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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), who belonged to the 2nd generation of Legion of Doom.
Considered a cornerstone of hacker culture, 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.
When asked about his motivation for writing the article, Blankenship said,
I was going through hacking withdrawal, and Craig/Knight Lightning needed something for an upcoming issue of Phrack. I was reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and was very taken with the idea of revolution.
At a more prominent public event, when asked about his arrest and motivation for writing the article, Blankenship said,
I was just in a computer I shouldn’t have been. And [had] a great deal of empathy for my friends around the nation that were also in the same situation. This was post-WarGames, the movie, so pretty much the only public perception of hackers at that time was ‘hey, we’re going to start a nuclear war, or play tic-tac-toe, one of the two,’ and so I decided I would try to write what I really felt was the essence of what we were doing and why we were doing it.
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.
- "Elf Qrin interviews The Mentor".
- The Mentor. "The Conscience of a Hacker" 1 (7). Phrack, Inc.: 3 of 10. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- Thomas, Douglas (2003). Hacker Culture. University of Minnesota Press. pp. xxiv. ISBN 978-0-8166-3346-3.
- Marsh, Josh (November 4, 2013). "Hacking and Philosophy: The Mentor’s Manifesto". Hackaday.com. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- Blankenship, Lloyd (July 13, 2002). ""The Conscience of a Hacker," Panel at H2K2 (Hackers on Planet Earth)". New York, NY: 2600. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "The Mentor at H2K2". Archived from the original on 2005-04-14. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- "Mark Zuckerberg's letter to investors: 'The Hacker Way'". February 1, 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2014.