Cyberpunk Review » The Freehacker’s Union, because “Business Is Killing The Art Of The Hack”

August 26, 2008

The Freehacker’s Union, because “Business Is Killing The Art Of The Hack”

Source: Zed Shaw’s blog, The Freehacker’s Union

When Zed Shaw lost his V.P. job because Bear Stearns went FUBAR, he found himself with more free time (and severance $$$$$) than he can handle. So now he wants to start a special group for hackers:

This rant is about an idea I have for a group of geeks who fight to keep the art of hacking and invention alive. I want to call it The Freehacker’s Union. I want it to be against business, against the coopting and destruction of geek culture, and for preserving hacking and invention as methods of personal artistic expression.

His profile does make him sound like a dick, but he seems to have the tech ability to back it up. Plus his idea of a hacking group devoid of the co-opting that businesses and crime groups are now doing has to be good news for old-school hacker purists.


Really, what’s his motivation? “This town needs an enema,” proclaims Zed as he describes the New York City hacking scene being co-opted and corrupted. He remembers when hacking was for the adventurous, not venture capitalists:

Then it hit me, it’s the business that’s killing tech in this city. The business of technology in New York values douchebag asswipes and “idea guys” over the real people who built this world. Their ideas are shit, but because they have an MBA from Columbia (they didn’t do much to earn) they are listened to and valuable. Me and the other hackers are just tools, cogs, and slave labor designed to be subservient to a real man’s passions.

The problem is, because none of these dicks do anything they don’t know what’s a real technically challenging innovation. They would rather try to make a little bit of money making a slightly better version of whatever everyone else is making. They want the lottery tickets and the fast payout where they take all the fucking money and trade the geeks over to Google or Microsoft like some fucking slave exchange.

Zed’s rules of The Freehacker’s Union:

I want the rules of The Freehacker’s Union to be:

1. If it’s art, wires, or code you can bring it. This will be our triad: art/wires/code. Remember it.
2. NO FUCKING BUSINESS ASSHOLES This isn’t your personal fucking recruiting station. Take your “game changing” ideas and fuck the hell off.
3. If you can’t sling at least one of the three in the A/W/C triad then you can’t come. No exceptions.
4. Everyone who attends has to eventually show something. If it’s your first night, you have to present something. It can be anything, but you gotta show that you belong. If you can’t then you can’t come back until you can. For those who absolutely can’t talk in front of people, you can get someone to show your stuff on your behalf.
5. No girlfriends or boyfriends unless they’re hardcore too. Keep your fucking groupies at home.
6. Organized using simple software that’s open. No special hidden jabber servers, no yahoo groups, no fucking evite or someone’s favorite latest startup website. Just a simple mailing list, a website anyone can manage, and maybe a channel on IRC.
7. Frequent meetings at a regular time and spot. I like twice a month, but hell if people can handle more then I want to do it.
8. Clear guidelines on how to become a member, including the benefits and responsibilities.

Other than that, I’m open to suggestions. I’m going to be doing more writing on this subject, and coming up with ideas with friends, and then I’ll announce our first meeting. If you have thoughts, or you want to attend, then let me know.

If you’re an Alpha Biz Guy then fuck off. I don’t want to hear about how you can kick my ass and how I’m never going to get hired again.

I don’t give a fuck about you, I just want to hack and you’re fucking that up for me.

Let the games begin!


The Freehacker’s Union now has a site where you can check to see if you want to join a local or possibly start one.

Sounds like this could be fun…

This post has been filed under HackZ AttackZ!, Internet Find by Mr. Roboto.


August 26, 2008

Utopiah said:

Personal tip:
- discover the CCC aka Chaos Computer Club
- go to Burning Man
- participate to Upgrade!
- stop thinking you can be “out of the economical loop” just because you sound rude…

Anyway, I’m not being nice but I actually do understand the point of view and many others do too. Hope his project will stay true to his values, maybe that’s the real challenge, let’s the Artist life begin ;)

Kovacs said:

Right… and then the Hackers Union becomes the New Establishment and the cycle continues again in 5 years.

Mr No 1 said:

0.o I like the idea behind it, but those rules and stuff… man, what kinda elitist school playground this came from?

August 31, 2008

cable5 said:

yeah, lol, if he’d had no brains he’d be just laughed at as an idiot.
now he’s actually got some brains for hacking, and is supposed to be a philosophy hero?


September 9, 2008

Firehead said:

this is so dumb… seriously, it’ll never work.

October 1, 2008

Bookmarks about Hardcore said (pingback):

[…] - bookmarked by 4 members originally found by chrystan on 2008-09-10 The Freehacker’s Union, because “Business Is Killing The Art Of The Hack” […]

June 7, 2011

spiralofhope said:

The essay was moved here:

The explanation of its failure was posted here:

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