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The Hacker Ethic (2001)

by Pekka Himanen

Other authors: Manuel Castells (Afterword), Linus Torvalds (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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509535,903 (3.56)1
The Hacker Ethic takes us on a journey through fundamental questions about life in the information age - a trip of constant surprises, after which our time and our lives can be seen from unexpected perspectives.Nearly a century ago, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism articulated the animating spirit of the industrial age, the Protestant ethic. In the original meaning of the word, hackers are enthusiastic computer programmers who share their work with others; they are not computer criminals. Now Pekka Himanen - together with Linus Torvalds and Manuel Castells - articulates how hackers represent a new opposing ethos for the information age.Underlying hackers' technical creations - such as the Internet and the personal computer, which have become symbols of our time - are the hacker values that produced them. These values promote passionate and freely rhythmed work; the belief that individuals can create great things by joining forces in imaginative ways; and the need to maintain our existing ethical ideals, such as privacy and equality, in our new increasingly technologized society.… (more)
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English (4)  French (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
Picked this up from the library rather randomly, and read it in 3 days - very thought provoking, especially because even though it's written 10 years ago, so much of what it grapples with is still - or even more - relevant today. While Egypt was flaring up, it was fascinating to read about how the Internet was used in the 1999 Kosovo crisis.

But for me the first 2 parts - on money as motivation, and our attitude towards work - were the most riveting. The "Hacker Ethic" is still clearly alive today, and much more evident in areas other than technical realms. How this ethic integrates (or not) with more traditional structures of work and life is a topic in need of some big answers. This book didn't offer much in the way of solution, but did do a great job in setting out the reasons and contexts for a lot of the divides in attitude around today.

Good read if you're into any of the media and information literature - especially as the main text is bookended nicely by Linus Torvalds at the start, and Manuel Castells at the end. ( )
  6loss | Nov 7, 2019 |
Kind of a half-review (as I'm currently only halfway through the book) but hopefully this will give you an idea of what to expect:

http://openattitude.com/2010/04/14/hackerism-ethics-and-the-best-dad-ever/ ( )
  acurrie | Apr 15, 2010 |
This book compares the hacker ethic with the protestant work ethic, which we are more familiar with:

Protestant Work Ethic
- work is seen as an end onto itself (it prevents idleness, which can only lead to sin!)
- work must be regarded as one's duty (because work by definition is unpleasant)
- assigned work must be done, regardless of it's value (because it's humbling)

Hacker Work Ethic
- work is interesting and enjoyable
- the output of the work must be valueable to others
- the output of the work must be open for others to use and improve upon
- workers need the freedom to organize their work/leisure it best suits them
- workers must have the freedom and privacy to perform the work in whatever manner achieves the required output
- workers must help other workers

It has excellent references to other books and philosophers to help illustrate it's points. It's very thought provoking. It gave me a totally new way of looking at motivation. It also helped to identify some things about my current work that I don't like. (Someone could make a million writing "A Guide to Managing Hackers" using the ideas in this book).

Unfortunately, the book reads like someone's PhD thesis -- but it's worth reading! Thanks Greg for loaning me this book. ( )
  Miche11e | Dec 3, 2005 |
covers at http://tinyurl.com/8ehs6 (imageshack.us PhotoBlog)
by http://what.ticio.us

Review
“A person can be a hacker without having anything to do with computers.€?
—Pekka Himanen

“A thoroughly spirited and commendable framework for human creativity.â€?
—Financial Times

“As comprehensive and instructive as any [survey] to date... Himanen has a powerful grasp on that strangely intoxicating contradiction that is open-source.â€?
—The New York Times Book Review

“Engagingly written and provocative, and indubitably commendable in its vision of a transformation of how all of us relate to our working life....We should all be more like hackers.â€?
—Salon.com

An important idea, an important book, March 9, 2001
Reviewer: Jon D Katz (Montclair, NJ USA) -

I should say up front that I'm not totally disinterested in the Hacker Ethic. I'm a media critic and author and I blurbed this book, something I don't do a lot. I did -- and am writing this review -- because I feel strongly that this is a very important book advancing a central idea -- the hacker ethic, profoundly misunderstood and demonized by the popular media, is important, both to politics and work. This isn't another in the avalanche of impenetrable cyber-culture books. It looks backwards as well as forwards, to the Protestant Ethic that has shaped many of our lives, and beyond, to the hacker joy and passion. The hacker ethic has trigger a true social and cultural revolution. Himanen (who I don't know) traces its roots, and perhaps more importantly, where it can take us. This is very important. If journalists, CEO's and others would read this book carefully, they might get ahead of the Net Revolution for once, instead of scrambling continuously to figure out where the world is going. If you want to know, this is a good place to start. It is also a very noble endeavor to finally give the hackers their due in the evolution of the modern world. It's not a big dense read either, which it easily could have been. It is a small book and moves quickly. It's ideas are accessible, and very, very convincing. ( )
1 vote libroo | Oct 22, 2005 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Himanen, PekkaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Castells, ManuelAfterwordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Torvalds, LinusForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leblanc, ClaudeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meler Ortí, FerranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schlatterer, HeikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spaendonck, Marie-Colette vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolff, FernandaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zucchella, FabioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Hacker Ethic takes us on a journey through fundamental questions about life in the information age - a trip of constant surprises, after which our time and our lives can be seen from unexpected perspectives.Nearly a century ago, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism articulated the animating spirit of the industrial age, the Protestant ethic. In the original meaning of the word, hackers are enthusiastic computer programmers who share their work with others; they are not computer criminals. Now Pekka Himanen - together with Linus Torvalds and Manuel Castells - articulates how hackers represent a new opposing ethos for the information age.Underlying hackers' technical creations - such as the Internet and the personal computer, which have become symbols of our time - are the hacker values that produced them. These values promote passionate and freely rhythmed work; the belief that individuals can create great things by joining forces in imaginative ways; and the need to maintain our existing ethical ideals, such as privacy and equality, in our new increasingly technologized society.

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