Chapter 7. Behind the Walls

The group of people that surprised us the most, both with their numbers and their contributions, were prisoners.

When you think about it, there really shouldn't be that much of a shock. After all, what is there to do when you're in confinement but to try and use your brain as much as possible? I guess what got to me the most was realizing how hard these people were willing to work to stay sane and not fade into the background.

The hacker mindset is an amazing thing in and of itself. You put that in a place like prison and fascinating interactions start to occur. First off, they're two diametrically opposed forces: the pinnacle of conformity and rule-following matched with a curious, observant, and rebellious individual. To say that this created problems would be a vast understatement.

We devoted many pages of the magazine to the prisoners most of us have heard of: Kevin Mitnick, Phiber Optik, Bernie S. These were icons in the hacker world, and their tales of injustice infuriated and motivated so many of us. But there were a vast number of others, some imprisoned because of their hacker activities, some for completely different reasons. The common thread that links all of these people held behind bars is the fact that they never gave up their unique perspective and humanity, despite so much pressure to do so by the powerful entities in charge. In accomplishing this, they managed to inspire those of us lucky enough to avoid such a fate.

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