The Hacker Syndrome tells the story of Stephan Ubach, a man who is slowly revealed as an activist and a hero to those involved in the Arab Spring. A man who, as the story unfolds, forgets his own needs - and breaks down. This is also a story of distance - physical and mental. A story of the importance that information plays in people’s lives and how some people are willing to risk their lives for the world to know what is going on. Radio documentaries and features usually require an emotional attachment to the character, while computers, and often the people who are obsessed with them, are emotionless. There is an inherent conflict here. In The Hacker Syndrome, we rarely feel an emotional link to Stephan Urbach. Maybe he is protecting himself. Maybe the interviewer didn't get close enough. As a listener you might even wonder why you are listening to him - why is this man important? Urbach is merely a stranger to us, it’s impossible to get close - until the story suddenly evolves… Stephan Urbach’s work is questioned by others in the hacker community. And soon the people that Stephan helps are dying. One after another. Stephan Urbach gives us the key to his world when he says: ‘We don’t say good bye in the moment when the person dies anymore, but in the moment when the user is gone.’ And after that, the distance between us - Stephan Urbach and the people that he tries to help - reaches an Archimedean point - we suddenly understand.
Recommended CitationJohnson, Martin, The Hacker Syndrome: Review, RadioDoc Review, 2(2), 2015.