Salon: Hunting the wild hacker; book review - 'The Hacker Ethic'
Feb 07, 2001, 17:57 (2 Talkback[s])
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"Himanen's core thesis is that hackers have a new, improved
relationship toward work. As opposed to those poor souls beholden
to the famous Protestant ethic, outlined in Max Weber's "The
Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," hackers don't treat
work as a duty or "the most important thing in life." Instead,
hackers make their work subservient to their life, feeling a sense
of joy and passion in what they do, rather than responsibility for
what they feel they should be doing."
"One reason free software is able to flourish is that most
hackers are able to earn their livelihood relatively easily, with
enough leisure time to hack for the public good. The hours
that they do spend working for the Man are well enough compensated
to allow them to construct the rest of their lives in whatever
fashion they might desire. A McDonald's cashier or a taxi driver is
not so lucky. Free software is built on the reality that
programmers are an elite class of worker, both indispensable and
relatively rare. The hacker ethic, then, is a luxury."
"...it's a point worth contemplating, particularly in the
current "dot-com downturn" era. Of all the various classes of
people getting laid off right now, programmers have the least to
fear, and demonstrate the least anxiety. Their skills will always
be in demand -- no matter how bad the economy gets, technological
progress will not stop. "The Hacker Ethic" is engagingly written
and provocative, and indubitably commendable in its vision of a
transformation of how all of us relate to our working life, but
without rigorously examining the paradox of how it is that hackers
are able not to care about money, it is significantly flawed."