The Bright Side of Hackers

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Keren Elazari is a security expert, public speaker and industry analyst with GIGAOM Research.  Since 2000, Keren has worked with leading IT vendors, government organizations, Big 4 firms and Fortune 500 companies.
Keren is a featured speaker at many international events such as TED 2014, RSA Conference, DLD, NATO’s Cyber Conflict Conference, DEFCON, WIRED and more. Keren is fascinated by the rising power of hackers, the value of data and the evolution of security paradigms.

In 2012, Keren held the position of Security Teaching Fellow with Singularity University.  Keren holds a BA in History & Philosophy of Science from Tel Aviv University, and the international accreditation for Information security professionals, CISSP since 2007.

Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security at Tel Aviv University, where she explores the intersection of cyber conflict and politics.


Keren Elazari gave a TED talk about the positive side of hackers.

Maybe not even the “positive side”: she explained the useful, pragmatic, philosophical side of hackers.

Because when the typical person thinks of hackers, they think of things like this:

computer-hackerI am exploiting your grocery list, Mrs. Robinson. 


hackers-cast-thumb-560x286Meet me in the basement after 3rd period. And bring your snazzy jackets. 

What a hacker really looks like is this:


This is Kevin Mitnick.  He was one of the first notorious hackers of the 90s, and he is holding a “Free Kevin” sticker that was on every linux computer back in the day, including mine.

 Keven was before his time in hacking.  “In 1999, he pleaded guilty to seven felony counts of wire and computer fraud that he committed between 1992 and 1995.[5] At the time of his arrest, he was the most wanted hacker in the United States history and a federal fugitive…

but the way he got started was,

At age 15, Mitnick used social engineering and dumpster diving [12] to bypass the punch card system used in the Los Angeles bus system. After a friendly bus driver told him where he could buy his own ticket punch, he could ride any bus in the greater LA area using unused transfer slips he found in the trash. Social engineering later became his primary method of obtaining information, including user-names and passwords and modem phone numbers.”

He started hacking in order to fill a need.  Illegally, mind you.  But he got around the system.

So, how can hacker poets hack the system?  Is there a need we have to fill of poetry that speaks for our culture…do we post our poems on lampposts again?  Should we use form? Do we have to lower the bar of quality to write coffee shop poetry?  How do we raise the bar of quality and write poetry that matters?


The soul of Hacker Poetry is the hacker nature of the poet.

The past 2 or 3 generations have been hacked to bits.  The 70s were protests.  The 80s were hope that never panned out.  We were told to “Say No, and Wear Neon.”  The 90s started getting moody, and we don’t have a term for 2000-2010.  The Millenials?  What about the last 4 years?  Where are we?  Who are we now?

During WWII the nation was told to fight for their country.  Yet, after 9/11 we were told to spend to keep the economy going.

Who are we now?

College students with $100K of debt?  Mothers who have taken a sabbatical from writing to raise their children?  Fathers who have a decent job?  We certainly aren’t the Beat Poets ditching society and driving in a beater to Alaska.

We will put these hacked pieces together and make poetry that speaks for this.  We will do it with, or without, the approval and praise of academia.  You don’t need a book club meeting at Borders on Tuesday nights at 7 to write poetry that matters.

So write. 


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