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La communauté des logiciels libres : hackers, pirates et trolls

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Dans cet essai, la communauté des hackers est examinée. Après une définition de ce que sont les hackers, nous abordons l'évolution de ce groupe en donnant des exemples illustrés. Nous décrivons le contexte actuel ainsi que les tendances évolutives de ce groupe. Nous présenterons ensuite brièvement le style de vie des hackers, avant de terminer en analysant le phénomène de « peer production » ainsi que son importance pour l'avenir.
Après avoir fait un bachelor en European Economic Studies à l'Otto-Friedrich Université de Bamberg en Allemagne, Claudia Pöpperl a intégré le programme Grande Ecole d'HEC Paris. Dans sa troisième année, elle a choisi la majeure Alternative Management pour découvrir les façons innovantes de résoudre les prolèmes de management de demain.
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Observatoire du Management Alternatif
Alternative Management Observatory
__
Essai
The community of the free:
Hacker, pirates and trolls
Claudia Pöpperl
29 janvier 2009
Majeure Alternative Management – HEC Paris
2008-2009
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 1Genèse du présent document
Cet essai a été réalisé sous la forme initiale dans le cadre de la Majeure Alternative
Management, spécialité de troisième année du programme Grande Ecole d’HEC Paris.
Il a été dirigé par Thanh Nghiem, professeur du cours « Métabolisme » et soutenu le janvier
2009.
Origins of this research
This research was originally presented as a research essay within the framework of the
“Alternative Management” specialization of the third-year HEC Paris business school
program.
The essay has been supervised by Thanh Nghiem, (Professor in HEC Paris) and delivered on
thJanuary, 29 2009.
Charte Ethique de l'Observatoire du Management Alternatif
Les documents de l'Observatoire du Management Alternatif sont publiés sous licence Creative Commons
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/fr/ pour promouvoir l'égalité de partage des ressources intellectuelles
et le libre accès aux connaissances.
L'exactitude, la fiabilité et la validité des renseignements ou opinions diffusés par l'Observatoire du Management
Alternatif relèvent de la responsabilité exclusive de leurs auteurs.
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 2La communauté des logiciels libres: Hackers, pirates et trolls
Résumé : Dans cet essai, la communauté des hackers est examinée. Après une définition de
ce que sont les hackers, nous abordons l’évolution de ce groupe en donnant des exemples
illustrés. Nous décrivons le contexte actuel ainsi que les tendances évolutives de ce groupe.
Nous présenterons ensuite brièvement le style de vie des hackers, avant de terminer en
analysant le phénomène de « peer production » ainsi que son importance pour l’avenir.
Mots-clés : Hacker, Troll, Peer Production
The community of the free : Hackers, pirates and trolls
Abstract : This essay represents a personal view and tries to describe the hacker community .
Starting with a definition of these terms, its evolution is consecutively presented showing
some illustrating examples. Furthermore, the actual context and existing transitory tendencies
are highlighted, as well as the hacker lifestyle. Finally, the phenomenon of “peer production”,
as well as its importance for the future is explained.
Key words : Hacker, Troll, Peer Production
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 3Remerciements
I would like to thank my professor Thanh Nghiem as well as Tom Bouillut (a living example
of the hacker community) and my friend Felix Husse.
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 4Table des matières
Claudia Pöpperl........................................................................................................................1
Genèse du présent document...................................................................................................2
La communauté des logiciels libres: Hackers, pirates et trolls.............................................3
Remerciements .........................................................................................................................4
Table des matières ....................................................................................................................5
Introduction...............................................................................................................................6
Partie 1.Hacker – A Definition...............................................................................................8
Partie 2.Evolution of the hacker community..........................................................................9
Partie 3.A state of transition..................................................................................................13
Partie 4.Peer production........................................................................................................18
Conclusion ...............................................................................................................................23
Bibliographie...........................................................................................................................25
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 5Introduction
This essay is exploring a subject which so far has rarely been studied. Thorough
information on this topic is hard to obtain and the main sources can be found on the internet.
Yet, these sources are difficult to validate and therefore, I’d like to underline that this essay
represents rather a personal opinion than a scientific study.
Nevertheless, this essay is treating a subject with quite fundamental implications for the
whole society. Today, we see ourselves confronted for the first time with a technology that
allows spreading information at basically no costs – except the cost for equipment. This could
implicate essential changes: Access to education might no longer be a question of financial
means, nor of social standing. The way of learning might also be a different one since auto
didacticism is fostered by this new technology. We can already observe these phenomena in
the hacker society and it was therefore my concern to explore the same in order to deduct
possible influences on the whole society and on our ways of creating.
Once upon a time, there was a man who dedicated his whole life to overcome ignorance.
His firm belief was that individuals only do wrong because they lack information, because
they don’t know better. So in order to live a righteous life, he demonstrated that you first must
question your knowledge and start learning. For this belief he even accepted to be executed.
This individual I am describing here is no fictional character; the man I am talking about is
Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers of all times and one of the first representatives of
what we call “hackers” today.
To associate Socrates with the expression “hackers” might be a bit surprising since in the
mind of the general public, hackers are pirates, irresponsible computer geeks and a real threat
to today’s society. Movies like “Wargames” and personalities like Karl Koch, alias Hagbard
Celine who tried to sell information he had obtained illegally through hacking to the KGB, or
Kevin Mitnick, the world famous cracker, have contributed to create this negative image.
Without doubt, personalities like these are part of the hacker community, but the concept of
“hackers” is broader. It is not necessarily negative, nor positive.
In this essay, I will first have a closer look at what we call hackers and I will try to give a
more accurate definition for this term. Secondly, I will try to show where hackers come from,
6 : Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 how this movement evolved over time in order to illustrate the motivation behind the concept.
