I love hacking.
That statement has consistently rung alarm bells amongst my non-techy pals whenever I make that statement. Typical responses include:
“You’re a hacker??”
“Don’t say that too loud.”
“I’ll visit you in prison.”
Imagine, the reactions when I go further to mention that I’ve been to some Hackathons in my time!?
tldr; There are two definitions given in Dictionary.com for the word “hack”:
- to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skilful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app.
I hacked my tablet to do some very cool things.
- to circumvent security and break into (a network, computer, file, etc.), usually with malicious intent: Criminals hacked the bank’s servers yesterday.
Our team systematically hacks our network to find vulnerabilities.
Now, I do understand the confusion. I get why everyone always jumps to the negative connotation first. The answer is simple. Media.
Hacking is simply creatively and relentlessly solving a technical problem.
Unfortunately, the only time you hear the term “hacking” in the media is when some media company like Sony or a bank has been broken into. Or organised groups attempting to derail a website. Not the more positive connotation like hacking to build new wearable technology, or even charitable hacking. Because… news.
Social media has spread this misunderstanding. When someone posts a silly status on someone else’s account, somehow “hacking” is a word that gets bandied about.
It’s a bit like the term downloading. You only hear the word when associated with illegally downloading movies or music. But it’s simply the act of retrieving files from a remote location – online or on another device – and saving it onto another.
Now I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the media does tend to warp meanings and opinions effortlessly.
I realise of course that I have inadvertently included myself in that last statement, and I am ok with that. And I’m not ok with that.
Hackathons themselves are amazing. There are so many challenges organised within and between different companies, where individuals or groups are challenged to create something innovative within 24 hours, 72 hours, or any other time period. It’s a great excuse to consume pizza and block out life for a small period of time, but the results are astounding, and the competition is healthy.
AT&T Mobile App Hackathon
Imagine if something like that existed for your chosen profession or hobby?
So you can sleep soundly knowing that there are literally millions of us hacking each and every day. Comforting right…?