Hacking and Philosophy: The Mentor’s Manifesto


Welcome back to Hacking & Philosophy! I’ve done my best to keep up with the comments from last week’s article, and your responses and suggestions have been invaluable. Most readers expressed concern over how this column would define “hacker” or “hacking,” and whether the texts focused more on hacking-as-illegal or the hacker/maker culture. Rest assured that all interpretations are welcome, but I have no intention of dwelling on the sensationalized, criminal hacker stereotype, either. Others asked whether we’d be holding our conversation somewhere a bit more user-friendly: a solution is in the works. For now, we will stick to the comments.

Last week, I asked you to read an early document in hacking history: The Mentor’s “A Hacker Manifesto,” also called “The Conscience of a Hacker.” What follows is my analysis of the essay. I invite you to join me in a discussion in the comments: post your responses to the piece, your questions, your objections, anything! Now, lets take a trip back to the 80’s…

Continue reading “Hacking and Philosophy: The Mentor’s Manifesto”

Hacking and Philosophy: An Introduction


This fall marks my third (and Flying Spaghetti Monster willing, final) year as a PhD student, and although I’m no longer taking courses, I often wonder how my seminars might have differed if other hacker-types were in the classroom contributing to the discussion.

Hacking and Philosophy is a new column that explores scholarly research about hacking, and does so with a community that lives the hacking experience. It’s a chance to discuss how researchers and deep thinkers handle our culture, its image, its philosophy, etc. Put simply, think of it as a weekly book club meeting. I’ll choose the text and proceed one chapter at a time, giving you my complete response to that week’s reading while engaging your replies in the comments as well as including your important or insightful contributions in future posts. Further, I promise never to venture into Ivory Tower territory: I hate being talked down to as much as the next person.

Hacking and Philosophy only works if it’s a conversation, so I encourage contributions, corrections, respectful disagreements, and as much hypertext (obviously literally, but philosophically a la Landow) that you can manage. Think of me not as an instructor but as a fellow participant who will occasionally guide us through obscure concepts and terminology.

Keep reading after the break for a tentative book list and the reading for next week!

Continue reading “Hacking and Philosophy: An Introduction”