your wallpaper to something horrible.

The mainstream corrodes our consciousness because it was created to make a buck and not to help people. The environment which created computer hackers is gradually being subsumed by the mainstream through the increasing accessibility of technology. The real spirit is obscured because it was created from isolation. Intentionally or not, technology is distracting people from most of reality to the point where most people aren't even curious about how it works. Logically computers exist; therefore they are part of reality. The problem occurs when they only show us the parts other people want us to see. Were you listening to me, Seeker? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress? While people (mostly working in advertising) are more than willing to describe the merits of redirecting public attention, the danger isn't what it does but what it does not. You can't think if you're distracted by irrelevant trivia or whatever else the majority of the populace cooks up. This insidious creation is everywhere. Advertising, social control, and models of success are all dictated by the ruling elite. There are very rational reasons this works as it does. People only want money or are affected by other people only want money and they're damn good at it. Subsequently people with power (things other people value, like money, breasts, or value) are looked up to by others, etc.

Maybe we should look at the past, Signaling Systems for Control of Telephone Switching in the Bell System Technical Journal specifically, I haven't personally read it, but I know its history, its a scientific paper with no direct emotional hooks like other things that most people actually want to read (Twilight AAGGHH, The Hunger Games UCKKK, Harry Potter zzzzzz). Scientific journals as far as knowledge goes are the best sources on the planet second to actually performing an experiment yourself. If we describe what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what it means philosophically to such sickening detail that no normal person would want to read it we will annihilate most of the issues involving hacking entirely. Imagine making the Chinese intelligence service have to learn about your exploit and then translate it in 200 pages. Our minds are efficient while they remain bogged down in bureaucracy. If we tell people the full truth and nothing but the truth in its full multifaceted entirety they will either be smart enough to understand what we are saying, identifying themselves as one of us, or be bored to tears and leave.

A word of caution where black and white lines appear to be drawn; much of this is seen through many lenses but spoken with a single voice. I don't know what it was like hacking systems in 1985 but I can see that things have changed, that does not mean it isn't the same game, there are just more players.

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