Hacking: It’s Not Just for Techies Anymore

Many people who know that my primary professional work is now focused on O’Reilly’s new Hacks series often ask me to define the word “hack” and then describe the purpose of this series. If you’ve been disappointed in my responses to this question, or if you’re simply looking for a more detailed explanation, check out Peggy Rogers/Ms. Computer’s article, “Hack your system: It’s a good thing,” in The Miami Herald:

Why on earth promote hacking? It seems like such a dirty, secretive practice. The reason is that many hacks are actually good, permitted and useful, some for even computer newcomers.

But many hackers . . . operate on the up and up; they go under the hood of tech products, legitimately experimenting to add features and expand the capabilities of digital hardware, search engines, games, other software and websites. They find or create features that are not obvious, not included in official manuals and help files, or not known even to product creators.

If this whets your appetite and leaves you wanting a more in-depth account from the series editor for the O’Reilly Hacks series, check out Rael’s email interview with Ms. Rogers:

We’re 20 years into the PC era. Even non-technical people are getting pretty used to dealing with, troubleshooting, and fixing digital devices, so hacking born of necessity means it’s not as scary as it used to be.

He shows why hacking has become so popular and why it just might be right for you, regardless of your technical skill level.