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Paul Mobbs &
Mobbs' Environmental Investigations –

Work Archive –
Themes Index:

Hacktivism

I've worked primarily with community groups for many years – mostly in the UK, but also in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The materials produced from that work have relevance not just to the people who commissioned them, but many other communities too. For that reason I maintain an on-line archive of my work.

For details of the licensing restrictions on using these resources, see the Copyright and Sharing page.

Work Archive:
'Themes' Index

Articles

Handouts

Infographics

Media Coverage

Podcasts

Presentations

Ramblinactivist

Reports/Research

Themes

Activism

Climate

Cyberwarfare

Ecological Limits

Energy

FLOSSH

'Fracking'

Hacktivism

Nuclear

'Outdoors'

Peace

Permaneering

Planning

Pollution/Waste

Simplicity/Less

Quakerism

Video and Audio

The 'Hacktivism' theme covers my work around issues of digital and data-based activism. The word itself is a contraction of the term 'Hacking' and 'Activism' – and these days tends to meant an awful lot of different things depending who is describing it.

I began playing with computers in 1980, and started using them in support of my activism work around 1986/7. I got on-line in 1989. Consequently my work has always had a strong relationship to the use of digital technologies in support of community-based activism.

You should also view the related sections covering The Container Project, and also electrohippies Archive.


The 'Hacktivism' Theme

inc image 'Open Source Intelligence' for Activists

August 2016

Computers and the Internet have, for more than twenty years, been an essential part of environmental and social activism in Britain. However, their use is challenged by the rise of "post-truth" politics – the use of an ideological- or public-relations-led approach to policy and decision-making where facts are often not just bent, they're deliberately ignored.

file icon download poster presentation
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inc image The Gnu/Linux Operating System

August 2016

There is a "free" alternative to Microsoft Windows available. It is 'free' because you can: download it for free; you can make copies and give to friends; and, if you develop the skills, you can modify how it works to suit your requirements and share those changes – without getting sued for copyright infringement. It's called Linux – and if you haven't heard about it you should ask yourself why, and why you're not using it.

file icon download poster presentation
1.2 megabytes



inc image Mobbsey's Musings: 'An activists' guide to the 'Snooper's Charter' – and what to do about it'

10/11/2015

The so called "Snooper's Charter", the draft of which was introduced to Parliament by the Home Secretary on 4th November 2015, has created a media furore. It may appear to be threatening, anti-democratic and downright repressive, especially if you use technology as a de-skilled 'consumer' – without questioning how it works or what private information you exchange when using it. In practice, for those who have a working knowledge of communications technologies – certainly trained terrorists, organised criminals and fraudsters – many aspects of the draft bill are not threatening at all. If you use the technology in a certain way you can, to a certain extent, hide your on-line life from surveillance.

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inc image On-line activism and digital technology

August 2014

Every year I like to do workshops at The Green Gathering, Britain's premiere eco-festival. In 2014 I did three different workshops over the week – one of which later turned up on the Internet.

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inc image Phones, Drones and Self-driving Automobiles: Pervasive technology and the rise of the "surveillance state"

July 2014

"Phones, Drones and Self-driving Automobiles" is th e Free Range Network's latest workshop project. It examines not just how the Internet and our everyday communications are used as a mechanism for surveillance. It ties recent policy changes to both the changing military philosophy over "the war on terror", and how changing technology has enabled a smaller group of people to wield more power across society.

file icon download poster presentation
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inc image Mobbsey's Musings: 'Efficacy versus the Panopticon – the significance of psychology over dataveillance in the PRISM debate'

15/06/2013

The great media panic during June is of course the PRISM scandal – the "not-news" that the world's intelligence agencies are spying on their publics, not just their enemies (not-news because I thought it was common knowledge, certainly since the disclosure of the ECHELON and Carnivore programmes over a decade ago). My problem with the PRISM debate to date (apart from the irrational, Hollywood-fuelled paranoia over surveillance) is that most commentators have been concentrating on the technology and its legal implications, rather than asking about the motivations behind these programmes.

