Image via Wikipedia
I guess I better define the word hack – in the 21st century:
1. To program a computer in a clever, virtuosic, and wizardly manner. Ordinary computer jockeys merely write programs; hacking is the domain of digital poets. Hacking is a subtle and arguably mystical art, equal parts wit and technical ability, that is rarely appreciated by non-hackers. See hacker.
2. To break into computer systems with malicious intent. This sense of the term is the one that is most commonly heard in the media, although sense 1 is much more faithful to its original meaning. Contrary to popular misconception, this sort of hacking rarely requires cleverness or exceptional technical ability; most so-called “black hat” hackers rely on brute force techniques or exploit known weaknesses and the incompetence of system administrators.
3. To jury-rig or improvise something inelegant but effective, usually as a temporary solution to a problem. See noun sense 2.
Picture is of Bruce Sterling a sci-fi and non-fiction writer and author of: “The Hacker Crackdown”. He brought the subculture of computer hackers to the attention of the broader public.
The term hack now has extended beyond the specific use in the computer hacker subculture as we can see from a number of websites: lifehacker.com, mindhacks.com
So in the life, mind, health avenue, hacks are referring to: the translation of scientific research into practical, usable techniques that can be implemented to improve ones life, health and brain – combined with some common sense and real world experience and a touch of “subtle and arguably mystical art, equal parts wit and technical ability” that allows improvement on the original default situation.
Now maybe my mother will understand what I mean by a brain health hack.
JB pointed out an article from the NY Times that had a quote that I found interesting:
“My colleague Francis Crick used to say that God is a hacker, not an
engineer,” Dr. Ramachandran said. “You can do reverse engineering, but
you can’t do reverse hacking.”
Ramachandran is referring to the difficulty of how difficult (or near impossible) it is to understand the biological system at the normal engineering level we are used to since the system is hacked (see #3 definition of hack above) together in such a willy-nilly fashion. But this still leaves the option of further hacking (definition # 1 above – and my definition of a biological hack) to counter and fix the number 3 definition of hack left over from the work of “God” – feel free to substitute the word “nature”.
Do you think that a hacked system (brain/body) is hackable ?
You can check out the brain hack category on the side to find some brain hacks I have written since I posted this piece orginally.