Appreciation for Philip Serracino-Inglott: ‘Is it ok to be anonymous?’

By Anthony Serracino-Inglott

23 December 2015, 9:51am
Philip Serracino-Inglott
Philip Serracino-Inglott
Today marks the second anniversary of the death of Philip Serracino-Inglott, who is probably best remembered in Malta for his quick mind at computer programming at a very early age.

He studied at the University of Malta, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Studies and Philosophy – a unique combination which influenced his later work.

After working for the Fondazzjoni Temi Zammit, where he was the leader of e-learning initiatives and introducing Science in the City in Malta for the first time, he continued his studies at Enschede in The Netherlands, where he wrote a thesis on philosophical issues in advanced Computer Technology.

His external advisor, the well known philosopher David Koepsell, described Philip’s Masters project as “sophisticated and superior to some PhD theses”. Philip is however more recognised in the international philosophy groups for his publications, as a PhD candidate, at Delft at the Technology and Innovation Department of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management of the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands on the collective known Anonymous. 

The publication, a 10,000 word piece with 92 references on the group Anonymous: Is it OK to be Anonymous, was both incisive and bold. His general project was to explore deviance on the internet in an attempt to try to describe its ethos. The publication dealt with hackers, vigilantes, punishment, DDoS, violence online, deviance, cyber attack, ethics online, internet activism and digital revolution. 

In his short life, Philip talked significantly about ‘hacking’ in the broadest sense, and he was an expert hacker of all things, delving into how things worked, tinkering with electronics, cooking, computers and anything that could be tinkered with. The significance of his writing came more to light when it was in these last months recognised that the group Anonymous posed a very relevant contribution to destroy the media weapons of heartless terrorists, perhaps even more effective than weapons of mass destruction which bring a toll on innocents hit with the guilty.

Philip’s contribution was recognised by the University of Delft, when he was granted the TU Delft Library Open Access Publications Award and through the organisation of an amazing commemorative academic ceremony which was attended by a large gathering of family, friends and colleagues from different countries.

More significantly an Annual Academic Award in his name was installed at the 3TU Delft Ethics Centre. Philip’s death has left a hole in the Centre of Ethics and Technology at Delft but more importantly in the hearts and lives of those he touched while he was here in this world. 

His contributions are still vividly cherished today, both intellectually and emotionally by all his family and the world as evidenced by the number of PhD graduates who acknowledged his intellectual contribution to their lives in their own theses. Some of these works, which are found on the library shelves of reputable universities are dedicated to him.

The most recent acknowledgement was that by University of Malta PhD graduate, Louise Grech who in her dedication described Philip as a lost friend and great mind who has relit in her the enthusiasm and courage of thought, writing and living and that partly her PhD was completed because of his inspiration.

Family and friends and colleagues will be laying flowers on Wednesday, 23 December at 10.00 am at the Tarxien Tal-Erwieh Church Cemetery in his memory.