Hacking Rhetoric

Artist’s statement for Sandbox Hack

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My assigned hackee was devrubbo.  Personally I have not yet had a moment to speak to her on a personal basis or been able to work with her on any past assignments.  Thus, initially I thought I would have to jump through loops to find her password.  Luckily though, she left a very useful hint on the class blog about her high school name.  So I had to Google it in order to find out what it was, but during the process found out she was also from my hometown of Houston, TX.  Somehow this made hacking her a bit more personal since she became a lot more relatable to me.

When I finally did hack her, it felt as if I was violating the privacy of a friend, and to really mess with anything she had worked on really did feel wrong.  But at the same time it marked the first time I ever hacked anything or anyone and that too felt kind of exciting.  Especially if she too was online on her account at the same time, of course I couldn’t know if she was but to know at that moment I could do anything I wanted was in a sense, empowering.

When I first approached this assignment I absolutely had no idea what I would do to one of Devon’s blogs.  My overall aim was to be able to hack her blog but in a manner that would not be perceived as a troll or insulting.  While reading her blogs I ran across her blog where she talked about how Burger King was hacked on Twitter to report that they were just bought up to McDonalds.  Her hack for her artist statement was to make a poem reflecting it, she made the message of the hack her own, and I thought I would do the same to her blog.

For no specific reason in particular besides that I thought it would look cool I decided to translate what Devon wrote into binary.  Growing up the only thing I ever learned about computers is that they used binary and learned how to translate letters into the zero and one language.  Because every letter has a value in arranging 0’s and 1’s in a specific sequence, I figured I would be able to make Devon’s blog really long to where it would be able to take up a good portion of a blog page.  I copied Devon’s post exactly and saved it on a word document just in case something went wrong and then put it into a binary translator that I found on Google.  After translating it and posting it I was surprised at how long it looked.  To me, it looked very cool, something that I use to think of when I would watch hackers in movies with lines and lines of code.

I am very pleased with going about this route to change Devon’s blog into a different language form rather than manipulating anything about it.  Not only did I preserve her blog, but I copied exactly what she did, I took something and made it my own.  Upon completion I realized that this is hacking in its most basic definition, to take something and to change it.  In most cases we always think change is for a purpose, but this is strictly just to make it mine.  To be honest though after I logged out I was kind of relieved because it really did feel uncomfortable messing with other people’s work and leaving it under their name.  Maybe that’s why some crimes are done to people that are not associated with each other, a faceless victim can be much easier to do harm to than someone you do know.

This guilt that I felt was someone similar to an analysis paper I wrote about a former Lolsec member of Anonymous who hacked a representative of the Westboro Baptist Church on the radio.  Immediately the next day he felt regret because the amount of exposure his hacked received.  But then later when he was arrested he stated to a reporter that all the actions he ever did as a hacker he felt regret for.  At the time I thought maybe he was just saying that because he was trying to get sympathizers, after all he did express regret after being arrested and after speaking about his upbringing, but I can see where those experiences really just forced him to really think about it.  While hacking Devon, even though I wasn’t doing her any harm, brought excitement and a new rush, but afterwards after logging out of her blog I felt a bit guilty about it.   I’ve come to see that those hackers that hack for “the moment” or on their emotions can’t bring themselves to justify their hack.  I have come to believe that those that participate in that form of hacking will eventually find some guilt in doing so.  Maybe those that hack for a greater purpose, a cause, or a belief have an easier time hacking and then justifying to themselves why they did the things they do.

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