Hacking and the hacker – a general model

Gibson’s character Case is a lot like my best friend – quietly enthusiastic, sassy, and extremely passionate, albeit a sad streak of bad luck that may have gotten in the way. If Himanen’s thought that these energies and an intrinsic motivation is what differentiate the hacker work ethic, then Case is surely an accurate representation of the type. I definitely agree that he is a modern cowboy, too; he was recruited to go after something, and he uses his technological maneuvering to get it. I think hacking is of particular interest to many people because it does not require an unattainable set of skills. It is not a superhuman set of features that one is born with that allow him or her to be so adroit; rather, it is acquired intelligence and practice that make it do-able. That means that, in theory, anyone could do it! The successful, clandestine hacker is attractive because we can be him. He represents a possibility that many admire but few imitate.
Hacking is generally associated with technology, but it certainly isn’t limited to it. I encounter it all the time in much broader areas. On Pinterest, for example, I often stumble across “life hacks,” which are essentially cool tricks or secrets of nature that help overcome the minute hurdles of our lives. Putting a lemon wedge in a pot of boiling eggs will help the shells come right off. Pressing a hot spoon on a mosquito bite will help it shrink and stop the itch. Throwing a wrinkly shirt in the dryer with a few ice cubes will quickly get rid of the wrinkles. These suggestions find creative solutions (the differentiating component) for common problems (the fixed component), which makes me support Wark’s hacking model. I also remember learning hacks in my middle school math classes. Learning tricks like the commutative and distributive properties allow you to do mental math much, much more efficiently. Now that I think about it, I experience hacking way more often in ways that are unrelated to computers.

Anyway, as a supporter of Wark’s model, I think that Gibson supports it well. Wark says that “To hack is to release the virtual into the actual.” While much of Case’s work is done in cyberspace, it has real-world effects. These two worlds of his seem to interact with each other greatly, and at times it is alost hard to differentiate between the two.


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