How to Unleash the Hacker Spirit

1 May 2024
                                                        Unleashing the Hacker Spirit - by David Solé                   

Unleashing the Hacker Spirit

A Journey from School to a World of Possibilities

Growing up in Catalonia, Spain, during the 1990s and 2000s, my experience with school was quite traditional. Private school meant attending classes, sitting in your chair, listening to the teacher, doing exercises, and answering questions. The routine continued with homework once classes ended, intensifying as exams entered the picture. If you flunked a subject, it meant repeating the course the following year. I repeated two years at ages 16 and 18, stuck in a system that didn't resonate with me.

During my educational journey, I realized the disconnect between this traditional approach and real-world application. Memorizing historical events or philosophical concepts seemed disconnected from reality. This rote memorization without interest, didn’t last beyond exams. At some point, I adopted the law of least effort, doing the minimum to pass while spending the least amount of time.

This attitude channeled my interest in video games—an engaging realm where you can enjoy, face challenges, discover, and explore exciting worlds. Unfortunately, this approach, combined with a lack of motivation, led to my first significant failure.

Education, as a societal tool, aims to create a stable society by equipping individuals with basic skills. However, this scalable process focuses more on control than on increasing children’s motivation or curiosity, hoping to shape a workforce that sustains the economic environment.

Public education gained importance only 200 years ago, yet in 2023, only 87% of children complete primary education, indicating we are still in the early stages of educational evolution.

The Internet, a significant catalyst for change, has connected over 5.3 billion people globally as of October 2023, 65% of the global population. While this marks substantial progress, there is much work ahead to ensure universal connectivity and the ability to learn online.

We are still in the early stages of the internet's potential.

Change of Attitude

My perspective changed when I entered university to study Network Engineering. The freedom to choose my path fueled my motivation, and there, I discovered that I like programming—it opens a whole world of possibilities to create.

I consider myself lucky to have found something that motivates and impassions me. I know people who haven’t found their passion yet, and this is something education should focus on.

About halfway through my university life, I shifted my attitude from the law of least effort to “learn as much as you can.” I got rid of the lazy attitude by looking at my life as if I were an external observer. If an effort doesn’t kill you and you are doing what you want, it doesn’t matter how big this effort is because you will be enjoying the path.

This “learn as much as you can” attitude makes sense when you desire to build something yourself. The learnings you do today will be the tools you will use in your future. I also got inspired by Robert T. Kiyosaki and his book “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” It wasn’t easy at first, but when you’re in the dynamic, things start to fall into place.

Remember, your mind is your greatest asset, so be careful what you put into it.

—Robert T. Kiyosaki

In my uni days, I found alignment with the hacker attitude outlined by Eric S. Raymond in 1997. The five principles he shared continue to resonate:

  1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.

  2. Nobody should ever have to solve a problem twice.

  3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.

  4. Freedom is good.

  5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

    Glider, an emblem proposed by Eric S. Raymond to represent the hacker subculture

These principles guide my journey and remain relevant in today's context. The hacker mindset, rooted in curiosity, problem-solving, and the desire to learn more, inspires a lifelong learning journey—one that transcends traditional educational boundaries.

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