Hacker attitude

The ‘hacker’ culture had been around for so long, and involved in so much of the substantial progress of the last half of the decade, to have their own ethos and philosophy into codified laws, somewhat like the ten commandments. Except that these rules are, as pertaining to the hacker subculture itself, a matter of choice for the most part. If you are finding yourself agreeing to the code, than you are probably a hacker, regardless of whether you know about computers or not. Even if you regularly write in assembly language for living, if you cannot agree to the codes outlined by the hacker culture, you are probably not a hacker. In a way calling it a ‘code’ and comparing it to the ten commandments would be something of a misnomer. Think of it as something of an identification tag, to be used between people of similar disposition.

There are five fundamental common attitudes shared by most hackers, and they are as follows.

1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.
2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.
4. Freedom is good.
5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

It is rather interesting that all of the five attitudes go against common beliefs and pratice held by most public school education system. At least for the inner city schools I know of. Around those schools teachers and administrators can say they are trying to teach children how to respect the authority without even blushing in shame. That’s right folks, not respect to your fellow men/ladies, and not respect to yourself. The primary goal seem to be built around having the kids in middle and high school stages of education to respect the person who has the right to call the police or security on them. Of course, I am being rather crass here, but this is the sentiment shared by most if not all urban city youths, the same feeling I shared when I was their age. And who am I supposed to blame for current less-than-fantastic state the public education system is in? Kids or experienced, supposed ‘professionals’ who get paid to study the children and lead them to the best possible future?

As I grow older I’m finding that this ‘hacker’ mindset is not new at all. I believe it had been around since the very beginning of civilizations, and that this is a part of natural instinct of being a human being. It is becoming increasingly certain that you don’t need to know about computers to hack things. What you need instead is the insight and wisdom to seem through the system of the world. It’s like applied cybernetics. As long as things affect each other in certain way they form a system. A system of human society is a system like any other, albeit fundamentally more complex since such systems are usually evolved rather than designed. As long as something can be considered a system, it can be, and perhaps should be, hacked. A mudlark in highly hierarchical society later becoming a shipping magnate, or a leader of a nation, is as much a hacker as the computer science major hacking with python and C++ in pursuit of digital artificial life. A writer, a cook, a musician, the applicable list goes on and on. The field of synthetic biology, though fledgling at the moment, seem to be shaping up as the next contender to the hackerdom’s primary pursuit, in the search of the ability to hack the life as we know it. Who knows what we’ll be hacking some distant time into the future? Perhaps the very nature of space and time itself. Maybe even designer universes.

And from this standpoint of the universal hackery, I must ask, would it be possible to hack the human world? Would it be possible to hack the public mind and the generational zeitgeist to nudge the rest of humanity into some vision of future? Is it possible to hack the origin of all the situations and motivations, the human itself?


Twilight bones

Thinking of Olin Levi Warner’s Twilight.

The sky outside my room-size balcony is in the thoughtful shade of blue. The field of trees extending into the horizons are shimmering in the last rays of the sun, already sinking into the other end of the land. I can see thin lining of clouds turning violet just above the tree line.

I love the twilight. This is my favorite time of the day, neither light nor dark, everything feels so calm, and everything feels as if they are thinking. At this time everything seem to regain their true shape, lost and twisted during all the happenings of the day, and will be lost in the opaque obscurity of the night. In this hour, something seem to reach out to my being beyond the veil of the world, scattering strange, indescribable feelings. It’s a feeling that reminds me of all the beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life.

In this hour, I feel like I’m truly alive, and the mysteries of the universe brushes silently against my windowsill.

I wonder how the ancestors of human beings felt at times like this. Does the impression of the world surpass the ability to articulate it? Is there some primordial phenomena purely composed of ‘feeling’ without involvement of intellect or consciousness? If so, can we understand the phenomena of the holy moment (anyone remember the Waking Life?) as innate to all complex and cognizant life-like systems? What is a cat thinking when she stares into the deepening twilight? Did my languageless ape ancestor stare into the twilight with a piece of bone in his hand, surrounded by indescribable feeling like I have?

People can teach art and science separately, but that doesn’t mean they reside in different worlds. Someday we will be able to explain beauty to our children without any nonsense.