Hacker Ethic

Hacker ethic is a term for the moral values and philosophy that are standard in the hacker community. The early hacker culture and resulting philosophy originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 1950s and 1960s. The term hacker ethic is attributed to journalist Steven Levy as described in his 1984 book titled Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. The key points within this ethic are access, freedom of information, and improvement to quality of life.

While some tenets of hacker ethic were described in other texts like Computer Lib/Dream Machines (1974) by Theodor Nelson, Levy appears to have been the first to document both the philosophy and the founders of the philosophy.

Levy explains that MIT housed an early IBM 704 computer inside the Electronic Accounting Machinery (EAM) room in 1959. This room became the staging grounds for early hackers as MIT students from the Tech Model Railroad Club sneaked inside the EAM room after hours to attempt programming the 30-ton, 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) computer.

The MIT group defined a hack as a project undertaken or a product built to fulfill some constructive goal, but also with some wild pleasure taken in mere involvement. The term hack arose from MIT lingo, as the word had long been used to describe college pranks that MIT students would regularly devise. However, Levy's hacker ethic also has often been quoted out of context and misunderstood to refer to hacking as in breaking into computers, and so many sources incorrectly imply that it is describing the ideals of white-hat hackers. What Levy is talking about, however, does not have anything particular to do with computer security.

The hacker ethic was described as a "new way of life, with a philosophy, an ethic and a dream". However, the elements of the hacker ethic were not openly debated and discussed, rather they were accepted and silently agreed upon.

The free software movement was born in the early 80s from followers of the hacker ethic. Its founder, Richard Stallman, is referred to by Steven Levy as "the last true hacker". Modern hackers who hold true to the hacker ethics—especially the Hands-On Imperative—are usually supporters of free and open source software. This is because free and open source software allows hackers to get access to the source code used to create the software, to allow it to be improved or reused in other projects.

Read more about Hacker Ethic:  The Hacker Ethics, Levy's "true Hackers", Comparison To "cracker" Ethics, Other Descriptions

Other articles related to "hacker ethic, hackers, ethic, ethics, hacker":

Hackers: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution - Levy's Description of Hacker Ethics and Principles
... Levy's principles is the concept of the hacker ethic and the popularization of them to popular culture ... Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position ... The hacker ethic deals with the idea that individuals are performing a duty for the common good, an analogy to a modern day 'Robin Hood' ...
Hacker Ethic - Other Descriptions
... In 2001, Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen promoted the hacker ethic in opposition to the Protestant work ethic ... In Himanen's opinion, the hacker ethic is more closely related to the virtue ethics found in the writings of Plato and of Aristotle ... Himanen explained these ideas in a book, The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age, with a prologue contributed by Linus Torvalds and an epilogue by Manuel Castells ...
Hackers: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution - Who's Who - Part Two: Hardware Hackers
... He was joined by Efrem Lipkin, another hacker who was wary of any project that had military involvement, in forming Community Memory. 256 bytes of memory, but it struck a chord with so many hackers that MITS went from being close to bankruptcy to having millions of dollars worth of orders, and being unable to fulfill ... and Gordon French as a way for electronics hobbyists and hackers to get together and exchange information and talk about their projects ...
Pekka Himanen - Biography
... In The Hacker Ethic, Himanen is trying to understand the core of informationalism, the post-industrialist paradigm, extending the ideas of Manuel ... to the industrial-capitalist protestant work ethic he proposes a hacker ethic as something like a cyber communitarianism ... According to Himanen, the three main features of hacker ethic are enthusiastic, passionate attitude to the work that is enjoyed creativity, wish to realise oneself and ...

Famous quotes by hacker ethic:

    The Hacker Ethic: Access to computers—and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works—should be unlimited and total.
    Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!
    All information should be free.
    Mistrust authority—promote decentralization.
    Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
    You can create art and beauty on a computer.
    Computers can change your life for the better.
    Steven Levy, U.S. writer. Hackers, ch. 2, ‘The Hacker Ethic,’ pp. 27-33, Anchor Press, Doubleday (1984)