This is the legendary Hacker’s Manifesto, originally published by “The Mentor” in 1986. It has become the rallying cry of hack3rz worldwide.
This is a seminal piece of writing from the underground, forgotten by many but adored by many more. It still resonates with me and has as much meaning as it did back in the day when I first read it in Phrack Issue 7.
If you don’t know anything about this text or have never even heard of it, read it and read it carefully. It dates back to 1986 and was penned by Loyd Blankenship AKA The Mentor shortly after his arrest by the FBI for computer related crimes.
I guess many of you have read it before, and I hope you enjoy reading it again. My main aim though is to introduce it to newer people in the industry and hope they share it amongst their peers as it still embodies the hacker ethos.
\/\The Conscience of a Hacker/\/
Written on January 8, 1986
Another one got caught today, it’s all over the papers. “Teenager
Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal”, “Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering”…
Damn kids. They’re all alike.
But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950’s technobrain,
ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what
made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
I am a hacker, enter my world…
Mine is a world that begins with school… I’m smarter than most of
the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me…
Damn underachiever. They’re all alike.
I’m in junior high or high school. I’ve listened to teachers explain
for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. “No, Ms.
Smith, I didn’t show my work. I did it in my head…”
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They’re all alike.
I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is
cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because I
screwed it up. Not because it doesn’t like me…
Or feels threatened by me…
Or thinks I’m a smart ass…
Or doesn’t like teaching and shouldn’t be here…
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They’re all alike.
And then it happened… a door opened to a world… rushing through
the phone line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse is
sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought… a board is
“This is it… this is where I belong…”
I know everyone here… even if I’ve never met them, never talked to
them, may never hear from them again… I know you all…
Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They’re all alike…
You bet your ass we’re all alike… we’ve been spoon-fed baby food at
school when we hungered for steak… the bits of meat that you did let slip
through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We’ve been dominated by sadists, or
ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us will-
ing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.
This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the
beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and
you call us criminals. We explore… and you call us criminals. We seek
after knowledge… and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color,
without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals.
You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us
and try to make us believe it’s for our own good, yet we’re the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is
that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual,
but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike.
These are genuine questions, not merely a “these should keep ‘em busy!” talking points list, so I’m eager to hear your replies:
- Does [Blankenship’s] “Manifesto” resonate with you today, or does it seem outdated? Does it speak to your interpretation of hacker culture?
- Computers seem to swoop in and rescue [Blankenship] from the frustrations he expresses throughout the essay: he’s too bored with school because it doesn’t present a challenge, but computers do. Is this era the first to need an advanced challenge beyond public education? That may seem like a silly question, but who are [Blankeship’s] precursors—individuals fed up with a disconnected education system? What challenges do they seek out?
- Have schools made any strides toward accommodating the needs of students like [Blankenship]? If you listen to his talk from H2K2, he seems specifically concerned with the shortcomings of public education. At one point he explains that the solution to the problem is a larger financial investment in schools and educators, but that any attempt to ask for more money usually kills the conversation with officials. Is the situation really that dire?