Hacker vs Hack: Contribution and Repetition

Posted by admin at May 2, 2014

Let me start by saying, I am NOT a hacker. That is not a title that you bestow on yourself, it is bestowed on you by the “Community”. By Community, I mean the community of creative like-minds, talented people that contribute to the society, people that are probably better than you are in what you do.

The Hacker:

To be a hacker, you have to know how to network with people and by networking, I don’t mean networking by yapping off like we do these days with social media, let’s leave that to the marketers, shall we? I don’t mean networking by “all talk and no walk”. A hacker networks by doing. He contributes his time and skills to help others, that way he pulls others to himself. He questions things and tries to understand them. He learns and he teaches and he gives. He is a knowledge philanthropist.

The Hack:

A hack, on the other hand, is a one-time wonder, an opportunist. He takes what he can get and rides it out. He is just an average talented guy with a load of luck. He is apt to take other peoples ideas and contributions and never gives back.


Now the greatest difference between these two is that while the hacker spends time and effort to learn new things and fully understands all he stands for, a hack just does things once and struggles to make them work. Basically the hacker learns and teaches, the hack hacks. I have to admit that sometimes, I tend to implement new technologies in my designs without understanding them as long as they work. But it takes discipline and a smidge of obsessive passion to go back to what worked for you and try to make sense of it. Understanding is key, and to understand repetition is essential. You have to repeat the successful process a number and try to find what makes it successful.

Secondly and most importantly, a hacker gives back, resulted in the success of the greatest innovation since the discover of metal, the Internet. Imagine what the world would be like if the scientists decided to make keep the ARPANET to themselves, or that the US military decided to patent the thing. The technologies that we now take for granted will not be possible if the pioneers didn’t have the culture to give it all away, and for free too. Giving back might be in the form of contribution (of time, skill and effort) and teaching. Contribution allows the hacker to test what he knows in the development of new ideas and technologies.   From the teams working on the HTML to the W3C, the hacker involves himself in these development and management teams in order to give back to the community. Teaching is the best way to understand, because when you teach, you challenge yourself to communicate ideas to other people so that they fully understand, As we see in both cases, Repetition is in full play. Giving back allows the hacker repeat gathered knowledge in high number of permutations, allowing him to know more.

Don’t try to hack it. Keep learning new things and when you do, don’t forget to give back.


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