The Computer Underground


Department of Sociology
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
(5 March, 1990)


THE BAUDY WORLD OF THE BYTE BANDIT:
A POSTMODERNIST INTERPRETATION OF THE COMPUTER UNDERGROUND


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the American
Society of Criminology annual meetings, Reno (November 9, 1989). Authors
are listed in alphabetical order. Address correspondence to Jim Thomas. We
are indebted to the numerous anonymous computer underground participants
who provided information. Special acknowledgement goes to Hatchet Molly,
Jedi, The Mentor, Knight Lightning, and Taran King.

ABSTRACT

...

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of both the
nature of the acts and their broader relationship to the culture in which
they occur. This has occured with the criminalization of computer
phreaking and hacking. In this paper, we examine the computer underground
as a cultural, rather than a deviant, phe- nomenon. Our data reveal the
computer underground as an invisi- ble community with a complex and
interconnected culture, depen- dent for survival on information sharing,
norms of reciprocity, sophisticated socialization rituals, and an explicit
value sys- tem. We suggest that the dominant image of the computer under-
ground as one of criminal deviance results in a failure to appre- ciate
cultural meaning. We conclude by arguing that there are characteristics
of underground activity that embrace a postmoder- nist rejection of
conventional culture.


- ii -



THE BAUDY WORLD OF THE BYTE BANDIT:
A POSTMODERNIST INTERPRETATION OF THE COMPUTER UNDERGROUND Hackers ...

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such
behaviors. "Computer deviants" provide one example of a criminalized type
of "lifestyle politics."

The proliferation of computer technology has been accompa- nied by
the growth of a computer underground (CU), often mistak- enly labeled
"hackers," that is perceived as criminally deviant by the media, law
enforcement officials, and researchers. Draw- ing from ethnographic data,
we offer a cultural rather than a criminological analysis of the
underground by suggesting that it reflects an attempt to recast, re-
appropriate, and reconstruct the power-knowledge relationship that
increasingly dominates the ideology and actions of modern society. Our
data reveal the com- ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 8/15/2004 09:27:12 AM
Category: Computers
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 10572
Pages: 39

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