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Hackers Are People Too

4.6 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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(Aug 08, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Hacking vindicated! Within the computing, hobbyist, creative design, and invention communities, as elsewhere, hacking has always been a positive thing, but the media and the less than knowledgeable computer security community co-opted the term and the concept, and the media embraced it because it was easier to tell than the truth. But now the misnomer has been torn away by the honesty of a new filmmaker, Ashley Schwartau, who has taken the direct approach to getting at the truth. Observe and ask the people involved. And the truth looks more like students in engineering school and their adult counterparts who never gave up the vision of rugged individualism combined with a sense of community that brought the world out of ignorance and into the information age. Enlighten yourself, and watch this movie. Then send your kids to join the industrious, interested, amazed, joyous, freeing crowd of investigative inventors in the Internet and elsewhere - the hackers! --Fred Cohen

Sometimes, just when your faith in "kids today" has been drained so bad your mind feels like a purple slurpee being rudely slurped by an obnoxious kid who is kicking the bottom of your airline seat as you ride the plane to nowhere in ever-widening circles, something comes along to renew your hopes for the future. A case in point? The debut documentary from a talented young director Ashley Schwartau: Hackers are People Too. (A.k.a. H4CK3RS Are People Too for the folks who are 3Lit3 or HAPT for those who are into the whole brevity thing.) The "hope renewed" impact of this documentary hit me on two levels. First and most importantly, HAPT delivers a fresh take on what it means to be a hacker. Schwartau eschews traditional media fear-mongering in favor of the classic definition of hacker: people who like to mess with technology, not to mess it up, but to tune it up, to deconstruct, understand, and re-animate everything from phones to computers to radios and doorlocks and robots. Sure, there are people who break computers and the law, but as one of the many articulate interviewees in HAPT asserts, it makes more sense to call those people computer criminals than to appropriate a word which champions of industry like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were once proud to own. By taking a positive approach, Schwartau is able to give her audience a rare glimpse of the breadth and depth of talent that is part of the hacking community. We can plainly see that hackers come in all shapes and sizes although most seem to share two characteristics: above-average intelligence and above-average tolerance for people who are "different." Sure, there are some snarky smart-ass remarks--the movie would have been unbelievable without a smattering of those--but on the whole we see hackers for what they are, relatively likable people. And if that observation sounds too simplistic to be a revelation I suggest you a. watch some traditional media portrayals of hackers and see just how distorted they are, b. hang out, as I have, at some hacker gatherings. As I argued many years ago in a debate at a major security conference, these kids are not amoral sociopaths, they have their own set of morals, some of which, such as tolerance, our society could use more of. The style of Hackers Are People Too is direct and largely un-narrated, with Schwartau letting the subjects speak for themselves (which they sometimes do with considerable flair). She paired some interviewees in ways that prove effective and engaging, offering a break from solo talking heads. I also like that there are no fancy graphics grafted on to the interviews (after all, the world of hacking is historically one of monochrome command line text interfaces). There is a nice real world feel to the interviews and a refreshing lack of window dressing. The occasional use of on-screen footnotes to explain some terminology was helpful without being condescending; if you're a geek you probably won't need them, but you shouldn't diss them--this is a film that could reach a lot of people who would ordinarily shun a subject as geeky as hackers. Who knows, some minds might even be changed, for the better. The first public outing for Hackers Are People Too is a premiere event on August 8th at DefCon in Las Vegas. Look for it on DVD shortly thereafter. You can find the trailer on YouTube right here. You can also check the web site. --Stephen Cobb

Avoiding the technical aspect of the topic altogether, 'Hackers Are People Too' instead shows you the human side of the hacker community, introducing the viewer to an influential but irreverent subculture that flies largely under the radar. It's funny, enlightening, and entertaining all at the same time, and when it's over you'll have a completely new perspective on your friendly neighborhood hacker. --Matt Lewis, Angel Valley Media