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inc image Ecolonomics no.12: "Promulgating the Web's calorie controlled diet" – web design, environmental impact and the much ignored ecological efficiency of the Internet

23/05/2011

I'm feeling pretty awful; for the last few days I've been laid low with a bug that just won't go away. As I sit, trying to find something to do, it occurs to me that I could catch-up on some of the really tedious, dead-head chores that I've been putting off for a while. If I feel so awful, how more awful can it be to do those things that I never feel like doing in any case? I begin by trying to write a long-overdue beginner's guide to the Linux command line interface – I get as far as designing a rather entertaining logo before realising this requires far too much brain power for my current state of mind! Then I remember the "design statement" for the Free Range Activism Web Site. That requires measuring lots of web pages to demonstrate, statistically, why the design system for the FRAW site is, ecologically, better than mainstream design methods. Hmmn, yeah, downloading lots of web pages, categorising their component parts and then spreadsheeting the results for later analysis. OK, as occupations go it's the digital equivalent of watching paint dry, but right now I feel that I can do that!

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inc image Global Information Society Watch 2010

November 2010

A significant commission in 2010 was writing the thematic introduction for the Association for Progressive Communications and Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation's annual report, 'Global Information Society Watch'. The theme of the report was, "Focus on ICTs and environmental sustainability" – and as part of my general research touch upon the ecological impacts of electronics and technology the editors welcomed my input. As a result I wrote the introduction to the report, as well as the UK country report.

file icon The complete 'GISW 2010' report
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file icon GISW 2010: 'Introduction'
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file icon GISW 2010: 'UK Country Report'
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inc image Ecolonomics no.3: The Trap – Technology, the Virtual World, and Hacking the Meanings of Society

25/08/2009

The predominant view of how we radically change society is by "taking over"; revolutions – be they political, technological, intellectual, or merely the sophistry of the marketing profession – represent the succession of one dominant culture by the next, and are the means by which we take one way of viewing society can supplant it with another. But in a society where our relations are increasingly virtual, and we put our faith into mechanistic systems to handle our lives – not through conscious understanding but by attaching abstract meaning to technologically mediated interaction – is that view of changing society still valid?

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inc image Free Range Sheet Q2: Britain's Secretive Police Force – Politicising the Policing of Public Expression in an Era of Economic Change

April 2009

The role of NETCU, WECTU and NPOIU – private organisations that are exercising public functions in relation to policing policy – can be seen from two extreme points of view: groups working on policy and in a policing support role to protect the public; or, under the guise of countering "extremism", developing policies to crack down on campaigning groups in a way that could be seen as the kernel of what could eventually become a truly "secret" police force. This report examines what NETCU, WECTU and NPOIU are, and poses the question as to whether private organisations working unaccountably outside of the mainstream police service are compatible with the operation of a free, open and accountable society.

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inc image Free Range Sheet J4: Upgrading Old Computers – Recycling old technology with Gnu/Linux

March 2009

The computer world is obsessed with the utterly non-ecological trends of "bigger", "faster", and "newer"; much of the world's computer equipment is discarded not because it is broken, but because of the development of larger, more bloated software that requires faster computers to run it. This unit looks at the alternative option – recycling and upgrading old computer equipment to give it new uses.

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inc image The Community-Linux Training Centre

2008

A slide presentation on the 'Community Linux Training Centre', a recycled open-source ICT edication and training platform.

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inc image Salvage Server Project 'Case Study' No.1: A Gnu/Linux Laptop for a Community Recycling Organisation

March 2005

This first case study from the SSP project dives straight in the deep end – installing a Gnu/Linux system on a recycled laptop. This report outlines some of the problems inherent to installing a Linux­based laptop, and ideas for installing a system specifically for use in a small community group.

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1 megabytes



inc image CLTC Practice Briefing 1: The Gnu/Linux Operating System

December 2003

This, rather wordy introduction to the Linux system is intended to provide background information on Linux, and what it is. It does not provide any practical guidance. Instead it conveys the theoretical concepts that will help you understand how the Linux operating system works.

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130.7 kilobytes



inc image Community-Linux Training Centre Project Documentation: First Year Project Update

October 2003

The Community–Linux Training Centre Project has been developed as a means of promoting the use of Gnu/Linux for education and training amongst community organisations and grassroots activists. This briefing outline the concepts behind the project, and the progress to date.

