Byron Sonne and the “H” word.

hacklabto Press Pass

Last night I visited hacklab.to to attend an information session about jailed security expert Byron Sonne. I even got to wear this nifty press badge, the first time I’ve had such an honour if I’m honest.

From where l was sitting the room did not appear to be filled with Black Bloc anarchists plotting to overthrow the Canadian government, merely a small group of very bright people concerned about a friend.

As there is a publication ban on Mr. Sonne’s ongoing bail hearings, I will obviously be respecting that. But if you’re among the growing number of people arriving at this site via a keyword search for Byron Sonne, kindly allow me the opportunity to demystify the term “hacker” for you.

I’ve posted on this very subject before — twice in fact. But if you’ve not the time or interest in reading Pekka Himanen’s The Hacker Ethic let me show you a few examples of what hackers do:

And in case you were wondering, here’s what hacklab is all about:

HackLabTO is a non-profit organization which encourages people to socialize, share knowledge, and work together on technology projects. We run classes, workshops, and a community space in Kensington market.

Of course, the word “hacker” has negative connotations as well — you can thank Hollywood and mainstream media for that. Defining a hacker would be a purely semantical argument if all the baggage wasn’t enough to sway public opinion and even get people arrested.

For Byron Sonne Canada’s legal system will decide his fate, sooner or later. For the rest of us, there is an opportunity here to rise above the ignorance and fear surrounding hackers. The first step is to recognize that there are people out there who are smarter than you; the second, that not all of them are out to do wrong.

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