Recently, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the concept of the “hacker”. I think I really got more interested in this concept when my parents accused me of being “just another career minded woman” who would “regret not settling down”- which I figured was just…plain wrong. Now I have nothing against women who are career minded, or women who want to settle down, but I just didn’t feel like it was an accurate representation of what I do, or my motives for doing it. (Admittedly, I think my parents were furious that I seemed to miss the point of their tirade, but it really did get me thinking about me and the context of what I do). Because honestly, I have never been interested in a career, at least in the conventional terms. I’m not doing what I do so that I can…work my way up the startup/water related ladder or something. Or become a thought leader in some space or other. I don’t really care how many awards I do, or don’t win, and I don’t really care about recognition for myself (recognition for the company is an entirely different story however). Don’t get me wrong, all those things are great and if they happen it’s a bonus, but that’s not the reason I do what I do. So why do I do what I do then? After reading the article on How to Become a Hacker, I realized that hacking was more than just coding or even limited to the computer/programming space- and something that really jived with me.
I think the key difference that pops up (when you ask Quora what the difference between a hacker and a coder is) is the difference in the state of mind, or why people do what they do. My favorite excerpt:
“Hacker” is a state of mind. You’re a hacker if you are intellectually curious, like to understand at the core of how things work, and like to be creative with your code. You also understand how things work so well, that you can apply what you know into other contexts. You can see quickly how things work, how to make it better, and how to re-use things to make things work differently. Hacker is akin to an artist, or philosopher, gifted with engineering talents. You ask “why” and “why not” a lot.
A “Coder” is a state of function. You’re a coder if you have a strong command of the programming syntax, and probably have a good technical foundation. You’re more interested in getting things done rather then asking why it should be done. There’s nothing wrong being a coder, but there are other more important things in life than just computer programming.
Which means, I think we can take that out of the programming context and apply that to life. And that really resonates with me, and what I do. I do it because…I want to see the world in a different way. And I want to make that vision come to life. I guess I’d like to think of it as art in its most abstract form: through the creation of a new reality. I guess I live in my head sometimes, and spend the working hours trying to orchestrate that vision through disciplined and precise execution (i.e. my job and making the company successful).
I guess that was my realization. I want to spend my time learning more about this new space, and the people that inhabit it. Because they inspire me, and make me want to be a better person.
In the meantime, I actually think I’m going to learn how to code. I’m terrified, but I think it’s a good start (and also a good policy that one of my colleagues suggested- having all top management at NextDrop fluent with Python). I think I’ll actually do it now because..I have some motivation. Still utterly terrified, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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