Learning from hackers

Today during my time on the train, I read David Crystal’s Language and The Internet (2001) and Constance Hale and Jessie Scanlon’s Wired Style (1999).

It astonished me, the way those books told me about the culture of the hackers. The fact that hackers scorn non-hackers referring to hackers definition of non hackers: “someone who thinks in profits rather than programs and cares more about the bottom line than lines of code” (Crystal, 2001:69) – pay my respects to them (hackers).

They sound very empowering, regarding their ethics. There are two main ethics in hackers culture. First, the belief that information sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing open-source and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible. Second, the belief that system cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism or breach of confidentiality.

As a sub culture, although they do communicate using their own language (“…we write geek and we write street…” p. 75), but they are plainly very aware to wired world as border-less space, where the English-as-mainstream-language-is-un-updated-and-bordered-world plays no roles. I adore them even more for the fact that they embrace multiculturalism: “Consider your own context. Narrowcast. Talk to your audience. Speak the cultures” (Hale and Scanlon, 1999:9) and “Writing with global perspective means being cosmopolitan: enjoying the best of other cultures and tongues and resisting the impulse to put foreign ideas and phrases through a bottom-feeder filter” (Hale and Scanlon, 1999:21).

Another amazing fact about hackers is their awareness that non face to face interaction does not make communication any better yet not impossible to communicate in wired world as polite, sincere, and powerful as in face to face communication. I adore their mindset. My apology for I keep saying that 🙂

Their Netspeak is committed to “Celebrate subjectivity. Write with attitude. Play with voice.” In their commitment, the message in Netspeak should be clear, vivid, concrete, specific, direct and necessary. They also advise the very basic rule: “never write messages in capital letters – it’s the e-mail equivalent of shouting“. Another commitments are: don’t techno bully (by being rude if someone is technically inept), say something nice (by sending thank-you notes), mind your manners (by keeping a check on what you write), always check your messages (take the time to figure out correct spellings), and never e-dump lovers (Crystal, p. 73 – 77).

Somehow – the hackers mindset in Netspeak or Netcommunication reminds me of Don Miguel Ruiz’s one of The Four Agreements (1997): “Be impeccable with your words“, which means to speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth. Yet, also it gives me insight that communicating at wired we should be impeccable (or perfect) with our hearing. Having said that we are aware of the fact that we communicate in global context, where the interlocutors possibly come from different cultural backgrounds. So I think, it is not only “to speak the cultures” but more important is “to listen the cultures“.

Perhaps you want also to know the hackers’ attitude and the aspiring hackers.

I borrowed the picture from this site. Thank you.


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