[Noisebridge-discuss] What is the true hacker ethic?

John Menerick john.menerick at gmail.com
Sun Jun 14 04:52:40 UTC 2009

Remove the boredom and frustrations when one careens into the  
limitations of society.

John Menerick

On Jun 13, 2009, at 9:06 PM, Geoff Schmidt wrote:

> Hacker culture has spread far and wide. Today I was thinking about the
> hacker ethic: the idea or value that unifies hacker culture. It
> occurred to me that different people see the hacker ethic in different
> ways.
> ** "Outsider" version of the hacker ethic **
> We will do whatever is necessary to do to (metaphorically) break into
> the citadel where the information is kept. We will grab whatever we
> can and flee back to the tribe. There we will celebrate a successful
> heist from the Man. Sometimes we get plans for a self-reproducing
> plasma cutter.. sometimes we get obsolete Bell System technical
> manuals of no objective value whatsoever. Either way the raid was
> important and we celebrate it and add another story to our growing
> historical tradition.
> We are like a Matrix-style resistance movement struggling to survive
> on the fringe of society against the growing power of the Machine. For
> the future of mankind, we have to defend the tribe and our traditions.
> ** "Contributor" version of the hacker ethic **
> It is really great to completely figure something out. And if we are
> curious and focused, we should be able to completely figure anything
> out, on our own initiative and under our own power. Based on the
> things we figure out, we can make real contributions to the human
> race: things that move the world forward. And because our allegiance
> is to understanding and truth, we will be ruthlessly self-critical of
> our abilities and contributions. To stay objective and avoid jealousy,
> we'll have to base our self-esteem on our shared commitment to truth
> rather than on our personal accomplishments.
> Instead of seeing ourselves as Prometheus, we see ourselves as the  
> gods.
> --
> Now, here's what I think: the Outsider hacking ethic is a fun game
> when you're 16, but it's total bullshit when you're 21. We should
> strive to be Contributors, and where we find Outsiders, we should
> change their minds. And we will change their minds by helping them
> have faith in their abilities, and by holding them to higher
> expectations.
> If you agree with me, what do you think we can do to encourage the
> Contributor ethic in the broader DIY/underground community?
> geoff
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