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Making Our World

The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context


Edited By Jeremy Hunsinger and Andrew Schrock

Making Our World: The Hacker and Maker Movements in Context describes and situates the political, historical, national, and organizational elements of hacking and making. Hackers and makers are often mythologized, leading to people misunderstanding them as folk heroes for the modern age. In response, this book describes and critiques these movements from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives to help readers appreciate their worldwide scope and highly localized interpretations. Making Our World is essential reading for students and scholars of technology and society, particularly those interested in social movements and DIY cultures.

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2. Kevin Mitnick, The New York Times, and the Media’s Conception of the Hacker (Molly R. Sauter)


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2. Kevin Mitnick, The New York Times, and the Media’s Conception of the Hacker


McGill University

Hacker Mitnick: Threat or Menace?

Kevin Mitnick, often identified as the “Most Wanted Hacker in the US,” was arrested in 1995 after a three-year FBI manhunt. His capture, trial, and imprisonment was exhaustively covered by the news media, particularly in the New York Times, where reporter John Markoff spearheaded the initial coverage and later published two books on Mitnick. In total, from 1994 to 2012, The New York Times published 47 articles that mention Kevin Mitnick.

The New York Times coverage of Mitnick reflects the changing popular conception of hackers, as well as legitimatizing and solidifying those evolving images and stereotypes. In this chapter, I examine how over the course of the this coverage the term “hacker” shifts from an identifier of a particular technological subculture to a stand-in term for criminality. Kevin Mitnick is most consistently referred to as a “hacker” throughout the New York Times coverage, but from 1994 to 2012, the use of “criminal” terms to modify “hacker” terms decreases, until eventually “hacker” terms are used a pure synonyms for “criminal” terms, as well as referencing general hacking culture in contexts where criminality is assumed. This transition is reinforced by the introduction of the term “ex-hacker” following Mitnick’s release from prison as a theoretically rehabilitated member of society.


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