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inc image Free Range Bulletin 03/1: Broken Windows with Stronger Fences

August 2003

Many people do not like the practices of large multinational corporations. Some work actively to campaign against such organisations, and change the system for something better. Why then do the majority of these people hand over control of their computers to a monopoly corporation, Microsoft, and pay large sums of money for the privilege of using insecure software?

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inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/B: Designing the Community-Linux Training Centre System

January 2003

This section outlines the technical criteria behind the development of the CLTC system. In particular, it looks at the importance of specifying the design of the local area network in advance of setting-up/installing the hardware.

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inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/A: Developing the Community–Linux Training Centre

January 2003

This first section provides an introduction to four differing views of the project - the history of the design, the objective of a 'community' Linux project, the financial aspects, and the potential uses of the CLTC system.

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128.5 kilobytes



inc image ICT Policy: A Beginner's Handbook

2003

Produced the the Association for Progressive Communications, this is a guide to global information and communications technology (ICT) policy, and the benefits and threats to the development of civil society groups as ICT developed globally. I was one of the contributing writers of the report on the sections related to surveillance, data retention, cybercrime, terrorism, freedom of expression and cybercrime.

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6.2 megabytes



inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 7: Living Under Surveillance – Working around and avoiding where possible the impacts of state and corporate surveillance

2002

Surveillance is the art of monitoring the activities of persons or groups without them knowing they are being monitored. Surveillance has been an intrinsic part of human history. Counter surveillance is the practise of avoiding or making surveillance difficult. Before computer networks, counter surveillance involved avoiding agents and communicating secretly. With recent development of the Internet and computer databases counter surveillance has grown. Now counter surveillance involves everything from knowing how to delete a file on a computer to avoiding becoming the target of direct advertising agencies.

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PDF version
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inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 6: Using the Internet Securely – How to work on-line in ways which protect your security, privacy and identity

2002

The Internet is an open network; any point on the network can be accessed from any other. This is what makes the Internet a publicly accessible mass medium. It also makes using the Internet a security risk – through the information you give out, and through the opportunities it gives other people to impact upon your work.

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inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 5: Computer Viruses – Understanding how viruses work and learning to avoid them

2002

A virus is an executable programme, a set of instructions that manipulate the functions of your computer's operating system. The early, simple computer viruses consisted of just two commands – firstly a check for a particular condition (be it the date or some other criteria) and then a call to the program that formats the computer's hard disk. Many of the earlier viruses were transmitted from file-to-file on a computer as people shared files or floppy disks. Today the most common way to catch a virus is via the Internet. But instead of something simple, such as formatting your hard disk, Internet-borne viruses are far more complex. Many will read your email address book and forward themselves, when you next check your email, to all your friends.

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inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 4: Using Encryption and Digital Signatures – Protecting your information and identity using electronic codes and ciphers

2002

Encryption is a means of encoding information so that it cannot be decoded and read without a 'key'. Computers have revolutionised encryption because they can encode and decode at high speed and encryption programs now come as 'plug-ins' for a lot of common software. They can also use far more complex systems of encryption that are far harder to break.

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inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 3: Passwords and Access Controls – Controlling access to information with with words, keys and digital locks

2002

'Access control' is all about ensuring that information is accessible to those who need it, but not to those who do not. This is not always as straightforward as it seems; being too strict about access can deny information to those need it.

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inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 2: Backing Up Your Data – How to look after your electronic information to prevent loss and corruption

2002

Information on your computer is vulnerable: hard disks can fail, computer systems can fail, viruses can wipe a disk, careless operators can delete files, and very careless operators can delete whole areas of the hard disks by mistake. Computers can also be damaged or stolen. For these reasons backing-up your data is essential. This involves making copies of essential files on your system and keeping them on another computer, or on some form of storage media.

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255.5 kilobytes



inc image 'Participating With Safety' Unit 1: Introducing Information Security – How to protect your information and computer systems

2002

Using computers is a complex business. To use them properly you must learn not only how to use the functions of the word processor or database that you rely on; you also need to learn how to organise your computer and the information it contains in order to protect against the accidental loss of information. It is also important to prepare your computer, your information and your premises, for the possibility of deliberate external damage, which could be caused by computer viruses, interception, monitoring or physical raids by the state or other forces which oppose your work.

