In her article, Coleman explains the complicated nature of “hacking”. Little did I know, hacking has many variants and those that consider themselves hackers do not always agree on what the title of hacking actually includes. One subgroup, Phreakers are described by Coleman as variation of hacking defined by their, “aesthetic sensibilities and linguistic practices proved to be more daring, vivacious, audacious and brash than what is commonly found in other genres of hacking.” (Coleman 101) Phreakers are different from another subgroup, the institutionalized hackers that arose from various colleges whose institutional dependence seems to cool their appetites for destruction. In contrast, trolls have their origin in the online world and are characterized by their almost mocking use of their hacking abilities.
In addition to Coleman’s categories, the video we watched in class separates hackers additionally based on their what side of the moral line they stand on. First of all, according to the video there are “white hat hackers” who work for companies within their computer security departments are look for holes in their security. They basically hack their own systems to look for holes. After “white hat hackers” we have “grey hat hackers” who often work to find holes in computing processes through illegal means. The term grey hat refers to the fact that while they are using their hacking abilities for good, they often use illegal practices. Finally, “black hat hackers” are the hackers who illegally break into computing processes for personal or malicious gain.
The moral and structural complexities surrounding hacking are more complicated than the connotation of the word claims. I admit when I hear of hacking I think of it as a completely negative practice that solely comprises for breaking into computer systems. As Coleman states, “hacking” is much more complicated than that. First of all, hacking is a diverse term that includes a variety of variations with their own origins. Secondly, hacking is not a black and white moral issue. There are people who use their hacking abilities for good, those who use them for bad, and then there are those who use them just because they can. Coleman claims, ” sometimes they (tricksters) do this to quell their insatiable appetite, to prove a point, at times just to cause hell, and in other instances to do good in the world.” (115) While we may not have a definite definition of what constitutes a hacker or a fine line that defines the morality of hacking, one thing that is for sure is that hacking is not going anywhere so we are going to have to learn to deal with it.