Hackers vs. Planners

// Posted by on 01/25/2014 (2:10 PM)

In Stuart Brand’s article, “Spacewar” he pulls apart and identifies the differences between these “hackers” and “planners.” At first I was a bit confused reading about these, so-called hackers, and how they would all get together in the forums to talk about hacking. Today, hackers have a negative connotation, as we associate them with trying to steal our personal information on the internet. However, in Brand’s article, hackers refers to these young and free-spirited  type of people who believe that all information should be free, i.e. The Hackers Ethics. These planners on the other hand, the professors and “old school” bunch, believe that you should never do anything for free. They are the thinkers, not the go getters. These planners want the hackers information and knowledge in order to sell it. The hackers were always a couple steps ahead of these planners, because they knew how to jump right into a computer, take it apart, and change its whole system for the better. The hackers did not care about the money part, they cared solely about the information.

After reading this article, I began thinking about which one I would be, a hacker or a planner. With some thinking, I decided I would definitely be a hacker. I am not one to sit around and map out my plan of action, but more of a “jump right in” kind of person. I love the aspect of the hacker that they do not plan, and they are willing to just start taking computers apart, adding different things and coming up with a faster and easier operating system. I commend them for believing in the idea that all information should be free. However, that is one part that I do not totally agree with. I know that if I came up with some sort of valuable code that Apple computer wanted, I would not want my hard work to be free. The world runs on the successes of people, these hackers have given people, globally, opportunities they never would of had otherwise. Information that can transform the world should never be free. What if these hackers and planners were terms used to describe us, which one would you be?

The internet is whole new world, transforming everything around us. Everyday people learn more and more about what the internet is capable of.  It is a place where, as Kevin Kelly writes, we are all equal. There is no hierarchy online, no class distribution, and no judgement. Freedom of speech at its highest form. Kelly talks about a new sort of socialism in his article. The idea that through the internet everyone is created equal, and there is no class structure. Would you agree with that? Would you say that every time you log on to a chat room, facebook, twitter, or any other website, everyone has the same sort of opportunities?

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Rachel said...

I would agree that, in some ways, the internet can be a really strong balancing force in terms of “evening the playing field” of access and information.

However, first there is the issue that not everyone has access to the internet. We typically see it as an equalizing and democratizing force, but there are countries without the infrastructure to “plug in” and, in some cases, places where access can be revoked (see the current protests in the Ukraine and the Ukrainian government’s threat to interfere with access if they continue).

The other thing I would say is that the internet doesn’t seem to be the same judgement-free zone as a lot of digital utopianists would like you to believe — there are massive stigmas against female users in a lot of places, cyberbullying is a serious problem, and, well, if you ever want to lose all faith in humanity, you should read some YouTube comments.

I guess I might also speak to the concept of hierarchy. Just as there seems to be evidence of hierarchy within the WELL and the beginnings of Brand’s vision, there seem to be some elites on the internet and in the tech world. Whether you want to call them the “Digerati”* or just want to point to people who are Tumblr- /Twitter- /YouTube-Famous, there seem to be people who make more money and garner more attention on the internet and in technology than most users.


// 01/26/2014 at 8:27 pm

Emily said...

I do believe that in some ways, the internet has provided a way for people to connect and interact with one another without the interference of physical stigmas and prejudices. I found Howard Rheingold’s description of the benefits from the WELL program to be very interesting and pointed out something I had never really thought about or realized. On page 159, he “describes the new forms of interaction that computers made possible: gathered together online, yet restricted to text-only interfaces, individuals could connect to one another without encountering body-based forms of prejudice. They could come together not in the random interactions that characterized life in the material worlde, but by choice, around shared interests.” I think Rheingold does a great job assessing the positives of the WELL commmunity, or the virtual community in general.
While the above statement is true, there is also many downsides. Media has taken over the internet, advertising things that have created numerous issues today. For example, female stigmas (using models and degrading quotes/connotations to do so). Facebook is all about photos and showing off one’s experiences so you are now able to put a face to the person you have been messaging. Chatrooms can be dangerous, people are able to pretend they are someone who they actually are not. The list goes on. The internet has become a free range zone, and people are pretty much entitled to upload/say whatever they please.
An interesting article about a teacher from my elementary school came to mind when thinking about chatrooms. He met a minor through a chatroom and online messaging, while pretending to be much younger than he was. Once the relationship reached more comfortable levels, he admitted to being older but still did not reveal his real age (48). The two eventually ended up canoodling and her parents found out and reported him.

Here is a link to an article about it:

// 01/27/2014 at 12:39 pm