The Hacker Ethic Hardcover – 1 Feb 2001
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Despite the title The Hacker Ethic is a philosophical essay contrasting the Western capitalist world view with those of hackers. In this context, hackers are those passionate about any subject, not just computers.
The book starts with an essay by Linus Torvalds and finishes with a thoughtful 75-page essay by Manual Cassels called "Informationalism and the Network Society". At its heart though, is the paradox summed up on page 60, "Present capitalism is based on the exploitation of scientific communism". This simply means companies make money based on information provided by scientists for free. This results in an ethical quandary. Companies eagerly seize information freely provided by hackers yet withhold information discovered by themselves. An indefensible position.
Himamen claims hackers work because what they're doing interests them and disseminating what they learn brings the respect of their peers while others work for money and enjoy the envy of their peers. His arguments are well illustrated with ideas from Plato, through medieval village life, protestantism, academia, the industrial revolution and more. He concludes the information revolution makes work central to our lives, soaking up the time and energy necessary for play, for the pursuit of personal passions.
He isn't whistling "Dixie". Who do you know with a hobby? How many talk to their families? Most spend their free time watching actors pretend to be members of passionate families. This is essential reading for anyone who wonders what their life is about. Hackers don't need to read it. --Steve Patient
"A person can be a hacker without having anything to do with computers."
"A thoroughly spirited and commendable framework for human creativity."
"As comprehensive and instructive as any [survey] to date... Himanen has a powerful grasp on that strangely intoxicating contradiction that is open-source."
--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."
--Salon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Getting to the epilogue by Castells I completely lost track. Castells kept pulling in more and more context until I overflowed.
A great comparison of individualism and indutrialisation, creativity and the production line, morality and profit, (linux and microsoft?), intellectual honesty and trade secrets. Its comparisons of the two models are not investigated very deeply but if you have more than a passing familiarity with the two models you'll recognise why one wins over the other in all cases. Unfortunately I suspect that unless you have that understanding this wi ll do little to explain what the difference really is.
In particular, Himanen's comparison of the hacker ethic to the protestant work ethic struck me as apposite. There's lots of other good stuff in there too, including a great joke about God designing the earth by committee (well, it made me smile).
The introduction by Linus Torvalds is certainly worth a read, although I found the final chapter by Manuel Castells a little verbose - to me, it was stylistically quite different from either of the other authors and seemed out of place.
All in all though, I'd thoroughly recommend this book. It's a quick read and most people will get something out of it.
One other thing, the author is Pekka Himanen. Linus Torvalds only wrote a short introduction.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Certainly an interesting read on the core values the "Hacker" supposedly stands by. It makes frequent references to "The Protestant Work ethic and the spirit of capitalism" and I... Read morePublished on 3 May 2004 by Alexander Smith
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