I am a hacker:
Does this mean I hang out with Angelina Jolie create viruses that look like bunnies that fly through giant glass servers eating bits of code like a pacman game? No, that was the movie Hackers which was both amazing and aweful at the same time.
Depending on who you are you have a different view on the word. Most of you not involved in the tech startup space probably associate an extremely negative connotation.
Acording to Websters definition there are four definitions(not to be confused with types of "Hackers").
1) one that hacks
Okay this is kind of vague until you define what "Hacks" means
2) a person who is inexperienced or unskilled at a particular activity
This is without a doubt true. Hackers are known for being self taught and we all have to start somewhere.
3) an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer
This is probably the best definition though I would switch out computer for technology or in modern times just cut it down to "An expert at solving problems".
4) a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system
This is the last one because it is the least accurate and has been created only in recent times by the media.
Hackers strike again:
How many times have you seen a headline like "Hackers attack..." or "Hackers steal...". Just search the news for
Search the news for the term "Hackers" for plenty more. Headlines like this are only accurate in the sense that they are intentionally vague.
Why wouldn't you describe what kind of hacker did the attack? In this 140 character twitter world we live in now mainstream media can't be troubled to differentiate one type of hacker from another. Sadly that and a combination of ignorance on the subject by dinosaurs in the news industry it doesn't seem to make it into the body of the report either. Fear sells that is the bottom line. Does it matter what kind of hacker it was? No that doesn't matter as long as the viewer is glued to the screen. Check out Ryan Holiday's book: Secrets of a Media Manipulator for his insider view on how the cogs turn in this media machine.
I'll admit, silicon valley, and the startup community is doing its part to educate the general public.
"Black Hat" hackers:
These are the malicious bastards that steal credit cards and run denial of service attacks on servers. These are the guys the media is actually talking about.
"White Hat" hackers:
These are the people described in webster's third definition: "an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer"
Most famous of hackers is Linus Torvalds the man who created Linux. This is the operating system the majority of web servers and smart phones run on. Without this hacker the internet would not be what it is today.
Here is a longer list List of famous "white hat" hackers including Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Grey Hat Hackers:
Grey hat hackers are kind of a bit of both. They know the dark arts of computer hacking and penetration testing but use them for good rather than evil. They get paid to protect your servers by testing how they stand up against attacks and find vulnerabilities before the black hats do.
By now most of you that know how to operate a browser know about Life Hacker. Lifehacker has unconventional tips on how to accomplish your goals and daily tasks using everyday resources.
The author of the Four Hour Body Tim Ferris is renound for his body hacking. Using unconventional methods for weight loss, muscle gain, and even sex. I suppose you could say he is a "Sex Hacker" as well though that raises even more questions about the term.
Check out his SXSW presentaion Hacking the Human Body)
These are great marketers. While everyone one else is paying for ads lost among a sea of input that bombards their customers on a daily basis these Growth Hackers find unconventional ways to promote their cause. Earlier I mentioned Ryan Holiday a renound growth hacker and his book Ryan Holidays book: Secrets of a Media Manipulator. This is an amazing read on the topic of what I would call "Media Hacking".
Note: He also has a new book titled Growth Hacker Marketing. I mention this second I literally just found out about it when I was doing research for this post. I just bought the audio version. I will let you know if it lives up to his earlier work.
This is one I have coined. It describes what me and the athletes I have trained in Gymnastics and Parkour. Using a basic understanding of newtonian physics, hours of observation if great coaches teaching, and a lot of trial and error(a lot of error, I fall down alot). We have broken the bounds of what the averedge person would think humanly possible and achived some pretty amazing stuff
I have my own definition:
"Anyone that takes a look at a goal and a given set of resources then figures out an unconventional way to achieve that goal"
This doesn't just mean using tech. This means using every tool at your disposal your mind, your body, your environment, everything and anything.
I am a hacker. Don't be afraid of that. You too maybe a hacker and not even know it. All it takes is looking beyond the options presented to you then figuring out a way to get the job done.