Hello from the JLL Hackathon in Singapore

The evolving use of the term "hacker"

Carolyn Trickett blog Hello from the JLL Hackathon in Singapore - The evolving use of the term "hacker"

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

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So, I'm a hacker

So, in accordance with the purist definition ... I'm a hacker.

I wrote my first software code at age six on an Apple IIE using BASIC. Years later, as my career is more about management and business strategy and less about technical detail, am I still a hacker?

The evolving use of the term "hacker"

On my way to the JLL Hackathon in Singapore, I was thinking about the evolving use of the term "hacker".

In the media, the term "hacker" often has negative connotations - cyber-criminals out there conspiring to break into your computer, steal all your secrets and then all your money. A reference to a "hack" on social media is more likely to mean a short-cut, a smart trick or a piece of secret info.

I decided to look up the current definition of hacking. Wikipedia is quick to point out the difference between security hacker (the criminals I referred to above) and hacker culture - "a subculture of individuals who enjoy the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming limitations of software systems to achieve novel and clever outcomes." The term was first coined in the 1960s.

Hacking is not the activities themselves, it's not all about software code, it's about the approach to the task, the manner in which it is done, and in particular, whether it is something exciting and meaningful. That's more like it!

Hacking is still part of my DNA

Although it's over 15 years since I wrote a line of code or an SQL statement, hacking is still part of my DNA - I see a business process, a potential opportunity, or a complex problem and I can't wait to get my teeth into it to find out more detail and work out how to fix it.

We had a fantastic first day yesterday at the JLL hackathon, as our facilitators took us through a structured approach to framing a question, ideation, mapping a process and creating a low-fi prototype.

The games continue today - bring it on!

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