Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls—Oh My!

Before we talk about the phreaks, hackers, and trolls, let’s discuss image editing. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve got some crazy editing skills—just look at this amazing work done on my friend.img_2371Please, hold your applause. Can you tell the beard’s not real? Surprise. Seriously though, my image editing repertoire pretty much only consists of goofy stuff like doodling on preexisting photos (I’d show you the picture of myself that I “edited” to look like a vampire, but I’m trying to maintain some shred of dignity) and cropping pictures—all, mind you, on MS Paint. Fancy-schmancy terms like “layers” and “optimizing” elude me. I’ve seen a few YouTube videos of people editing photos and I must say, I’m impressed. Even a touch of editing can make a photo look incredible. For example, this puppy photo I found on someone’s profile on a website called “We Heart It”:

Yeah, I know, another puppy picture. What? I like dogs…

The pastel tint on the photo immediately brought to mind the term “saturation,” so I looked it up. According to my dear friend Google, “Saturation (or ‘chroma’) defines the intensity of a hue. Vivid primary colours are highly saturated, while pastel colours are unsaturated.” Therefore, this picture is unsaturated. Neat. I’m a bit nervous about having to actually edit images, because from what I’ve heard, it’s quite an arduous process; however, I’m willing to give it a go.

Now, let’s talk about the phreaks, hackers, and trolls. (There’s really no smooth way to segue from one topic to the other here, sorry.) When I think of a hacker, I imagine some guy wearing an Anonymous mask, typing rapidly, his computer screen raining binary like in The Matrix. Coleman mentions in the opening of her article that hackers follow a “hacker ethic”—“shorthand for a mix of aesthetic and pragmatic imperatives: a commitment to information freedom, a mistrust of authority, a heightened dedication to meritocracy, and the firm belief that computers can be the basis for beauty and a better world” (99). Sounds like they’re the heroes we need, but not the ones we deserve… Hackers’ ability to “watch the watchers” made them prime targets to law enforcement, which feared their technological prying. This resulted in the legal prosecution and persecution of hackers, in which “their punishment often exceed[ed] the nature of their crime” (108).

What comes to mind when I picture a troll is an acne-ridden neck-beard, purposely leaving racist or sexist comments on YouTube videos with the intention of stirring up trouble. Coleman writes, “Trolls work to remind the ‘masses’ that have lapped onto the shores of the Internet that there is still a class of geeks who, as their name suggests, will cause Internet grief, hell and misery” (110). She continues to explain that trolls serve a purpose—to “fuck shit up,” mostly, but on a deeper level, to take political correctness and make a mockery out of “the idea that language, much like everything virtual, is anything that should be taken seriously” (111). Personally, I don’t think that’s a good enough justification for the existence of trolls; all they do is spread hate and make people not want to be online. We don’t necessarily need jerks like these to shatter the concept of “political correctness,” especially not in the usually-crude way they do it.

Prior to Coleman’s article, I had no idea what a phreak was. The term “phreak” was once “phone freak,” but was “condensed out of the ambient cultural humidity” (103). These phone freaks were labeled as such due to their brand of hacking: “By 1961, phreakers—although still not named as such—no longer had to rely on perfect pitch to make their way into the phone system. They were building and using an assortment of small electrical boxes, the most famous of these being the Blue Box. This device was used to replicate the tones used by the telephone switching system to route calls, enabling Blue Box users to act as if they were a telephone operator, facilitating their spelunking of the phone system and, for some, free phone calls” (103).


4 thoughts on “Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls—Oh My!

  1. rritaa February 12, 2017 / 8:16 am

    I really like the way your blog is set up I think the banner/header is really cute! It’s clean with just enough color and the typewriter adds some aesthetic. It’s also pretty easy to navigate and straightforward as well. I would suggest putting 5 other blogs from classmates under the blogroll though. I pretty much feel the same way about image editing, I’ve done some stuff but I don’t know the specifics quite yet either.


  2. Jeffrey Gomez February 12, 2017 / 6:19 pm

    Your blog is very simple and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Everything is very accessible and the color scheme you chose is perfect. I enjoyed reading your blog response I too can relate with how you feel about hackers and trolls. When I saw the first picture it immediately made me laugh and the dog also made me smile. Humor is always one of my favorite techniques in writing. Good Job over all and the blog website looks great.


  3. emilymac14 February 12, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    Great job expressing your voice in this post, it showed a lot of personality! I also have spent a little too much time on MS Paint drawing on images of my friends during my middle school days, it was all the rage. You covered the article well, and it was good of you to point out the origin of the term “phreak”. Your blog is clear and easy to read, great start!


  4. afc89 February 13, 2017 / 3:38 am

    Awesome site Alexa. I really like the theme you chose, and your site is very easy to read. The pictures that you posted are also very entertaining. The only advice I can offer is to put some sort of instruction on how a person will be able to submit content to you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s