Hackers, according to Paul Taylor, are separated from the "legit" computer world by a gulf of mutual incomprehension. Taylor constructs his tale of hackers and their arch enemies from face-to-face interviews conducted both in the UK and the Netherlands, and e-mail interviews that span more than a decade and several continents. It makes for an informative--if not a rollicking--read.
Taylor has succeeded in not taking sides; rather he interviews those on both sides of the fence--hackers and computer security experts--as well as the (theoretically) unbiased fence-sitters, computer scientists. He examines the role of hackers in testing corporate security, contrasts the ethics of practitioners and "the computer underground" and explores the difference between those who consider hacking to be a criminal offence and those who see it merely as "an appropriate application of ingenuity".
The failure of both security practitioners and hackers to grasp the profound technological changes we're all living through, believes Taylor, has brought about this gulf of mutual incomprehension. Whereas social, cultural and historical investigations of the previous, industrial revolution gives us a context within which to understand the changes it brought about, in the throes of the information revolution we have no such intellectual framework. Taylor's dry, academic account is hardly likely, however, to remedy these unreconcilable differences. --Liz Bailey
'A must read for anyone who wants to understand the hacking phenomena that has swept the world' -- Dorothy E. Denning, Georgetown University, USA