Hacking Rhetoric

Artist’s Statement Sandbox Hack

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The person I had randomly picked to hack was Hayley. After she posted her first password hint, it was fairly easy for me to determine her password. All it took was a single Google search of her high school. I didn’t even have to click any further because the school’s mascot  showed up right away, on the first page of searches. Although her hint was very helpful, and we did narrow passwords down to a few security questions, I did pride myself a bit for getting into her blog so quickly! I can understand how real life hackers get that sense of accomplishment when they are able to get into a system.

Once I got into her blog, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I already felt guilty getting into her account and now I was supposed to mess with her work. I admit – it was a little bit unsettling. In my mind, this type of hacking always led to some sort of vandalism because we were altering their original thoughts and opinions.

After lots of scrolling through her posts, I eventually decided to hack her “Weekly Blog Post” on October 9th, where she discussed her thoughts about Anonymous. In the original post, she talked about how they started and some of the work they’ve done, including Wikileaks and their message to the Church of Scientology. For my hack, I changed some of her words to mean the opposite of what she was feeling. I made it appear as if she had heard about Anonymous and wanted to get involved, when in fact she said she had a negative perception about them. (I don’t blame her! They are creepy.) Anonymous, while known as a group of hackers, could be anyone. It’s an identity that anyone can adopt and use to get their ideas across. Average people, like Hayley, myself or anyone else in class, have the potential to become “Anonymous.” I guess that was what I was trying to show by hacking her blog to say that she was curious as to how to get involved. Anonymous can spark interest in anyone.

Another thing I did during my hacking was change all the areas where she referred to the Church of Scientology to the Church of Google. In my research, I found a short blog post on anonymoushackers.org, where they questioned whether or not Google and God were the same thing. A friend once told me about Googlism in the past and showed me a link that reasoned why Google was God. One of the proofs they presented was that Google is all knowing. (I have posted links to these sites on the hacked version of Hayley’s blog.) I thought to myself, while Googlism may seem like a silly concept, I’m sure there are supporters and believers out there. It could grow, just as the Church of Scientology has grown and even gained celebrity followers like Tom Cruise, as mentioned by Hayley in her original post. People invest their faith in a vast range of ways and can it gain attention very quickly, making it easy for groups like Anonymous to come in and attack them.

Thinking about the hackers we’ve talked about and researched over the semester, I was able to experience just a tiny part of what they have experienced. I can definitely relate to them. I think part of why this hacking assignment was so uncomfortable is because I knew that I would have to reveal myself, whereas these real life hackers don’t have to identify themselves unless they are caught. I  can understand how so much damage is done when no one knows who is responsible for it. Sometimes that damage is also meant to do good things too. Hacking sends a message. The slightest alteration can completely change the meaning of something. I hope my hack didn’t offend anyone and I can’t help but say sorry to Hayley for invading her blog!



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