Hacker e-zine nears final issue

Phrack, “a Hacker magazine by the community, for the community,” has been published via textfile since 1985, and is calling it quits four months shy of its 20th birthday.

I’ve read Phrack periodically since I don’t even remember when. I don’t think I ever read it during my BBS days, which ran about 1985-1988, though I do remember it from my early pre-web internet days, starting around 1993. Then I’d catch it on Gopher sites and Usenet.

Much of the content is way over my head, since I’m not a real computer hacker. But the fact that this resource exists fascinates me, since I do subscribe to the hacker ethic of exploring technologies to discover how they work.

Not all of the articles are about computers, per se. For instance, the last issue contains an article on radio hacking, including theory and circuit design.

It seems like publishing has been pretty slow for the last few years, down to only about one issue a year. I don’t know if that’s why they’re calling it quits — textfile e-zines are a bit of an antiquity at this time, given that blogs and other content management systems allow a website to be updated quickly and easily. The issue-based or monthly electronic zine seems to be falling out favor, since the need to have a full issue released on a regular basis is kind of a holdover from the print world and the pre-web internet where servers were fewer in number, and dynamic publishing not as easy to accomplish.

Nevertheless, the nicely self-contained package of a single-issue textfile is much easier to archive and keep than an ever-changing dynamic website. It may be that these discrete textfiles will live on much longer than long-abandoned websites.