Hacking Rhetoric

Day One

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Hello, I am James Maclain Pinkerton from Katy, Texas, and I don’t really care what name I’m called. I’m a sophomore and I used to be an Architecture major but it was too depressing, so now I’m undeclared…


I don’t exactly remember how I ended up in this rhetoric class in particular, but I do know that the topic of hacking has always seemed like a kind of mysticism to me, inaccessable to anyone who can’t talk to the little bits of silica and sand in the microchips that I assume make up the inner workings of computers. Motherboards and microchips and fans and internal combustion engines? I look forward to learning the art of talking to sand, and figuring out how coding works beyond my very limited knowledge of screwing around on graphing calculators. I have had relatively broad exposure to what it means to be a hacker and what it looks like to be a hacker because I read things like XKCD on the internet and I have known people who were gifted in the art of sand-speaking. The most memorable example of this was a kid I knew from summer camp, named Evan. He was one of those people who had busted the knowledge plateau of computer proficiency and could, with enough time and effort, do literally anything. He told me stories of how a girl from his school egged his house so he remotely connected to her laptop and turned off the fans inside while running high-memory applications in the background til her computer started shooting out flames from the exhaust ports. Hearing this story from anyone else, I would have doubted it, but I’d seen proof of his prodigious abilities and I believe him. He, and other virtuosos like him, are the reasons that hacking instills such powerful feelings in me, images of terrible power and ruthless efficiency as well as dignified talent and unacknowledged dedication. I look forward to learning more about the motivation behind the people who make this their way of life, and all the applications of hacking, negative and positive both.


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