The next step will be to describe today’s situation, how things are changing and what role
hackers may take in this world. And finally, I will examine something called peer production,
a derivate of the hacker ethic, and its impact on the future.
7 : Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 Partie 1. Hacker – A Definition
Looking up the term “hacker” on the internet within my research led to a variety of
confusing concepts and names which describe all kinds of special subcultures. You can find
any expression linked to the subject, from script kiddies to black or white hats, i.e. “the good
and the bad” hackers. So in order to define hackers, let’s first try to identify the smallest
common denominator of all the existing descriptions. Consequently we will see that hackers
are extremely curious individuals who are looking for knowledge, who want to understand
and are destined to create. They look for an intellectual challenge, they want to experiment
and they are fascinated by innovation and technology. The field of expertise they want to
explore might be the latest technology, but it might as well be the field of social studies. The
aim is to appropriate oneself a particular knowledge and then to use it in order to gain peer
respect.
Their culture is deeply anchored in science fiction and the world of role plays. In these
fictional worlds, they can fully develop their imagination, they can be whoever they want to
be and even though certain rules exist, there are no such boundaries as those we are
confronted with in our society. This influences the main credo that all hackers share which
states that all information should be available to everybody, hence every individual should be
able to decide for itself if it wants to access a piece of information. In a world where elites
decide what kind of information is available to which person, this credo provokes
confrontation. But I will deepen this problematic at a later point of this essay.
Given this definition we will now examine history in order to identify famous hackers and
trolls and to follow the evolution of this term.
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 8Partie 2. Evolution of the hacker
community
As already mentioned in the introduction, one of the first hackers in human kind history
was Socrates. Not only did he advocate the search for knowledge, he also rebelled against
prevailing structures limiting access to knowledge. In ancient Greek society, education and
therefore knowledge, was limited to the people who had a certain position in society and the
money necessary to pay tutors and teachers, the Sophists. Socrates opposed these methods as
well as the idea of paid education, and he regarded the knowledge the Sophists taught as
being superficial. He claimed that a perpetual search for knowledge and truth was the only
way to live up to the moral obligations human beings have. This claim influenced his method
of teaching, which actually was not so much a way of teaching somebody, but rather the
collective questioning of existing knowledge or what was thought to be knowledge. This
technique, the Socratic dialogue, aimed to evaluate how much an individual actually knows,
where knowledge has to be improved and finally to foster peoples’ modesty and to clarify that
1it's all about "learning to learn".
Another philosopher one can mention in this context is Immanuel Kant, one of the
founding fathers of the German “Aufklärung” who lived more than 2000 years after Socrates.
Like his predecessor, he embraced the idea of developing knowledge through constant
questioning. Furthermore, he demanded the emancipation of the human being in the field of
2knowledge where the individual should dare to know, as he put it.

Of course, I am well aware that these are only two brief examples of a variety of
representatives of the hacker spirit before the upcoming of telecommunication technologies,
but I chose them specifically to underline some of the most important philosophical aspects of
the hacker ethic.
1 Skills, Socrates and the Sophists: Learning from History Author(s): Steve Johnson Source: British Journal of
Educational Studies, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jun., 1998), pp. 201-213 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of
the Society for Educational Studies
2 Kant and the End of the Enlightenment in Prussia Author(s): Steven Lestition Source: The Journal of Modern
History, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 57-112 Published by: The University of Chicago Press
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 9With the upcoming of the telecommunication technology, notably the telephone, the world
entered a new era, globalization became more tangible and people all over the world were just
a phone call away from each other. It was the beginning of a time of easy information
exchange which should find its consecutive continuation in the invention of the internet. In
the 1950s this technological development provoked the appearance of a group of people who
can be considered the inspiration and forefathers for today’s hackers, the phreakers. Phreakers
developed methods to infiltrate the telephone network which therefore became for them a
place to meet like-minded people. Probably the most famous representative of these phone
phreakers is the notorious John Draper, alias Captain Crunch, who demonstrated the use of a
simple gimmick sold with a cereal brand that allowed manipulating and entering the
telephone network.
But creating technological devices, like the notorious blue box, in order to hack the
telephone network was only one part of phreaking. Additionally, this movement gave rise to a
technique that one might even call the “art” of social engineering as phreakers accessed
crucial, mostly confidential information by interacting in a manipulative way with their
conversational partner on the phone. So when phreaking became known to the public through
an article written by Ron Rosenbaum in the early seventies, it caused enormous paranoia,
especially regarding the latest political incident, the Watergate scandal. This set an end to
3phone phreaking, but could not avoid the rise of another group, the hackers.
To understand the hacker movement, one first has to remember the computer technology’s
origin. The first computers were constructed in the context of war like the famous ENIAC, a
thcomputer weighing over 30 tons which had been constructed on 14 February 1946 by John
Atanassof, professor at the State University of Iowa. Another famous example is the
electronic device “Colossus” which had been created in 1942 during the Second World War
by the British secret service in order to crack the communication code of the German
4military. They were impersonal, hard to understand and not to be touched. But when Steve
Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple computers, read the article about phreaking mentioned
above in the 1970s, things were about to change. More and more people, may it be at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or in the famous Homebrew computer club, a
gathering of people interested in technology who tried to develop practical and accessible
3 http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1mez1_history-of-hacking-1-of-3_tech
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1mf0k_history-of-hacking-2-of-3_tech, visited Saturday, 3 January 2009
4 « Il y a 50 ans, l'ordinateur » by Marie SANZ, published on 14 février 1996 in the ORIGINE-DEPECHE:
WASHINGTON
: Hackers, pirates and trolls» – Janvier 2009 10