What is Hacking?

I know what you are probably thinking right this very second. Another What is Hacking? page? I've heard it said the pornography accounts for nearly half of all Internet traffic. I would guess that 10% of the left over traffic (5% of the whole) consists of people inadvertently clicking on links to what is hacking? pages. Okay, okay. Maybe the problem is not that bad, but there is no question that the web is littered with sites featuring pages of this nature.

Why then, am I creating another? It has been said that writing a What is Hacking? page is pilgrimage that a hacker must do before (s)he can become a truly great hacker, but please do not think that that is my cause. Hacking has become almost a dirty word in today's society. My goal is not to change that perception (though admittedly I'd be thrilled if I did), but to defend myself from that perception. Sad but true, describing one's self as a hacker is as risky as pulling out the bottom piece from a Jenga game. My true cause isn't something as noble as trying to clean a name tarnished by wrong-doers, but is fundamentally nothing greater than self preservation. That being said, you could probably skip over my actual answer!

So what is hacking? As many people have done before me, I'll start with what hacking is not. Hacking is not cracking into other people's computers, nor is stealing money or data. Hacking should not be of a destructive nature, but quite to the contrary, hacking is constructive.

Hacking is the process of creation. Whether it is the creation of a new tool, the learning of something new, or simply gaining experience from something old, hacking is creation. It does not require a computer or even anything electric (see chair hack). All it requires is the desire and patience to perform a task differently.

To have hacked something means to have solved it in an unusual or unique way. The hack is the method by which you solved the problem. Hacking, therefore, is the creative and constructive means through which one solves a problem in a way other than the prescribed method.

© 2005 Nic Reveles

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