[hackerspaces] Master's thesis

Alan Fay emptyset at freesideatlanta.org
Wed Jan 15 21:14:26 CET 2014

On Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM, Philip Poten <philip.poten at gmail.com>wrote:

> It is not that the authors of such studies are of malicious intent,
> but rather that the studies can be used as a means of developing
> policies, counter tactics and infiltration programs.

Can you elaborate on this?  Are you speaking from experience?

I don't know what you have going on in your hackerspace, but at Freeside
we're mostly just a bunch of people working on personal and hobby projects
(think Arduino powered birdhouse with LEDs, not so much anti-surveillance
tech).  This could be a southeastern US hackerspace experience; I only know
of a few west coast US hackerspaces seem to have an activist element, and I
can't speak for the rest of the world.

We joke that it would be awesome to have a corporate/government mole at
Freeside; they'd be the ones doing the dishes and keeping the space clean.
 I mean, if some corporation is seriously threatened by some geeks with
half-working 3D printers, then that company needs some serious
introspection on how they conduct business and why they're slumming it at
the local hackerspace, searching for innovation and competitive edge.

> Fefe has a few points lined out here in german:
> http://blog.fefe.de/?ts=afed4222 for those interested.

>From the Google-translated German (I don't know German), is he implying
that some front group did a study for BP on activists?  Is there any solid
proof of that?  I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm just curious.

If that is true, then BP must be seriously fragile if they fear some
protesters can actually produce any negative effects on their business
practices and profits - and that should be some really good news to the
people against BP, because it's news to me that the activist tactics of the
last decade has substantially altered the balance of power to favor
working-class people and consumers, in any context.

> I'm not saying don't cooperate or all researcher on this topic is evil
> to begin with - but think about how little is known about the
> social/networking structures of current day bankers, politicians,
> lobbyists and their potential political implications. Maybe keep that
> in mind, and the fact that the hacker community already has much more
> open resources publicly on the web than those groups when answering
> any such questions.

It's that accessibility to resources that makes hackerspaces an attractive
topic (and maybe some of it is people with no clue that the "hacker" in
hackerspace does not mean "black hat netsec researcher").  Most researchers
and journalists aren't going to do the investigative legwork required to
truly look into the byzantine mess of bankers, politicians, and lobbyists -
precisely because it's difficult work, very inaccessible, and this type of
work even when paraded in front of the public, rarely results in even
moderate changes to that entrenched system, so it's ultimately completely

I'm not saying this work isn't essential or important, but given a choice
between studying an open group and a closed, shadowy group the former is a
lot easier.
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