Hacking Rhetoric

Hayley Gruwer Artist Statement

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The person who I was randomly assigned to hack was Meagan.  Before she posted her hint, I decided to try to hack her blog by going to her FaceBook profile.  From her FaceBook profile I found the name of her high school.  I, then, googled her high school in order to find the mascot.  However, her high school mascot was not her password.  I then decided to try typing in the city she was born in.  Because the city has two words, I kept trying to put the name of the city together, and it wouldn’t work.  I decided to just wait for Meagan to post her password hint.  Her hint made it clear that her password was the city she was raised in: San Antonio (go spurs!).  I decided to continue to try to type San Antonio in everywhere possible (sanantonio San Antonio san antonio SanAntonio) until I finally figured it out.

Once I was on Meagan’s blog I felt really guilty.  I knew we were assigned to hack, but it still felt weird actually being on another person’s blog account.  I read through all of Meagan’s blog posts until I decided what I wanted to hack.  I decided to mix up her blogs from “weekly blog” on 10/7 and “weekly blog: Hacking Halloween” on 10/14.  I chose to hack these blogs because the weekly blog from 10/7 was about a new, popular game called Candy Crush.  For someone who had never heard of the game Candy Crush, he or she would probably just assume candy crush had something to do with a type of candy or even Halloween.  Her blog from the next week was actually about Halloween, which made the Candy Crush blog from the week before ironic to me.

The rhetorical effect that I intended to demonstrate was the difference between a pragmatic analysis versus a semantic analysis.  In a pragmatic analysis, you find the meaning of a statement while in a semantic analysis you take a message literally.  For example, if I told a child, “I’m going to count to five,” the pragmatic analysis would be: If I don’t complete this task in five seconds, I will be in trouble.  However, the semantic analysis would be: I will spontaneously speak several different digits.  With Meagan’s Candy Crush blog, I demonstrated the semantic analysis technique.  I decided to mix up the words she used when talking about Candy Crush to mean talking about Halloween.  Every time she used the words Candy Crush, I changed it to Halloween.  I even changed words such as game into holiday.  I then decided to take it one step further and go to her actual Halloween blog.  In this blog, I changed the word Halloween into Candy Crush and the word pumpkin into candy wrappers.

Performing an actual hack on somebody else’s blog post showed me that my original perception of hackers was not exactly spot on.  It does not take a sketchy, super intelligent person to perform a hack.  Any normal person can attempt at a hack.  Already in this class I have hacked numerous things.  I hacked an everyday item to be used in a way that it was not intended to be used for, I hacked the McDonald’s and Burger King slogans and logos together, and I hacked onto someone’s blogging account.  I realized that not all acts of hacking are negative ones.  Hacking can be a way to make life easier, to be creative, to learn, and even to have fun.  Of course, I would not have hacked onto Meagan’s account unless it was an assignment, but once I had the opportunity I did not have any negative intentions.  I did not want to embarrass her, troll on her blog, or even mess up her hard work.  I just wanted to be creative and use the skills I had acquired so far from this class.  It is important to keep your ethics in mind in hacking, just like I did when hacking onto Meagan’s account.  The hacks we have done in this rhetoric class have been harmless, taught us new skills, and made us go out of our comfort zone.  I’m glad I got the opportunity to hack onto another person’s account!

 

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