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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!

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    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Making Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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