Why I am a Hacker
Quite the title eh? If you're confused, and you probably are, let's take a step back.
What exactly is a hacker? If you believe everything you see in movies and TV, a hacker is a person who sits in front of a half dozen computer monitors typing away furiously while 3D manifestations dance across the screen as the hacker breaks some security system (thank you Swordfish). Alternatively, you may think of some obese person staring in front of a dark computer with lime green text (something like this; go on, try typing on that page).
If you thought that you'd be wrong. Partly, at least.
Hacker is a pretty loaded term. From what I know, at the least, it can refer to...
- People who break security systems by unauthorized means
- People who "hack" away at technology to modify it or push it's limits. These types of hackers tend to be associated with Arduino boards.
- Software developers, primarily those in the free software movement, but anyone who really delights in the specifics of some computer system
- Programmers, engineers, or scientists who work to make things better.
...and I mean, that's a pretty terse definition. I mean, Paul Graham has a way better article on it than I do.
Anyway, getting back to the point. I am a hacker, and I'm proud of it, and why shouldn't I be? Over the course of a weekend, I flashed new firmware on my router to make it easier to use and more configurable, I put a new operating system on my netbook to make it last even longer, and tonight I'm going to flash a new ROM on my phone to give it new functionality. I can develop just about whatever I want if I put my mind to it, and I can share it with the world on github or something similar. If I have a problem with my computer or some piece of technology, I can figure it out, and help other folks figure it out. If I want to do something crazy like make a proton pack for a Halloween costume, I can get out the soldering iron, read some schematics, and figure out how to wire the lighting.
...And the stuff that I do pales in comparison to some of the amazing stuff other folks do. Really.
Why am I a hacker? A better question is why aren't you?