It’s always entertaining to read about how hackers envision themselves. In part because I find the rhetoric so personally appealing, and sometimes consider myself to be a hacker. A perfect example is from a recent essay at O’Reilly web, “Real Hacking Rules! Or, Before the Word is Totally Useless, What Is the Essence of Hacking?” Who wouldn’t want to be a hacker after reading:
In essence, hacking is a way of thinking about complex systems. It includes the skills required to cobble together seemingly disparate pieces of a puzzle in order to understand the system; whether modules of code or pieces of a bigger societal puzzle, hackers intuitively grasp and look for the bigger picture that makes sense of the parts. So defined, hacking is a high calling. Hacking includes defining and defending identity, creating safe boundaries, and searching for the larger truth in a maze of confusion and intentional disinformation.
In the national security state that has evolved since World War II, hacking is one means by which a free people can retain freedom. Hacking includes the means and methodologies by which we construct more comprehensive truths or images of the systems we hack.
So is any of this rhetoric actually true? I approach most of this rhetoric as an ideal to which we all can aspire as opposed to a description of the truth. Finding a single definition for a large group of people, such as hackers, is a fool’s errand. To me the variation is where the real interest lies. But the essays of Thieme and others give us a yardstick by which to measure ourselves.