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Wednesday, June 3, 2009


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Hackers Are People Too
Hackers Are People Too
42mn 45s | 544 x 304 | PAL (29fps) | DivX | MP3 - 128kbps | 349.64 MB | Genre: Documentry

This documentary gives 'hackers' attending a conference the opportunity to publicly discuss their views on what being a hacker means to them, what their motivations are for being involved, and views on things like gender and the representation of hackers in the press. It presents these views through interview clips with a selection of the participants, with music in the background and appropriate computer sound effects (such as the sound of typing). There is no narrative, or any particularly chronological or theme based ordering to the documentary.

Such a format relies on the quality of the information supplied by interviewees. So it is a real problem then, that although most of the people interviewed were undoubtedly intelligent, none of them really stood out as saying anything particularly profound or memorable. In fact, I got annoyed hearing about how intelligent hackers are(is that really so?) and that everyone who has ever invented anything is a 'hacker'. If this is true, then why use the word inventor? Can you really call the inventor of the wheel a hacker? I won't dwell further on the idea of the 'hacker community' either. Like any other community, it loves to love itself in a way which makes outsiders a bit uncomfortable.

The documentary also failed to give any real examples of the work that these hackers do. Some of us may have heard of Englishman Gary McKinnon's hacking of sensitive US government computers searching for information about UFOs. Now for me, this is potentially very interesting: how did he do it, what did he find out? But the only example I can remember - having just watched it - of hacking, is someone making some small lights flash under a skirt using LEDs. Not terribly exciting in my opinion. If you're going to make a technology related documentary, please give some technological examples, and not just clips of people pulling hard disk drive cables out of ancient PCs, and self-described hackers playing with Christmas tree lights.

Perhaps what would have made this more interesting, is if it had interviewed a wider range of 'hackers'. Maybe the ones going to big conventions and wearing T-Shirts proudly stating "I am a hacker" are the wrong ones to interview. Perhaps not all hackers go to Defcon in the USA - maybe some even come from non-English speaking countries. Maybe they do more than dwell on how clever they all are. Maybe they apply hacking to a certain field of activity or subject, for example social movements, fighting against Digital Rights Management, Peer-to-Peer, selling solutions to business, applying lessons to pure science. Who knows? You certainly won't find it out here



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