About the Director

Ashley Schwartau, 23, graduated from the University of Central Florida's Digital Media program in August of 2008. She has been part of the hacking scene ever since her father, Winn Schwartau, a renowned security expert, took her to DefCon 9, her first hacker convention. Since then, she has grown to love the hacker community, and wanted to do something to give back. With a huge passion for editing, Ashley chose the topic of 'hackers' for her first film and thanks everyone for their support over the course of making it.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Directors: Ashley Schwartau
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Managed Mischief, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: August 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 43 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0962870080
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,332 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hackers Are People Too" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Hackers Are People Too took a delightful peek into the hacker community. I particularly enjoyed the comfortable aspect of the documentary; it was as if the camera wasn't even there, like I had just been plopped in the middle of a Defcon. By letting the hackers tell the story really strengthens the goal of the movie and each of the interviewees brought something to the table, whether it was comic relief, cynical remarks, enlightenment, or a heartwarming tales of connecting with people or developing a sense of belonging. This is a community I knew little about and after watching this film, I do want to hug a hacker, I want to know a hacker, but I especially want to thank a hacker for breaking things, improving things, being curious, asking questions, and solving problems, and allowing me to safely use the internet. And I want to thank Ashley Schwartau for making this film and sharing this community she loves with the rest of us!-
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It has been a long time since a "real" hacker documentary has come out, but I don't know if any of them has portrayed the hacker community as truthful and respectful as this one. Hackers Are People Too, gives an inside look at a couple of the best hacker conferences on the west coast. This documentary has interviews with "heavy hitters" of the community but also with some of the more unknowns. Ashley (the director) got rave reviews at the screening, a standing ovation was given by over 500 hackers. This movie discusses *exactly* what I would want to portray of our community. An emotional, humorous, and informative ride, this movie will hopefully contribute significantly to changing the current "bad hacker" stigma.
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Format: DVD
As Rodney Dangerfield says, they just don't get no respect! But now Schwartau's latest film, Hackers are People Too is about to change all that. Schwartau has exposed this group of geeks for what they are, hilarious, sincere, and faster than a speeding bullet to kink the cables of black hats everywhere.So, mothers, when your little darling says he or she wants to grow up to be a Hacker, after seeing Schwartau's film, you'll want to celebrate!
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Format: DVD
I saw this film at an early screening and it was fantastic! This film is an awesome introduction to a dynamic community that does not get the positive attention it deserves; but never fear, all of my preconceived notions about what a "hacker" is have been completely eradicated by this great documentary! Completely entertaining, sincere, and thought provoking. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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By Susan H on August 29, 2014
Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect from this. I was pleasantly surprised by this because I liked the way they defined Hacker. I like the mix of interviews. My only complaint is it was too short. I wish they would have expanded on some of the ideas -- like the way every thing has changed, some of the great ideas that have come from the Cons, and the role of women.

Overall, I found it interesting and positive.
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Format: DVD
"H4ck3rs are people too" gives a fresh voice to the too often maligned sub-culture of hacking. Ms. Schwartau does an amazing job of allowing the subjects of her film to speak for themselves, giving us an insightful, honest look into their relatively unexplored world. A world that would do us all well to better accept, for its ground-breaking contributions to the on-line world that so many of us have come to rely so heavily upon, whether or not we are able to comprehend them or their methods.

As we learn in this frank and often funny documentary, hackers are NOT out to steal your identity or your bank account. Anything but simple, but simply inquisitive, the hackers we meet spend the majority of their free time exploring how to make, break and remake systems and equipment, enabling them to work more securely and efficiently, there-by making all of our computing experiences safer and more enjoyable.

Watch the documentary. Hear the other side of the argument before you decide for yourself. But decide for yourself. Don't base your beliefs solely on reports from a fearful, biased government and media that have made snap judgments on yet another fringe group, without really doing their homework first. Hear what the hackers have to say for themselves.

Have you hugged a h4ck3r today?
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Format: DVD
I saw this documentary first at (where else) a hacker convention. While some movies out there (Hackers back from 1995) project hackers as mostly malicious, performing illegal actions, and very limited to computer hacking, Hackers Are People Too does a terrific job of actually showing that there hackers are very nice, law-abiding, and vary in subjects overall. This documentary is mostly done with hackers themselves doing all of the talking - what it really does mean to be a hacker, what it means to have the intense curiosity that they all have and their drive, and humanize their image. The world owes hackers ideas like SSL encryption when you do a buy an item online, encryption of your bank information, etc. There are some bad eggs out there, but hackers ARE people too.
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Format: Amazon Video
A previous review discussed the notion of stereotypes and how, what a surprise, not all hackers fit this stereotype.

Try telling that to every media outlet and politician out there. "Hacking" can be anything, but rarely is the definition rigorous, or even accurate.

This movie does a really nice job giving an insight into the culture, and it really is a good representation overall. Yes, the hacking community is not some monolithic group, but it is often portrayed as such, and this movie shows the fallacy of that type of thinking.

It's not a nail-biting, CGI-driven romp through fictional cyberspace. It's not some group of guys secretly hiding out in a basement, lit by green-screens, hacking into the FBI. It shows how the community as a whole just really isn't that different from anyone else, perhaps aside from being more innately curious than average.

It will make you smile. It may make you laugh. If you're in the "hacker" community, you'll nod a lot and say "yup", then wave to your friends on screen. If you're not, perhaps it will have you second guess this evil, basement-dwelling antisocial monster that is often portrayed. I have seen it a few times, and every time I find another reason to be impressed by Ms. Schwartau's work in capturing the REAL culture.
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