Levy's Description of Hacker Ethics and Principles
First and foremost to Levy's principles is the concept of the hacker ethic and the popularization of them to popular culture. In Levy's own words, the principles dictate;
- Access to computers—and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works—should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-on Imperative!
- All information should be free.
- Mistrust authority—promote decentralization.
- Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position.
- You can create art and beauty on a computer.
- Computers can change your life for the better.
The hacker ethic deals with the idea that individuals are performing a duty for the common good, an analogy to a modern day 'Robin Hood'. The hacker communities as a result are prided on the fact that they are the rebellion against authority figures that restrict this level of computer freedom. Hackers are only judged by their ability as opposed to the various systems in places that currently dictate authority, such as schools and universities. Mostly the hacker ethic idealizes the notion of hacking being an art-form, something revered as opposed to disputed and frowned upon. Popularized by 'phreakers' in the 1970s and 1980s, this is something that is not only evident, but also widespread among the growing community. As Manuel Castells, another lecturer involved in the field of computing, it is something that reflects not only on this community, but also of the wider social, political and financial world. In a sense, hacking is something that should affect everyone, but it is whether or not the interpretation that is given to hackers by Steven Levy compared with negative stereotypes of the media that dictate this perception.
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“The Hacker Ethic: Access to computersand anything which might teach you something about the way the world worksshould be unlimited and total.
Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!
All information should be free.
Mistrust authoritypromote decentralization.
Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
You can create art and beauty on a computer.
Computers can change your life for the better.”
—Steven Levy, U.S. writer. Hackers, ch. 2, The Hacker Ethic, pp. 27-33, Anchor Press, Doubleday (1984)