Hacker Culture

Note: while every opinion is valid and worthwhile, I would like respondents to this question to be primarily aged 30 or younger (or very early 30s). I think the most value will be gained by those that fall into a younger generation gap, which is why I’m specifying an age limitation. Us oldsters have had our time to speak, I’d like to hear from the young’uns.

This post is inspired by a Mastodon post I saw earlier today: Lesley Carhart :unverified:: "We need to have a talk, and I’m having a really h…" - Infosec Exchange

The gist is that hacker conferences are, by-and-large, created, run, and promoted by and for hackers that are over 30 and therefore use a bunch of references from the '80s and '90s that a lot of younger hackers don’t understand and maybe don’t even like because they’re not relevant to them. The question that I latched onto from the post above was this:

What does “hacker culture” mean to someone that is 30 years old or younger?

In other words, for y’all just starting out (relatively speaking), what comes to mind when you hear the term “hacker”? What does it mean to you? I, as one of those “old” hackers, am very curious to expand my horizons and consider what hacker culture has become while I’ve been busy being stuck in the '90s and reliving glory days.

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Regrettably, I can only share my perspective as someone from Germany. Here in Germany, we have the Chaos Computer Club (CCC), which frequently hosts events and plays a prominent role in the hacking community. Whether it’s our local CCC groups or CCC’s associates and friends, they’re all actively involved.


CCC was my introduction to this community, and what struck me from the beginning was the emphasis on age not being a factor. This is likely tied to the club’s ethical principles, as you can read about in the Hacker Ethic.

Regrettably, I can’t provide a firsthand assessment of how things are in other countries. However, I have observed that events like Defcon seem to cater more to individuals who have been part of the scene for a longer time, and it appears there are fewer younger participants.

Returning to the CCC, as I mentioned earlier, age doesn’t really factor in there. This continues to hold true today, and it’s heartening to see a growing presence of younger individuals within the CCC and the broader German-speaking hacking community :slight_smile:

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I’m extremely tired tonight and suffering from my neurological damage but I think I’d just point you at Steven Levy’s Hackers, the Hacker Ethic, the MIT AI Lab, that stuff, and the 90s cyberpunk culture. I’m 21 but I’m real old school that way, I’m absolutely fascinated and captivated by the original hackers Levy documented, and have been since thirteen years old when I first read his book, and I’ve recently been on an extended exploratory jaunt through an extremely interesting curated archive of old 90s cyberpunk writing that I found in preparation for writing a cyber+punk manifesto (I’ve mirrored the archive to my own site, here: https://cyberpunk.neonvagabond.xyz)

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Nice! Thanks for the pointer, and a really good website to have in my bookmarks!

Sounds like your vision of today’s hacker culture is essentially “the same as it ever was”, that the old school is still relevant and even desirable in your view, yes? So you’re saying that there’s no disconnect between “O.G.” hackers and today’s young cyberpunks? Interesting. Thank you for sharing your perspective! :smiley:

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The OG hacker culture is still extremely relevant and desirable for me, much like classic punk rock is for me, but I’ve always been sort of an atavism, so I wouldn’t necessarily expand that to say there’s no disconnect between the larger youth hacker culture and old head hackers — just that for me, I’m an old school hacker :slight_smile:

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