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inc image 'Participating With Safety': Introduction

2002

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has developed a series of briefings to help those working on-line improve the security of their computer and on-line communications. The briefings were developed as part of a project aimed at improving the on-line security of computer users such as journalists and human rights workers. But the content of the briefings is relevant for all those working on-line.

file icon HTML web page version
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HTML glossary for units
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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 15: New Terrorism Legislation – How new terrorism legislation may criminalise the work of protest groups

2002

A review of the new terrorism legislation introduced in the UK, and its implications for protest action. In particular, how the approach of the UK on terrorism has shifted from defining terrorism as violence against the state to any type of action that involves some type of property damage and that'seeks to change the mind of government'.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 14: Keeping Your System Secure – Basic information on how to protect systems and networks when working online

2002

A brief guide to information and network security for the average Internet users, for those with web site, and for those who run servers connected to the Internet. It looks at basic security measures for connecting to the Internet and running a web site. It also considers the range of threats to those who run computers continuously connected to the Internet.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 13: Interception and Surveillance – The RIP Act and its implications for individuals and service providers

2002

The impacts on privacy of new laws requiring communications service providers to copy traffic data and other information to the security services. In particular, the threat that the mass collection and databasing of traffic data represents to civil liberties. The briefing also reviews the legal position of service providers to comply with the government's orders to tap communications, the new legal principle of 'common purpose', and the implications at the European level of the Cybercrime Convention.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 12: Civil Rights and Internet Regulation – How proposals to control the Internet affect our civil rights

2002

A discussion of the need to extend the existing scope of human rights into the digital domain. How the current human rights legislation supports the use of the Internet by civil society, but how this use is being increasingly restricted by corporations and states afraid of the power it gives. The content of the APC's Internet Rights Charter, and the process by which it was devised, is also discussed.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 11: Media Regulation and Convergence – The impact of the new digital media on society

2002

An examination of how digital technology is changing the nature of the mass media. Also, how the convergence of different communications technologies will provide civil society with a new opportunity to access the mass media. It also considers the current UK and European policies on regulating the new digital media, and the role civil society has in this process in lobbying for open access to the new digital media.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 10: Electronic Rights in the Workplace – Changes to workers rights and employers responsibilities in the new information economy

2002

A short briefing on the rights of employees in the workplace. It covers the rights of those employed to use information services, and the regard to be had to their privacy by employers. It also covers the role of freelance and contract workers in the IT industry.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 9: Expression and Defamation – Your rights to free speech online, and when free speech transgresses the boundary of defamation

2002

A review of the rights to free expression and privacy, and when expression can cross the boundaries fo the law and become defamation. The laws on slander and libel are outlined. There is also an outline of the use of defamation actions to curb legitimate free speech, and on the increasing use of blocking and filtering systems to limit free expression.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 8: Computer Crime – The law on the misuse of computers and networks

2002

A look at the law on computer crime, and how it applies to the deliberate or accidental use of computers. The briefing looks at the Computer Misuse Act, as well as other legislation on fraud, forgery and racial or sexual abuse.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 7: Intellectual Property – Protecting ideas in the new information economy

2002

Intellectual property laws are the core of the new information society. This briefing looks at what intellectual property is, how the laws work, and ways in which problems with intellectual property can be avoided. The briefing also considers the challenge to the traditional notion of intellectual property by the open content movement.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 6: Campaigning Online – Using the Internet to get your point across

2002

Documents the growing significance of the Internet as a media for campaigning and lobbying. It considers how the different elements of the Internet can be used for developing online campaigns and collaborative working, and provides examples of current successful online campaigns. It also considers the increasing importance of multimedia to the development of online campaigns, especially the streaming of video.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 5: Privacy and Surveillance – How and when organisations and the state can monitor your actions

2002

The use of surveillance and data profiling techniques by the state and corporations, and how it may affect your privacy. The briefing looks at the way in which both passive and directed surveillance are being used to monitor the activities of citizens, and what is done with the data this produces. It also considers how the routine surveillance of the Internet is becoming a key part of the security activities of states through mechanisms such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Cybercrime Convention.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 4: E-Consumer Protection – Buying and carrying out business transactions online

