- Hardcover: 576 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470620064
- ISBN-13: 978-0470620069
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,741,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dear Hacker: Letters to the Editor of 2600 1st Edition
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About the Author
Emmanuel Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been publishing 2600 Magazine, The Hacker Quarterly, since 1984. He traces his hacker roots to his high school days in the late '70s, when he first played with a distant computer over highspeed, 300-baud phone lines. It didn't take long for him to get into trouble by figuring out how to access something he wasn’t supposed to access. He continued playing with various machines in his college days at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. This resulted in an FBI raid, as he once again gained access to something he really shouldn't have. It was in the midst of all this excitement that he cofounded 2600 Magazine, an outlet for hacker stories and tutorials from all over the world. The rapid growth and success of the magazine was both shocking and scary to Goldstein, who to this day has never taken a course in computers. Since 1988, he has also hosted Off The Hook, a hacker-themed technology talk show on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City. In addition to making the hacker documentary Freedom Downtime, Goldstein hosts the Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) conferences in New York City every two years, drawing thousands of hackers from all over the world.
Read a selection of actual letters written to 2600 [PDF].
Top customer reviews
So this book was one that I wanted to share with him. It's hefty. It's not something that most people will read all at once, but rather something you pick up and read a bit at a time. The insights into the culture, and the humor are wonderful.
We pick it up at different times, and each have our own set of bookmarks for things we want to talk about later, or gems that we want to read to each other.
There are a lot of times he wants a book that he can just pick up, open to any page, and start reading. This one is perfect for those days. Like I said, he loves the magazine.
Recommended mostly for fans of the magazine, old or new. If you're a new fan, it's a great slice of history. If you're an older fan, it's memories.
I couldn't read this book from cover-to-cover in a few sittings the way I might a non-anthology book since, after a while, the letters became too much of the same despite their different topics. Even the editors' comments started sounding like more of the same. Instead, this book is best read by section, in chronological order, to give a sense of how technology and the issues that accompany it have progressed over the years. The clueless and the marginally insane among the letter writers can be both entertaining and sad; however, some of the letters are incredibly articulate about matters that go beyond criminal activity and into the realm of pure technology and common sense. And I really enjoyed the sense of history created by the dated letters. For example, I knew, but had forgotten, about the original hackers -- the phone phreaks of the eighties-- and how they worked more to conquer the limitations imposed by phone companies (or even just ATT, when there was only one) than to invade individual corporations since the internet was not yet prevalent enough to provide an entry into all aspects of American life. The section of letters written by prisoners focuses almost exclusively on how to circumvent prison phone restrictions; however, later letters by the incarcerated touch on matters of civil liberties, the issue of rehabilitation versus banned computer use, and a few others. That 2600 gave these largely ignored individuals a voice is remarkable, even if some of those voices are just trying to commit another crime, this time from behind bars.
As a cultural document, this book offers a sampling of the history of computer technology and the people who hope(d) to harness it, and for that, it's worth reading. Don't expect any articles or special insight into computers or hacking, however, since these letters were written mostly in response to articles that non-subscribing readers are unlikely to be familiar with. Still, you don't need the articles to understand the letters because most passages are relatively superficial. The more complex entries stand out and are probably the most interesting, but their technical expertise may be difficult to follow for the layperson.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann