When I was young, the ‘hacking’ I knew was messy. Hacking a branch off a tree was sloppier than cutting it off. Hacking was also the loud bursts of a spasmodic cough you could hear coming out of heavy cigarette smokers. And of course, hacking was the description serious golfers gave to my golf swing. The fact that I unintentionally hacked off a few plants at the roots with a gold club made me a hacker.
Then came personal computers, their coded languages, and the unauthorized access to other’s data. Computer hacking was born. If you hacked, you were a hacker. Hackers were, and many still are, devious, spreading bugs, viruses and stealing what isn’t theirs.
Then at some point in recent evolution, we included building something quickly and being able to solve a problem using a shortcut, as part of the hacking definition. Hacking became a good thing. You can now find online life-hacking tips. Dave Asprey, in his book Head Strong, discusses various techniques for hacking the brain to optimize its use.
Vanessa Van Edwards, the author of Captivate, outlines a multi-step approach to hacking the personality traits of others, for enhanced relationships. I recently read a blog post by a doctor discussing the benefits of exercise hacking to improve workouts. Hackety, hack, hack, hack.
Many of us are looking for shortcuts and tricks to gain an edge. That now means hacking, which is okay, if, in the end, we are more productive, efficient, healthier, and good to each other.
If that’s the case, count me in. I could be down for some serious hacking, wherever I can find it.
October 2, 2017 Update:
The Hacking of the American Mind, by Dr. Robert Lustig, maybe a hack worth considering.