2002

How to ensure that you can enforce your rights as a consumer online. The briefing outlines the requirements of the Distance Selling Regulations, and how they apply to buying goods online. Links are also provided to other guides and accreditation schemes that help you ensure the organisations you buy online from will be able to deliver the goods.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 3: Using Encryption and Digital Signatures – How to protect privacy, and your identity, online

2002

The use of encryption and digital signatures to protect your privacy and identity. The briefing looks at how encryption works. In particular, the use of the popular public key encryption program PGP. It also reviews the laws on the use of encryption, and the potential future developments in the use of encrypted services.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 2: Data Protection – The protection of privacy and your rights to information held by others about you

2002

A review of the laws on data protection, and the rights of the individual to find out about those organisations who hold personal information about them. The different types of personal information protected under the law are outlined. There are also examples of how to find out the contact details of an organisation holding personal information, and how to request copies of the information they hold about you. There are also details of how to contact the Data Protection Commissioner to complain when you feel that the information collected about you has been misused.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit, Unit 1: An Introduction to the Internet – How it works and what it can do for you

2002

This is a general introduction for those new to the Internet. It explains basic concepts of what the Internet is, how it works, and the different services that are available for you to use. For those new to the Internet, this briefing provides a good starting point to begin working through the other briefings in this series. It also introduces other more technical areas such as scripting, multimedia and streaming/web casting.

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inc image Internet Rights Toolkit: Introduction

2002

The purpose of the 'toolkit briefings' is to explore areas relating to the use of the Internet and Internet rights. The briefings cover a wide range of issues of general and specialist interest. They are available as web pages, but also in Acrobat and other file formats so that they can be printed and supplied as hard copies.

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inc image "Anti-TWAT" (anti-The War Against Terrorism)

November 2001

Anti-TWAT was produced as part of the electrohippies day of action against the Afghan War, which launched a global on-line action from a tipi on top of a mountain in Wales (well, someone had to do it!).

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inc image Infowar: The Hacktivists

2001

During 2001 I worked with an Australian production company to produce a documentary on on-line activism surrounding the FTAA Conference in Quebec. Whilst I appear throughout the 1 hour documentary, this extract shows the section about "the electrohippies", who I with worked on the project.

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inc image The Detractor's Convention: Identifying the future of community-based campaigning

January 2000

This pamphlet is all about managing change. Change can be problematic. The way to make change less problematic is to understand it, and through understanding, take what you can from it to assist and reinforce your own position. This process of characterising the effects of societal change on organisations and individuals, and then creating responses to this, can create divisions. The differing ideas and approaches on responding to change are especially likely to create divisions within larger organisations. Divisions can then go on to affect how people operate, and distract them from the real objectives they commonly hold.

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102 kilobytes



inc image The Electrohippies Really Badly Edited Video (TERBEV)

2000

How to make a video without real editing equipment? This clip is from a video where the electrohippies had a weekend making a video without proper equipment – hence, "Really Badly Edited"

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inc image Protest and the Net

November 1999

Channel 4 might not have been keen, but the BBC were really interested in my work. We took over some tables the end of the cybercafé at the top of George Street in Oxford, I gave then an hour's tuition on what the issue was about (whilst they plied me with coffee!), and this was the result.

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inc image N30

November 1999

This was Channel 4's second hacktivism item in November 1999 – again, I didn't really feature because I think they wanted to visually portray your typical anarchist, not a computer geek! A pity, as Mark Easton and his film crew took up quite a few hours of my time, and it was quite difficult fitting them all into my workshop!

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4.8 megabytes



inc image Internet Anarchists

November 1999

I got a call from Channel 4 as a result of some of the technical workshops we'd been running on Internet and campaigns (somehow my name was dropped out of the electro-ether). I gave them some ideas.

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14.1 megabytes



inc image The Campaigners' Computer Maintenance Mantra

1996

A little funny verse to get campaigners to look after their technology... "This is my computer. There are many like it but this one is mine..."

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