The Hacker Attitude

From the  Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty David talks about The Hacker Attitude:

I don’t mean computer geeks who break into networks and steal passwords. I don’t even necessarily mean software developers. I mean the renegade group of entrepreneurially minded people who are transforming the way we live, work and interact.

Though the term hacker originated at MIT in the 1960s and was used to refer to a particular group of computer and software enthusiasts, to many the term has a broader meaning. An article by Eric S Raymond titled “How to become a hacker” presents five tenets of hacker attitude.

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

In short, a hacker values knowledge and learns whatever he needs to learn to achieve his vision. In today’s world, that often means learning at least a little coding, but the hacker attitude can be applied to problem solving of all kinds.

People who live by the hacker attitude are curious. They do whatever it takes to achieve their visions. They are entrepreneurial. They value skills and knowledge over titles and experience.

If people understand that this is what it is, then “Hacker” is a badge of honor. Eric Raymond talks about Hacker Nerd/Geek connection in his book.

The Hacker/Nerd Connection
Contrary to popular myth, you don’t have to be a nerd to be a hacker. It does help, however, and many hackers are in fact nerds. Being something of a social outcast helps you stay concentrated on the really important things, like thinking and hacking. For this reason, many hackers have adopted the label ‘geek’ as a badge of honor.


I hope David doe not mind my copying so much of text from one chapter. I hope it gets him a few followers on Twitter and some orders for this excellent book.