nettime's mad digestion on Tue, 19 Mar 2002 08:17:39 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> digital hooliganism

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   re: digital hooliganism                                                         
     Pit Schultz <>                                                  

   Re: <nettime> digital hooliganism                                               
     mercedes bunz <>                                              


Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 21:37:14 +0100
From: Pit Schultz <>
Subject: re: digital hooliganism

andreas, alex,

>while i agree that the net is becoming more irritating as it is becoming
>more insecure through a decrease in social control, i think it is useless
>to decry the lack of moral responsibility.

i wouldn't go so far, i'd rather call it lack of precision on the
level of professional mediation. this applies not only for journalism
which is usually accused for representing hacking in a 'wrong' light.
it might look like a minor detail but i found it examplary for a broader
tendency in what is called 'media culture'.

>there is a certain romanticism
>(remember those old pirate movies ...) in the appraisal of hacker culture,
>but as alex has already pointed out, we probably need a more precise
>terminology to say which types of 'hacking' are doing exactly what.

it is certainly not helping to mediate hacking as an art strategy
exactly in the moment when it becomes a kind of digital plague.
in a broader sense, i see it rather as a symptom
of the media art discourse, of a detachement from the object, and
a tendency to achieve a certain kind of self-referential autonomy
within the discourse to provide a certain kind of bufferzone of
meaninglessnes. thought it could be productive to reexamine the
old romantic terminologies of the cyber-circus in it's history
of interpretation.
there are many other points where a similar
diagnosis works. "media culture" as an interface between 'the
two cultures', is constructing it's own reality, it's own agencies
and it's own values. on the one hand the mediation has to correspond
neccesarily with the actualities of media practise to a certain
degree, but to the other side, the so called 'audience', the mediation
mirrors the precise conditions of the discourse of media culture
and its institutions and participants, it's own limitations and
so what is presented to the audience about hackers, is probably saying
more about the audience and the apperatus of mediation then about
hackers themselves.
this is not 'morally wrong', but i think it should be adressed from
time to time.

> >how detached does the "media culture" discourse have to get from the 
> phenomena
> >of everyday digital life to finally become a full part of the reactionary
> >logic which it seems to try to critique?
>how detached from the reality of the networks does a project manager have
>to get in order to _not_ make regular back-ups of an important
>international project like orang?

well, speaking less about responsibility than economy,
assumed that's simply a problem of cash (investment into
a proper DLT backup mechanism costs about dollar 2K) then, how cost
effective an investment in this independent digital archive would have
been, in terms of 'cultural value' and in comparision with the investments
put into an average media art exhibition. what kind of structures
would be needed to make such funding a reality? and wouldn't it be
an appropriate curatorial media art practise to give funding to
valuable processual net projects instead of just paying for
physical presentations and installations?
why such a debate seems to be neccessary again today
after the 'dematerialisation' of art more than 30 years ago?

concerning risk management, if someone would break into the
computers of your office tomorrow and erase all data,
would you have had a proper backup?

hi alex,

>'hacker' is not such a descriptive word, it refers to cultures with
>tendencies, not a specific past-time.  so context becomes very important
>when you talk about hackers.

yes, especially in the context of 'media art' and 'media
culture'. where the terminology seems to be particulary blured regarding
the role of 'hacking' as a gesture.

>but i think you get this context wrong.  here you seem suggest that ccc is
>a good hacker group, yet didn't they run the hacking techniques workshop
>that you attack in your post?

not exactly, it was an art group from spain, but even if the workshop
was fun, i wanted to speak about it's contextual function. what was much
more astonshing for me was that 'blinkenlights' a collaborative
work of the CCC was running out of competition, maybe because it would
have simply won all prices, outperforming the output of educational art 
institutions for which these competitions are important benchmarks?

these artists might borough from ccc a certain value of authenticity,
and i am sure that the script-kiddies think themselves that it's 'cool'
to break into systems (which again generates a problems for the ccc)
and even the curator, expecting that hacking has a certain attention
value, knows that 'hacking is a cool topic'.
it is the symbolic exchange which becomes empty here, or at least

  and my '' stript, how is that
>useful to script kiddies?  it's a _taming_ of an extremely well known

The taming of the shrew? the tactiques of putting something 'ugly'
or 'common' into an art context to turn it into 'poetry' isn't new.
one could call it aesthetification. it has a funny taste in
the context of the house of world cultures, where normally art
from 'other' cultures is exhibited in a post-colonial manner.
but what kind of politics does it imply to highlight the
aesthetical value while not discussing the rather mundane
issues of hacking?

when duchamp introduced his pissoir it was also a commentary
on the way art competitions worked. later on he said that he
has to reduce the number of ready-mades.

> > i didn't want to discredit the 'good, old' hackers at all, and i
> > think many of them would agree because they also know about
> > how much efforts it needs to keep getting systems secure against
> > all kinds of attacks and exploits.
>it's actually a lot easier than you suggest.  close off all un-necessary
>ports, upgrade to ssh2, monitor activity.  if you have a decent backup
>policy (which you should have anyway to protect against hardware failure),
>then you limit any possible danger.  if you host projects and
>don't have backups, then that is plain irresponsible.

you're on a side track i believe. it lays exactly not in the
range of competence of an average system administrator (let's say like
in a medium size company or small university) to keep track of
the newest security issues. there is a whole industry out there
for a reason, and depending on the 'value' you have to defend,
you can never invest enough into it, because, as you know, there
is nothing like a 100% secure system. (btw, there's an ssh2 exploit
already talked about all over the place.) these security issues
i believe foster more centralisation in the business. and when
WIFI (wavelan) will be commodified in a broader range, you'll have
the same argument again. 'let us do the job for you, just
for your security'.

it is this ambiguity of hacking, the richness and probably
contradictions it carries with it, which i find interesting,
and what i would expect to get mediated in a valuable piece
of art or art discourse.
don't misunderstand, it is not a political correct argument,
like blaming the director of "the godfather I-III" for
legitimizing organized crime. and i also have full respect
of new kinds of poetry groups who read computer code to each
other. all i wanted is to question the way a certain system of
mediation works here.


Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 21:42:18 +0100
From: mercedes bunz <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> digital hooliganism

andreas broeckmann wrote:
>while i agree that the net is becoming more irritating as it is becoming
>more insecure through a decrease in social control, i think it is useless
>to decry the lack of moral responsibility.

actually the interesting thing in pit schultz's text is:
he is not talking about a realities of the net,
like a loss of security (was it ever? isn't that net.cültür.pessimism?),
but he is talking about the strange realities of its cultural discourse:

>  in their midst former hackers who still
>perform their sport like innocent boy-scouts praised by the net culture
discourse as role models.

and I think he is perfectly right there. he gets right through to the 
point, that the cultural reflection misses the  shift of the figure 
"the hacker". and it did miss it. so the ciritque is less directed 
towards the hacker, but more towards its cultural reception. a 
reception which is performed on this list here, the feuilleton of the 
internet. ; )

andreas broeckmann wrote:
>there is a certain romanticism
>(remember those old pirate movies ...) in the appraisal of hacker culture,
>but as alex has already pointed out, we probably need a more precise
>terminology to say which types of 'hacking' are doing exactly what.

  I think the industrialisation of the hacker is indeed a very 
interesting phenomenon. should be for at least. 
very good topic. but while i think there are still reasons to do 
hacker techniques workshops at the transmediale or wherever, we must 
be aware that this puzzle with the terminology can be something like 
a last try to save the old role-model. maybe we should leave the 
hacker and go back to politics?


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