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The Conscience of a Hacker (also known as The Hacker Manifesto) is a small essay written January 8, 1986 by a computer security hacker who went by the handle (or pseudonym) of The Mentor (born Loyd Blankenship). It was written after the author's arrest, and first published in the underground hacker ezine Phrack in Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10. It can be found on many websites, as well as on t-shirts and in films.
It is considered a cornerstone of hacker culture, and it gives some insight into the psychology of early hackers. It is said to have shaped the hacker community's view of itself and its motivations. The Manifesto states that hackers choose to hack because it is a way for them to learn, and because they are often frustrated and bored by the limitations of standard society. It also expresses the satori of a hacker realizing his potential in the realm of computers.
The Manifesto acts as a guideline to hackers across the globe, especially those new to the field. It serves as an ethical foundation for hacking, and asserts that there is a point to hacking that supersedes selfish desires to exploit or harm other people, and that technology should be used to expand our horizons and try to keep the world free.
In popular culture
The article is quoted several times in the 1995 movie Hackers, although in the movie it is being read from an issue of the hacker magazine 2600, not the historically accurate Phrack. It is also reproduced inside the CD case of the computer game Uplink.
A poster of the Hacker Manifesto is displayed in The Social Network in Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room.