Posts tagged with 'Hacking'


  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I know a lot of people who hack stuff. Due to other activities I also meet people who want to learn how to hack. This is the fun part of teaching. You are being asked questions you cannot answer easily. While you can think all day about theories explaining what hackers do, you can stop doing this and get to the roots. Figuring how things work is a good start. All hackers do this, regardless of their colour. The late Aaron Swartz put it this way:

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”

You need a motivation to discover the inner workings behind a gadget, a technology or a simple observation. You need the ability to be observant, to combine facts, come up with theories, put them to the test and to get rid of them once you have a new one. You have to know how to ask sensible questions and think of the steps necessary to answer them. Most scientists do the same (go and read Richard Feynman’s The Pleasure of Finding Things Out if you are not convinced).

So how do you get to the point of finding things out? Well, you definitely cannot read the manual and be done with learning. Nothing works this way. The best you can hope for is to get a starting point. The rest is exercise and reading stuff again (stuff can be new or old, you won’t understand everything at the first time). It’s just like physical exercise. Start running, start swimming, start anywhere and see where you get. It’s just like craftsmanship. Get a tool. Use it. Build something. Sooner or later you will use different tools or build tools on your own. It’s a process.

Get it?