Review: Dear Hacker–Letters to the Editor of 2600

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Change & Innovation, Games, Models, & Simulations, Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Philosophy, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Half of the Priceless Set

July 16, 2010

Emmanuel Goldstein

I’ve been browsing this marvelous collection–559 pages–all afternoon, and the afternoon has been broken up frequently with outrageous laughter and occasional gasps of disbelief. This book, organized as it is, is vastly more important and easier to read than the original 2600 Magazine letters that I have been glancing at since first helping and joining this group in 1994.

The other book, The Best of 2600: A Hacker Odyssey now reprinted in a more expensive The Best of 2600, Collector’s Edition: A Hacker Odyssey is absolutely essential and the other half of this set.

Hats off to Wiley for having the brains to see the value, and the editorial talent to select, edit, and present so perfectly. This book, thick as it is, has exactly the right amount of white space, the selection and use of fonts is just right, and the index, while not as extensive as I would have liked, is adequate.

“Look Inside the Book” has been set in motion, in the meantime, here is the table of contents that runs from the early days in the 1980’s up through today, with absolutely phenomenal selections that provide priceless insights into the mindsets of BOTH bona fide hackers AND the clueless wanna-bes.

1. Question Upon Question
2. Tales from the Retail Front
3. The Challenges of Life as a Hacker
4. Technology
5. Our Biggest Fans
6. Behind the Walls
8. A Culture of Rebels
9. Strange Ramblings

Easily half if not more of the value of the book is to be found is the witty, acerbic, funny, insightful, surprising comments of the author Emmanuel Goldstein (not his real name), who has single-handedly but with many willing volunteers created the legitimate means of enabling information sharing and sense-making among hackers, who I am often at pains to describe as being the same as astronauts and pioneers, pushing the edge of the envelope.

This books is more fun than the first, but both are necessary in any responsible library seeking to understand both the good of hacking, and the idiocy and lack of ethical engineering in government and business that makes hacking so necessary.

Other books in this area that I recommend:
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution – 25th Anniversary Edition
The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier
Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman
The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier
The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers
Stealing the Network: How to Own a Continent

See also this DVD:
Hackers (features Emmanuel as the skateboarding hacker, he was a consultant to this film)

The DVD The Net with Sandra Bullock, and The Matrix Collection, as well as Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard are all worth looking at.

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