14. November 1991, 18:08 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

The following are reprinted comments received when the “Conscience of a Hacker” and its preface were published on the Sleepy Hollow BBS. They are reprinted here as reflecting, expressed in less subtle terms, the same angst as Mentor’s more famous declaration.

It is hoped that those reading this, whoever, wherever, and whatever you are, are open minded enough to possibly learn something about what The Mentor was trying to say when he wrote those words.

The Mentor is not the first person to criticize our nations school system, and he will not be the last! Everyone seems to agree that the current system is not working. It used to be good, but too many teachers got tenure and too many administrators got sick of closely examining students to choose what course levels they should be taking. So, in the name of progress of course, the school system was destroyed. At my school there are 2 to 4 levels of courses for students who are at or below the average, however there is NEVER more than 2 levels for those who are above the average, and these courses are HARD to get into. They just got rid of an English level that consisted of 800 above average students. All 800 are being moved to a level below there intelligence or a level that will be to difficult for them to handle. In the name of progress. Bull shit! It was done to make our administrator’s job easier!! Now we have 800 kids who, if they where not bored enough with school, are now even more sick of it, either to much pressure of too little challenge. OOOHHH, YES we fought it! We signed petitions and gave speeches and got parents on our side, but we are just kids! What do we know? We are stupid idiots who can’t drive, can’t vote, can’t even get medical assistance without parental consent and do not deserve to voice our worthless opinions!!! No one listened, and everyone lost.

There are a group of kids in EVERY school who are advanced computer students. How does someone under 18 get to this level? With years of study and experimentation that is often illegal. Copyrights, patents, licence agreements, and anti-piracy laws are all broken, but it is all worth it. The student becomes a computer systems and programming expert!! Most people refuse to believe that one of “today's kids” would spend the time and work required just for the sake of learning. They tell us we are playing games or that we have some ulterior motive, and they listen to little news stories about hackers. The kids turn to their schools for more information, but most find an environment somewhat like my school. My school has more than 50 computers, do you think there is even one programming course!? NO!! Just a bunch of worthless courses on out of date word processors and old spreadsheet programs. What about colleges? Yes, colleges do offer some courses to high school students, but they are little better than the high schools’. And the universities will not allow us access to their systems!! You have to be a student there! Another option gone. Where should these kids turn for information?? Businesses? I don’t care how many IS managers tell you they would hire a high school student, IT NEVER HAPPENS!!!!!!! Who would hire a kid with no high school diploma, not to mention a college degree, no work experience, and no computer knowledge other than what he has taught himself! Most people think the kid is lying when he describes the experience he has. They would not think twice about hiring a person like this!! A person with this kind of background would have a hard time getting a job at Mcdonald’s!! These kids are left with no other option. They must again break the law in order to gain the knowledge everyone seems to deem them unworthy of having.

They call us “The first generation that will do worse than their parents!” The “Baby Boomers” came up with this Bull Shit. Not surprising. The generation that has spent the last ten years calling itself the best generation that has ever been has now proclaimed itself the best generation that WILL EVER BE!!!!! What does this statement mean?? Many people think that it means that our generation will not be able to advance technology as far as they have, or that technology will stop here. Not true. Many people believe think that we will destroy the earth because we will not be able to keep up with our parents. Not true. Many people believe that our generation is somehow collectively less intelligent than theirs. This, also, is not true. What DOES this statement mean? It means that the average student today will learn less in school than the average student 30 years ago. Who get's the blame for this? WE DO! Although they will not accept our opinions on the school system, they blame US for it's fallacies! They tell us we are lazy, that all we want to do is go out with friends or play “games” on the computer. They say we all go out at night at commit crimes, do drugs, steal thousands of dollars from companies and the government. They do not even attempt to learn the truth, the just form a biased opinion and go with it. Here we have a group of kids who want to learn, but their schools deny them the information they seek and no one else is willing to provide it. So, they take things into their own hands and steal the knowledge they require. In return they are arrested and prosecuted. If they were allowed to learn they would be able to use this information to help the computer community, but instead they join the thousands of people crowding up our nation’s prisons.

Sad. It is sad when a nation forces their children to break the law in order to learn.

Even tonight as the ’Net glistens with the individual data of several million users, The Mentor’s Last Words still echo through cyberspace as the declaration of a new age and a new world - “of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.” The simple fact is that the coming of the computer and the rise of the Internet heralds the transition from a commerce and power based localised civilisation to a higher, information based global civilisation. The Mentor will forever remain an underground icon of the many visionaries who were victimised by those who feared and misunderstood - as one of the best and the brightest, one who saw the future and understood his role in realising it.

All who act as harbingers of a new age recognise and acknowledge The Mentor - his words will always echo in our hearts and minds.

- 30 -

Categories: ,
Keywords: hackers manifesto,the mentor,social commentary


Alan Sun Aug 24, 04:49 AM

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.


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