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Linux.com: Linux: Love, Art, Hacking

Oct 05, 2000, 07:29 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Dominico)

"Ah, the great figures of the Renaissance. People such as Michaelangelo, DaVinci, and Torvalds spring to mind. Yes, Torvalds. While you may not recall reading about him in your history classes, the fact is that people like him are responsible for a new Renaissance - a hacker Renaissance, if you will. It is a revival of hacking as an art form, instead of a daily drudgery to be performed for some faceless company. It is the rebirth of the hacker as an artist, and it's a big part of the Linux revolution."

"Hacking isn't just coding, either - it could be opening up the guts of your TiVo to find out how it works, chilling a 486 in the freezer to see how far it can be overclocked, or dissecting that annoying Furby and re-wiring it to do your evil bidding. Hacking is technical skill taken a step further, and combined with creativity. It can be as simple as the act of doing something, just to see if it can be done. At its purest sense, hacking is doing something for the love of it."

"Believe it or not, there was a time when the hacker was an artist, not just a corporate cog. "An artist," you say. "I thought artists were people who painted, or acted, or sang..." Let's think about this, though. What is art? Art is about beauty, love, creativity, and perfection. Code can be beautiful. It can take on the same characteristics as fine prose. If you've ever read through artfully written code, there's something intangible and beautiful about it - the way it implements some algorithm in the least possible amount of space, or the artful way in which it flows. Artful coding requires creativity, such as when finding a new way to tackle a tough problem. It's also about the search for perfection. If you've ever sat there staring at a screenful of code, thinking to yourself, "But there must be a better way to do this," you know what I mean. That's the artist trying to break free. Why? Because you love what you're doing. You're a hacker, and you yearn to be free to express yourself."

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