Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Hacker... one who hacks

Back in the 1970’s, men were men, women were women, programmers were people like my dad and hackers were wily people who hacked through lines of superfluous code to create a more intelligent, streamlined program.  Then the nineties came.  Men were trying to be women, women were trying to be men, programmers were tossers in Mercs and Beemers and hackers were seven-year-olds who could access the top secret Pentagon files while their parents were failing to use this new-fangled email thing.

Now, men are trying to be men again, women are trying to be men too, programmers are self-proclaimed geeks and hackers are hacking.

I’ve been mooching around the steampunk thing for a while now, and my slippery paws are beginning to find some purchase.

Hacking is becoming increasingly fashionable, and I don’t think it’s wrong to say that it’s a part of steampunk.  A hack (if I’m understanding the term correctly, of course) is when someone takes something, and adapts it to be either more suitable for the task they have for it, more aesthetically pleasing, or both.  Anything, preferably everything, should be hacked.  Like their ancestors, modern hackers are cutting through the overgrowth of superfluous crap pre-manufactured products come replete with to create something more intelligent, streamlined and suited to purpose.

It got me thinking.  One of my beliefs is that the same patterns are repeated throughout the universe.  The pattern of helplessness, immaturity, selfishness, angst, self-realisation, repentance, identity-seeking, education, hunger and satisfaction is one most people’s lives seem to take, for example.  It’s one societies seem to go through, too, as well as ideas, philosophies, movements and, really, any other complex system.  Once completed, it will start again.  Broadly, one can make the pattern work.

Nothing in the universe is, ‘finished’.  Things are constantly changing and growing with the environment they’re part of.  People, planets, music... Why should a product we buy from the shop be considered, ‘finished’?  Why should things manufactured by people be exempt from the natural cycle of change, adaptation and evolution?

I shall be taking out a subscription to Make and preparing to start the cycle of education from the beginning.  I’ll also be learning to sew in earnest.  Clothes are a vital part of our lives and, more than anything, should be mended, modded and hacked.

Steampunk is, partly, a style of hacking.  It’s a preference for styles, materials and aesthetic, and a reason for doing it.

I think.


Jo Thomas said...

Now this:
Is my idea of a hack...

Foxie said...

A hack and slash? :D

Seriously, that's one pretty piece of kit.