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[liberationtech] What's wrong with the kids these days? - On the moral decay of the Dutch hacker scene

Shava Nerad shava23 at
Tue Mar 26 15:57:02 PDT 2013

When I worked for Tor I was constantly told I did not "get" the hacker
scene by the 20-30 something hackers.

I am more or less a contemporary with rms and ESR.  In fact I danced to
Eric's flute in the halls of east coast US science fiction cons when we
were both still teens, and Richard took me Balkan dancing in 78 (still
teens) to pump me for advice on how to get in good with my best friend -
later I was the first publicist for FSF and he "fired" me for lack of
orthodoxy.  ;)

But the modern hacker scene at Schmoo and such often bothered me.  I
consider myself to have this unfashionable moral compass.

Arriving at Schmoo my first year with Tor a tall Raybanned dude sidled up
to me and said, "You're that little lady who's positioned Tor as a human
rights tool, aren't you?"

I smiled and turned to chat with him (I'd been briefed about introductions)
but he just chuckled deep in his throat and said, "*Good one.*"  Then he
turned and walked away.

Describing this moment it's hard to portray its impact.  I felt slapped,
dissed, and like I wanted to shower.  Like I had just been sexually
violated (he had that vibe) in a way that I couldn't identify but everyone
in the room knew.  There are some amazing personalities in this community.

But we are supposed to be all so so collegial.  Like it is parliament,
ikr?  We do a better job of staying cordial than most houses of parliament,
but then - what member of parliament is likely to do pentesting on a rival
if he or she gets pissed?

So perhaps someone will make a heartfelt appeal at CCC for ethical
hacking.  But there is less criticism of the darknet and moderate means of
ameliorating harm to society by net jerks without slippery slopes.

We nearly avoid education because we can't divide ethics from moralizing,
we don't believe we can block asshats who want to bury conversations
because someone will accuse us of suppressing unpopular speech...

We have no confidence in wisdom or judgement in our community.  We are so
bought into "operating without trust" that we can not have a real community
of trust.  And so we lost our children - no wonder - to the people who
offer unit cohesion and belonging.

Criminals and LE and jerks.  Not anarchists who can't engage their hearts
over time. Or engaging their words and reputations where it might risk them
looking like fools, or putting them at risk.

But in the US, very few people other than myself criticize Anonymous for
endangering naifs by not informing participants on consequences (while
organizers fully protect themselves) or creating a co-optable shell, or
ducking the definition of civil disobedience.  The lack of connection to
traditional activist methods in this ultimately weakens the strategy imo
and dooms the movement.

This strengthens anti-civil-libertarians at DHS and sets up the April
"cybersecurity" week in the House with more fodder than it needs.

Another example of a lost generation imo.


Shava Nerad
shava23 at
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