When I had an opportunity to become the editor-in-chief at The Washington Pastime, I was thrilled. Not just because it was a tremendous opportunity, but because it was also a dream. It was always a goal of mine to help facilitate aspiring writers’ stories. Being part of that, behind the scenes was like a surgeon dissecting his first organ.
It was ugly, and challenging, and worthwhile and mesmerizing. I was reading a lot of really great stories, and making decisions every day without a thought of monetary consequence (because free literature doesn’t generate much money). The result was simply good literature, and my own personal dedication to providing sound writerly advice to authors — all of whom I wanted to succeed.
But, as is often the case, my dreams and work was derailed. Not by my own doing, but nevertheless — there it is. Being a digital only magazine in the year 2012 (where content is stored digitally as well) carries with it some inherent risks. Those risks are compounded when you can’t (as in the case of an essentially non-revenue producing website) afford proper security measures to stop malicious digi. evil-doers. And the internet is a dangerous place.
So, when my website — my company — my dream, was hacked, I was stuck. I didn’t know HTML code. I didn’t know how to fortify my website, or look into hosting security. I’m a writer, and I don’t have a team of IT professionals to handle this sort of thing. I had only just saved enough money to make a huge digital investment (an app…) in the company, and that was done. The money was gone.
What’s left? A digital platform that has been taken to the brink of destruction by malware and the hacker(s) who decided to take it down. To me, though, this was a symbolic assassination.
Their target, AKA my website, was defenseless. There would (and could not be) any sort of fight. It’s like a baby being shot in the head with a gun. Who knows what it might’ve been? I know that’s a violent analogy, but this was a violent act.
After all, no one should take an attack like this lightly. Because what’s at stake isn’t something as trivial and tangible as an individual’s livelihood or even reputation. This was a literary magazine — a place where stories were born, where ideas were perpetuated. It was democracy in action; speech was given for free, opinions were heard and differences were put aside in a universal celebration of story-telling.
In that lens, how could this destruction be coincidental? Whether it was a disgruntled author who had reached his or her limit in rejection letters, a foreign hacker picking sites at random to pass some hacker test, or a domestic terrorist, spiteful in the face of an opinion that wasn’t his or her own, this was violent, and hurtful.
My next move is to gather enough money at my other job to be able to give my small business a loan in order to recover its data, and to try and find a more secure host so I can move. I think I’ve also learned the hard way the value of tangible literature. (I know I’ve mentioned this in my argument against e-books, but this is a perfect example of the risk of digital literature: it’s fleeting. As I’ve learned first hand, with one click, it can be erased. You can’t hide from it. You can only ever buy your way to safety.
If you would like to donate to the HELP REBUILD THE WASHINGTON PASTIME fund, please donate to its paypal account (washingtonpastime@Gmail.com).
- Words Are My Weapon: Democracy
- Words Are My Weapon: The Tipping Point