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Hackers: Crime and the Digital Sublime Paperback – 9 Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (9 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415180724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415180726
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 741,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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

Review

'A must read for anyone who wants to understand the hacking phenomena that has swept the world' -- Dorothy E. Denning, Georgetown University, USA

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It is an interesting fact that moct scientific research and speculation on deviance concerns itself with the people who break rules rather than with those who make and enforce them. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Nov 1999
Format: Hardcover
Salem revisited
Twenty five years ago when I was starting out in my career as a computer barrister I ran into an elderly Queen's Counsel and got chatting. "I'll have none of your computery Kelman" he replied when I started talking about technology. 'Computery' was a word the QC made up on the spot which exactly matched his way of thinking - computers were magical and "computery" was like sorcery - a black art perpetrated by young dangerous wizards who did not know they place.
Dr Taylor's book takes the reader into this world where the establishment were frightened and yet fascinated by the 'computery', where young immature men (for it was mainly men) sought to use hacking to raise their social prestige and where hysteria and hype created a modern day Salem with show trials on both sides of the Atlantic. But while some of the hackers deserve to be considered young investigative journalists a large number engaged in primitive tribal rituals using their technical abilities in arcane coding for the pursuit of power without responsibility.
Dr Taylor documents this phenomenon and a revealing picture of the late twentieth century "new barbarian" culture (to use a phrase popularised by Professor Ian Angell of the London School of Academics). How society will embrace and extend its power over hackers with share options, main board directorships and new academic posts instead of punitive sanctions is the unwritten text of a latent follow-up volume.
This book on hackers is the first major intellectually rigorous study of this social phenomenon. I can commend it as required reading for anyone who is interested in the way society approaches threats which undermine the pecking order of society. Filled with quotes from the hackers themselves and visionary authors it is a mind expanding piece of literature which teaches while it entertains. Buy it....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Oct 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a very informative and entertaining book. It's full of quotes from numerous hackers whom Taylor has interviewed, which boosts both its insight and readability. Despite the title's mention of 'crime', Taylor paints an balanced picture of hackers and makes it clear that they are not first and foremost 'criminals', even though their activities are, at best, at the fuzzy edges of legality. Instead the hackers come across as intelligent, funny, computer-obsessed experimenters who can't resist the challenge of the locked door. Taylor cleverly takes apart the analogies, such as burglary and bodily invasion, which politicians and journalists (rather hysterically) attach to hacking.
I liked one hacker's defence of hacking into telephone systems to get free phone calls and internet access, that 'the lines are already in place, and the electrons don't care how far they travel,' which is true and stupid at the same time. (Seems to me that admitting that you're ripping off big phone companies should be OK, since the big phone companies doubtless rip people off all the time. But the 'electrons don't care' argument is sweeter).
I might have liked more on activist hackers, who mess up the websites of businesses or organisations that they disagree with; and the book lacks a political angle in general. Or perhaps the book reveals that hackers are less politically motivated than you might think. One or the other.
Taylor is very good on hacking culture, and hackers as people. He also provides a detailed analysis of the mixed relationship between hackers and the computer security industry. It's a well put-together book that you can actually read for pleasure. No, really. Good work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Encyclopaedia of Hacking 10 Dec 1999
By Tim Jordan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Taylor's Hackers is anextended and rigorous analyses of hacking as illicit computer intrusion (or cracking as some insist it should be called. Taylor explores in detail the nature of hacking from every angle. His book is based on over 60 in-depth interviews and is written sympathetically, treating hackers as human rather than as pathological teenagers. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Hackers. There are only two extended, academic pieces on hacking, this book and the complementary statistical analysis by John Howard (available at [...] also has the advantage of being accessible and well-written. Perhaps the best way to look at this book is as an encyclopaedia of hacking, because it provides extended quotes from hackers, computer security personnel and interested others (journalists, academics, etc.) on all relevant topics. An excellent piece of work.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The first major intellectually rigorous study of hacking 12 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Salem revisited
Twenty five years ago when I was starting out in my career as a computer barrister I ran into an elderly Queen's Counsel and got chatting. "I'll have none of your computery Kelman" he replied when I started talking about technology. 'Computery' was a word the QC made up on the spot which exactly matched his way of thinking - computers were magical and "computery" was like sorcery - a black art perpetrated by young dangerous wizards who did not know they place.
Dr Taylor's book takes the reader into this world where the establishment were frightened and yet fascinated by the 'computery', where young immature men (for it was mainly men) sought to use hacking to raise their social prestige and where hysteria and hype created a modern day Salem with show trials on both sides of the Atlantic. But while some of the hackers deserve to be considered young investigative journalists a large number engaged in primitive tribal rituals using their technical abilities in arcane coding for the pursuit of power without responsibility.
Dr Taylor documents this phenomenon and a revealing picture of the late twentieth century "new barbarian" culture (to use a phrase popularised by Professor Ian Angell of the London School of Academics). How society will embrace and extend its power over hackers with share options, main board directorships and new academic posts instead of punitive sanctions is the unwritten text of a latent follow-up volume.
This book on hackers is the first major intellectually rigorous study of this social phenomenon. I can commend it as required reading for anyone who is interested in the way society approaches threats which undermine the pecking order of society. Filled with quotes from the hackers themselves and visionary authors it is a mind expanding piece of literature which teaches while it entertains. Buy it.
Alistair Kelman Barrister and Visiting Research Fellow LSE Computer Security Research Centre The London School of Economics
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Cracking Good Read! 5 Mar 2000
By Joseph Morledge - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the first serious study I have seen of a generally media sensationalised area. Being straight from the hackers' mouths, the source material gives a more balanced view than those given by previous authors who tend to be overly moralistic and prejudiced in their approach to the subject. True impartiality is on display as well as meticulous research. Well done Dr. Taylor. I found the grammatically ludicrous, error strewn review of Mr. Yamane particularly unhelpful and inaccurate. People in grass houses shouldn't throw stones.
6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Not so intellectual... 9 Dec 1999
By Shinji Yamane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed many quotes of the media hype on hackers, but I do not agree that this book is ``the first major intellectually rigorous study of hacking'' as another reader reviewed.
Steven Levy's _Hackers_(It had criticized the Weizenbaum's view that the author depended.), Eric Raymond's _Cathedral and the Bazaar_, and _The New Hacker's Dictionary_ by many contributors had already researched and provided exciting resources on the hacker's culture and sociology. I cannot find the reason that they are not so intellectually rigorous. (Though Levy had made some mistakes, he tried to collect the mistakes in later edition.)
The author understand the hacker in the filed of the counter culture, rather than the serious computer development. That's the why the author ignore the both study of _Cathedral and the Bazaar_ and _The New Hacker's Dictionary_. So he failed to cover the hackers' most succeed and international part.
I fond some bibliographic mistakes in this book.
_The Cyberthief and the Samurai_ is by Jeff Goodell, not Godell.
_Wargames_ is the movie in 1983, not in 1989.
As URLs in the reference had already expired(maybe before this book is published), the date information or mirroring service might be helpful.
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