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Hacking: Any Different From “Creative Solution”?

Hacking: Any Different From “Creative Solution”?

What is your definition of hacking? What types of hacking are you familiar with? Do you get annoyed when people only take the narrow view of hacking as a negative activity?

I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone of the wholesome origins of hacking, and how the misconceptions of a few journalists can change the meaning of a word worldwide.

Hacker: the loaded word

“A hacker is someone who enjoys playful cleverness—not necessarily with computers. The programmers in the old MIT free software community of the 60s and 70s referred to themselves as hackers. Around 1980, journalists who discovered the hacker community mistakenly took the term to mean “security breaker.” Richard M. Stallman
“Someone who attempts to access secure information over the internet without permission – or someone who likes to customise or recycle computer equipment to invent new things.” BBC Webwise
“Hacking from its beginnings at M.I.T. has always been associated with using technology to subvert institutional systems for personal use”. Dave Wilton

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Bad Hackers…

Think of the word “hacker” and you immediately think of bad stuff happening: computer bugs, server crashes, stolen data, misbehavior in government computer networks. This type of hacking brings to mind immoral individuals or organizations who do this purely for causing a stir, malicious intent, or bringing attention to a security failure. And unfortunately, since so much of our lives are online now, stolen identities and bank hacking is a higher risk than ever before.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj35GguOAGE

Good hackers…

But then think a little more pragmatically about the word itself. Hacker: to hack; to chip away at something. Think to times before high-tech, and what that would apply to. Woodcutting? Stonework? Very possible. Hammer away at something until the desired result is achieved.

Humans by nature seem to love finding faster and easier ways to get work done. Do we hate working that much? Are we insanely curious about trying new ways of doing everyday stuff, practical or not? Is this what drives our creativity?

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Video: Good” hackers TED talk on what hacking really means

Smart has become the new sexy, and hacker is a sexy and (relatively) new word with a devil-may-care attitude and freedom-fighter mentality attached. Our fresh perspective of the nerd as having a bunch of sweet tricks up his sleeve is almost akin to a magician for the less technologically inclined.

Ironically, not all of these hacks are good. Many new ideas are enthusiastically tried out without thinking of the larger consequences—nuclear energy comes to mind. The discovery of harnessing nuclear power to lower energy costs was fantastic; however, storing toxic waste and maintaining the nuclear facilities has proven to be hazardous and with huge and far-reaching implications.

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Take back hacking!

Hacking is about ingenuity in any walk of life. From reading stories here on Lifehack itself, you expect to find tips on how to make life easier, make life better, and make life more interesting. We all own items that are the result of hacks; in fact, you could argue that all technology and gadgets are based on hacking philosophy. Each new insight into how to execute a marketing campaign in a new way is a hack, in the same way that using red nail polish on a knife to give it a “bloody” effect for a Halloween costume is a hack.

“Growth hacking as a process is simple. It’s finding a problem. It’s testing to optimize. It’s finding what works. That’s it!” Samantha Siow

“Creative solution” or “being entrepreneurial” have replaced hacking in the vocabulary of most because of the distancing people want to make from the computer hackers. We don’t want to be tainted by the malicious intent that the word hacker has become associated with. I feel like somehow we are doing the word a disservice, and we should make an effort to remind the world that hacking is not a bad thing and that we can all be part of the hacker community. Hacking is what we now call critical thinking to find innovative solutions.

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It’s also a lot of fun (see infographic here on some of the BEST lifehacks!)

hackathon-new-york

    “Hackathons” are becoming more and more popular—you’ll find one happening on a weekly basis in any city around the world. They still mainly attract techies, but I highly encourage you to go try them out. Break the hackathons open to everyone, as it should be.

    Take back hacking!

    More by this author

    Andrea Francis

    Andrea loves being productive and getting things done. She shares practical tips to help people achieve what they want in life.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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