Reading01: For the Love of Money

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am not a big supporter of the hacker ethic, I believe to be widely implemented it would need major overhaul. It would need to emphasize the people rather than the computers. That being said there are of course good components of the hacker ethic. The desire to strive for the best, to innovate, and to fail are all great components of the hacker ethic. Things that everyone can learn from and embrace to better themselves academically, professionally, and personally. For these reasons I feel that the hacker ethic should definitely be spread wider, but with an emphasis on improvement not on obsession. What the hardware hackers did well as they spread the hacker ethic to a wider audience was they provided an incentive. The hacker ethic was flawed in that it assumed everyone had the privilege of being able to program and hack all day every day with little consideration for the rest of their lives and for no compensation. What the hardware hackers did was show the world that you could adapt a version of the hacker ethic, a better version of the hacker ethic, and make a living doing it. While the “True Hackers” resented the hardware hackers, because they saw the hardware hackers as sellouts, this however to me is unfair. While some were disparaged for working for the department of defense or for simply making their own companies and trying to profit off of their understanding and knowledge, they were popularizing and improving computers and technology much faster than some people sitting in a room at MIT were able to do, no matter how highly they thought of themselves. With money earned by selling their computers or software or what have you, these hardware hackers and entrepreneurs were able to make money and using that money perform more better innovations than in the past. During Justin’s presentation on Thursday he talked about how there were many small boards available for cheap prices so that a person would be able to learn how to create hacks or discover things on their own. The use of these boards and their wide spread has given more people than ever access to the hardware necessary to learn and embrace parts of the hacker ethic. This was only possible because the company was able to make a profit off of these chips. They were able to research and develop cheap ways to make chips there by popularizing the ability to be “true hackers” even if it is merely a version of what it used to be.


As I said at the beginning, I have never been the biggest fan of the hacker ethic, because of its many failings in my opinion, but I still appreciate and am inspired by other parts of the ethic. It is these parts of the ethic, the hard work, innovation, and meritocracy that I think are more able to come through when hardware and software are monetized. They allow wider exposure and therefore more innovation. It also drops many of the less savory parts of the ethic. In other words, not only do I think it is worth it to compromise some of the ideals of the hacker ethic in order to spread, I think it is a good idea.