Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Hackers : a case-study of the social shaping of computing
Author: Taylor, P. A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
Availability of Full Text:
Full text unavailable from EThOS.
Please contact the current institution’s library for further details.
The study is an examination of hacking, placing the act in the context of theories of technological change. Hacking is found to provide illustrative evidence within computing of theories which emphasise the societal shaping of technology over the notion of technological determination. The evolution of hacking is traced, showing how it reflects changing trends in the nature of information, the most vivid of which is the conceptualisation of information known as 'cyberspace'. Instead of simply cataloguing the impact of technical changes within computing and the effects they have had upon information, the study shows how technical change takes place in a process of negotiation and conflict between groups. The two main groups analysed are those of the Computer Underground (CU) and the Computer Security Industry (CSI). The experiences and views of both groups are recounted in what constitute internalist and externalist accounts, respectively, of hacking and its significance. The internalist account is the evidence provided by hackers themselves. It addresses such issues as what motivates the act of hacking; whether there is an identifiable hacking culture; and why it is almost an exclusively male activity. The externalist account contains the perceptions of hacking held by those outside the activity. The state of computing's security measures and its vulnerability to hacking is described, and evidence is provided of the extent to which hacking gives rise to technical knowledge that could be of potential use in the fixing of security weaknesses. The division within the CSI between those broadly cooperative with hackers and those largely hostile to them is described and the reasons why hacking knowledge is not generally utilised are explored. Hackers are prevented from gaining legitimacy within computing in a process referred to as 'closure', whereby they are stigmatised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available