The Hacker Attitude

I'm writing this on the roads of Oregon, where I can see the beautiful hills powdered with snow, en route to Twin Falls.

Hacking is fun. I like building things that can solve problems, especially if they're important, social issues that can be tackled with technology. This is why I'm addicted to hackathons, they give me the motivation for building. But now that I'm out of school, and I have more time, I'm going to start committing to one idea, and see how far it can go, and build properly with my friend WC.

Some notes on "The Hacker Attitude" by Eric

A hacker solves problems and builds things. They believe in freedom and voluntary mutual help.

To become a hacker, you have to behave as though you have this kind of attitude yourself.

As with all creative arts, the most effective way is to imitate the mindset of masters – not just intellectually but emotionally as well.

So if you want to be a hacker, you have to repeat the following things until you believe them:

  1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.
    • being a hacker is a lot of fun, but the kind of fun that takes a lot of energy
    • intrinsic motivation: you have to get a basic thrill from solving problems, sharpening your skills, and exercising your intelligence
    • faith: you have to develop a belief that even though you don't have all the pieces to solve a problem, you can learn and solve it piece by piece, and do that until you're done.
  2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
    • don't reinvent the wheel: creative brains are a valuable, limited resource. don't waste time re-addressing old problems, there are many fascinating new problems out there
    • share: it's almost a moral duty to share information, solve problems and give solutions away so hackers can solve new problems
  3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.
    • solve new problems: hackers should never be bored or have have to drudge at stupid repetitive work. This wastefulness hurts everybody.
    • automate: automate away the boring bits as much as possible, not just for yourself but for everybody else
  4. Freedom is good.
    • naturally anti-authoritarian: anyone who can give orders can find some stupid reason to stop you from solving problems you're fascinated by, fight the authoritarian attitude wherever you find it.
    • cooperate and share information: develop an instinctive hostility to censorship, secrecy, and use of force or deception to compel responsible adults.
  5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.
    • attitude alone is not enough, it takes intelligence, practice, dedication, and hard work.
    • distrust attitude and respect competence of every kind
    • competence at demanding skills that few can master is especially good, and ones that involve mental acuteness, craft, and concentration is best.
    • if you revere competence, you'll enjoy developing it in yourself – the hard work and dedication will become a kind of intense play rather than drudgery

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