29 October 2012

On Becoming a Criminal, I Mean, Hacker

During my first week of being a student at Hackbright, Michael and I put our second mattress on Freecycle. When a woman and her son came to pick it up early (very early) on a Friday morning, Michael and the son did all the carrying and tying while the woman and I held open the door. I was so exhausted, I just wanted to go back to bed. The woman, however, was ready to gab.

"What are you studying?"
"I'm becoming a developer."
"Of . . . sustainable housing?
"No, a web developer. To make things work on the internet?"
Frozen, confused look.
"What school do you go to?"
"Hackbright Academy."
"I've never heard of that. Where's that?"
"In the Mission."
"What was it called again?"
 "What bright?"
"Hack. As in 'hacker'?"
With this, she sprung into life.
"A hacker?!? Isn't that illegal?"
"Well, hacking into other people's networks is illegal, but hacking in general isn't."
"I had no idea that people took that term and made it positive for their own use."
" . . ."
"Hacker! Really! I just can't believe it! I thought hacking was a criminal activity. You're becoming a hacker!"

On and on she went, in a loud voice that I feared would wake the entire apartment building, exclaiming every other minute that she couldn't believe that I was becoming a hacker and that hackers can do good things. I was amused, but mostly ready to go back to sleep.  It seemed like forever before Michael and the son were finished. I waved all three of them off with a sleepy smile and then went right back to dreaming of lots and lots and lots of code.

The end.


  1. Great post! I want to teach high school girls that being a "hacker" is really cool! Check out my project at http://empowerwomen.maker.good.is/projects/techgirls