If you Google image the term ‘hacker’, surprisingly the majority of the images are heavily laden with dark colours and anonymous faces. With an emphasis on computer screens, covered in code and a human form with no real identity exposed.
The anonymity of a hacker is what we have grown to understand and accept. What most people don’t imagine when hearing the term ‘hacker’ is the well known Australian, Julian Assange. We discussed the idea of what the stereotypical hacker is, in class and it took at least half an hour of discussion before someone actually mentioned Assanges’ name. Although this is completely general and it is possible others were thinking that his name should be mentioned, but did not say it out of fear.
Assange has lead to fame after founding ‘Wikileaks,’ which is a not-for-profit media organisation, which allows important news and information to be distributed to the public (Wikileaks About 2013). With Assanges’ background in hacking he has now been known as a ‘hacktavist’, both hacker and activist, where he redistributes information for the greater good.
What has Assange done to the stereotypical hacker representation in the mainstream media? He has gone and completely changed it, compared to the 1980’s they were seen as extremely anonymous and hardly well known.
Through our reading of the fictitious work ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ by William Gibson in 1981, he explored an alternative post-industrial hybrid culture (Tomas 2000, p.175), which was based around information being accessed for free, no restrictions and largely libertarian. I have come to the conclusion that this is exactly what Assange has set out to do, he is somewhat mirroring this world that Gibson has portrayed in his fictitious book. His ability to expose governments and other organisations to the world, where he will right their wrongs has allowed this to happen.
Tomas, D 2000, ‘The Technophilic Body’, The Cybercultures Reader, pp.175-189.
Wikileaks 2013, About, viewed 05/04/2013, http://wikileaks.org/About.html