I mean from a writer’s perspective. If you had a character who was a hacker (or a cracker), how would you make him convincing. To be believable, you have to enter their mindset. Here are some ideas I’ve gotten from my computer friends and The New Hacker’s Dictionary:
- Though it’s a common stereotype that programmers can’t write, a surprising number of hackers are very able writers.
- They read science fiction and go to science fiction conventions (try it; it’s a good way to meet hackers and proto-hackers).
- They know a martial-arts form (Does this surprise you? Me too). The kind of mental discipline required for martial arts seems to be similar in important ways to what hackers do. The most popular forms are Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu, Aikido, or Ju Jitsu. The most hackerly martial arts are those which emphasize mental discipline, relaxed awareness, and control, rather than raw strength, athleticism, or physical toughness.
- They study a meditation discipline. The perennial favorite among hackers is Zen. Other styles may work well, but choose one that doesn’t require you to believe crazy things.
- They have an analytical ear for music, might appreciate peculiar kinds of music, might play some musical instrument well, or even sing.
- They appreciate puns and wordplay. Very neologistic. They nounize verbs and verbize nouns.
- The boundaries between “play”, “work”, “science” and “art” tend to disappear.
If you want to show a fake ‘hacker’, include these traits:
- A silly or grandiose user ID or screen name.
- Have them get in flame wars in their online communications
- Have them self-describe as a ‘cyberpunk’
- Have lots of spelling errors and bad grammar in their posts
Any thoughts? I’d love to hear them.
Photo credit: Pugg71
More on geeks (from my tech blog–these are all humorous):
10 Steps to Become a Better Geek
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.
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I love how you included both authentic and phony traits! Very useful for writers!
You remember Eitan from my story, don’t you? I think Bill got sick of his focus on numbers and colors. A very geeky guy.
Once again, I enjoyed reading this post. I like the elements used. Still, I often get confused who a geek is and who a nerd is? Yeah hackers, or simply put – programmers are not as stereotyped as people make us to be. We can write (I guess I can) and we have other hobbies/interests.
I tend to use ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ interchangeably, because most people do. Probably a mistake.
I would like to say I love your blog and the wonderful and beautiful things you share as well as the inspiration and smiles you bring in doing so! Thank you for being you and I hope even if you do not accept awards you will accept the sentiment expressed as I honor you with one. There is no prize that comes with the award other than my appreciation and being grateful you are part of our world and making a difference by sharing in such a positive way…
I have posted the award and link to it here I hope you will accept it or at least the sentiment behind it! http://artisticlyxpressedthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/awards-and-shared-gifts/
Aren’t you nice, Joe. Thank you for your thoughtfulness!
I’d also include on this list of Hacker traits someone that talks in techno-speak way over your head giving lengthy explanations you never really wanted to begin with when you asked your innocent question. (I know because I have a relative whose like this:) It’s dangerous to ask him any questions. You might be there all afternoon.
That’s funny. That is a good one I should include. Oddly, I love those explanations. I like to see how many of the words I understand!
It takes a certain kind of passion and determination to live and breath computers but I think I am nurturing one, at the age of two he knew how to turn the computer on. Also goes into setups and changes things in his computer and wants to be a game designer when he grows up……hacker very possible…..
That is amazing. Two! Let him go–there are great educational advantages to technology. He’ll find them with your guidance.
I’m trying to write a self-actualized character into my book. It’s very challenging to get into her head. It’s like writing about Mars. Great post!
That’s interesting. I’ve never considered that. Anything that starts ‘self-‘ or ‘my’ tends to throw me off. I don’t even know what a self-actualized character would be like. I’d have to know someone as a model.
When I look at the self-actualized pyramid I can’t even imagine getting there–it’s impossible, I think. Every time I try to write her she develops little flaws (flaws I like) so I guess she won’t be completely there 🙂 She doesn’t realize she almost perfect because she’s humble. This person is totally fictional–haha. I just wonder if she’ll be likeable. Flaws make us lovable–my opinion.
This kind of research sounds like a blast. I love geeky types. They’re so focused, I think. Better get on with more research. *_*
They are focused, and you have to notice it. They listen, answer a question–thoroughly. Don’t stop them. They’re on a roll!
Yes, I`ve met one or two. 🙂 And glad of it.
Hackers are some of my favorite people. 🙂 Then there are those who are not…thanks for clarifying, Jacqui.
There’s a story there, I can tell. Or a poem. In your case, probably a poem. Thanks, Audrey!
I have had to change my email password more times than not and I have an apple computer. Oh, and always someone showing up over there that makes me cringe a bit.
I love the idea of researching to such a depth of character here that you’d go to a sci-fi convention. I can actually imagine they’re great fun as well as productive 🙂
They are great fun. I love seeing people passionate about an interest and there is no lack of that at places like ComiCon and Defcon. It’s in Vegas this year, in August. I’m there in July for a teacher conference–darn.
For a moment I thought you have got the title wrong and that it should have been “Who is a hacker”. But, on reading, I think “what” fits better than “who”. Reminds me of a movie I saw recently, “Girl with the dragon tattoo”. Does an unhappy childhood and continued abuse fit into the mix? Perhaps making a person who likes to work alone.
Actually, ‘who’ could have worked just as well. It personalizes it in a way writers want to do.
I don’t think a challenging childhood indicates hackers, though I can see your point. They do love computers more than people. But so do animal lovers! I’d love for a hacker to weigh in on this article, provide his profile.