Friday, October 26, 2007

An it harm none, do what ye will - Hacking

I don't tend to hack anymore. Not only is it dangerous, but it is also often times harmful.

I've never been a fan of any black hat hacking. Destroying stuff just because you can isn't cool. It's destructive. What are black hats trying to prove? Superiority? Intelligence? Well, it fails. It takes a lot of skill and talent to create something beautiful, but it doesn't take much creativity or talent to take a crowbar to it and destroy it.

White hat hackers are almost as bad as black hats. They do it out of some form of purifying. They hack to 'teach a lesson' to someone, who they judge as being deserving. They believe their actions, legal or illegal, are justified because they are on the side of 'right'. Do the ends justify the means? What about those that get caught in the middle, the collateral damage?

Brown hats are the ones that just can't pick a side. Are they the bad guys or the good guys? What do they hack for? Sometimes they break stuff because it's fun, sometimes they break something because the other person was 'a bad guy'. True Neutral? I doubt it. They are motivited by the same thing as most hackers, the desire to prove something, even if it's only to themselves.

That being said... there are reasons to hack. Today I hacked. I contemplated the hack. Would it even be considered a hack? I am pulling some files off of a server that I was not intended to have copies of, I am tweaking a little script to run outside of it's home... I am doing something with all of these that the owner did not intend. It required knowledge of code. It required knowledge of scripts. It required knowledge of servers. Was it 'Hacking the Gibson'? Oh heck no. This was a little thing. Minor. Small fry. It's a hack that many non-hackers could do. I often times wouldn't even refer to it as a hack.

So if I don't like the reasons most people hack, why did I just do a hack? Oh, simple really: it harmed none. Not only that, but I think it will be good for some. If I could have gotten a hold of the fellow that owned these files, I am pretty sure he would have gladly given me permission to do exactly what I did. His creative work will be shown to a group of people who really deserve to see it. They will likely love it, and it will probably make some of them cry with happiness and sadness both.

So for an event at a VFW that doesn't have an internet connection for their presentation: Here it is, comin at you Lo Tek style!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Digital Democracy

New Zealand has taken a new angle on democracy. Their current legislation is over 50 years old, and just can't keep up with the changing world anymore. It's been in need of a serious overhaul for many years.

So they built a wiki site, and are letting citizens help edit the new laws. At first this may seem a little shocking, but it makes sense. Who all will have a voice in the creation of these laws? Lawyers, taxi drivers, police, jaywalkers, criminals, and most importantly: law abiding citizens. They will ALL have a voice in how the law is written. They won't be just voting for someone that will hopefully have the needs of the people in mind.

Personally I think this is a GREAT thing. The universe may move towards entropy, but society moves toward stability. Humans want to live in safe places, and have laws that keep them safe while not being overly restrictive. But it has previously been impossible to ask EVERYONE for their input on EVERY topic. Allowing everyone to edit the bills that will become laws means that everyone CAN have a say, if they want to.

Of course there are downfalls to such a system. Most notably in my mind is the 'vocal minority' issue. If there is an issue that only a very small group of people actually care about, they can do some rather serious changes because no one else really thinks it's enough of an issue to vote (or edit) against. If the majority of the population is apathetic about a decision and abstain, then the vocal minority can still get the laws changed. Of course, it could also be said that politicians in other forms of democracy are the vocal minority, so perhaps this isn't as big of a problem as I think.

I think it's a very cool idea. I think it has the potential to work out quite well. I applaud New Zealand for being the brave people to take on being the test case for this. I do hope it works; it could make democracy fairer, more honest, and more tailored to the REAL needs of the people. Now it's just time to sit back and see what kinks NZ happens to dig up...

(Inspired by another blog post I read by someone else. I forgot to bookmark it though... but if I find it again I'll include a link here so that you can read their opinions on the idea too)