Hacking the real world

Posted by in What's Hot

Hacking has traditionally been an
activity whereby people tried to break into computer systems and
networks. They either did this with malice(to steal credit card
information) or good intentions(to improve the security of the system
or to lean how it works). The former spawning the term black hat and
the latter spawning the term white hat. Hacking initially started
with phone phreaking and went via the era of Kevin Mitnick to the
script kiddies of today. Kevin Mitnick himself by the way went from a
hacker who was
to a well respected security
and speaker with probably the world’s coolest business card pictured above.

Hackers were brought to us through such
cinematic gems as ‘The
‘ and ‘Hackers.’
The former should be especially entertaining if watched now. Ever
notice how the movies and TV always seem to get computers wrong? Look
at this nails on the blackboard cringing clip from CSI New York

for a good example. Of course there were good hacker movies too, such
as the impeccable true to life portrayal presented in War
. Despite this computer hacking culture is very much alive
and well today present in such awesome things as the Black Hat

The term hacking is now however under
threat. From all sides it is being stretched into all directions much
like Oprah’s pants. Sites, such as LifeHacker
give you tips on how to make your life more efficient. Other
sites show you how to hack
every day objects such as coke machines
. Hacking is now turning
into a term that means, “experimenting playfully with technology.”
It is becoming a synonym for make. Even though many “hacking sites”
now talk about Hacking
rather than the intricacies of computer security the spirit
of hacking is still alive in them. A curious group of pioneers
exploring, learning about and experimenting with new technology:
hacking if you will.

People are even hacking Ikea, with this
niche instructional post Hack-a-Lack, a tool
for people who have
to put together a lot of Ikea Lack tables.

World of Warcraft treadmill
, so you walk as much as your avatar
walks anyone?

The original hardware lifehacker was of
course MacGyver and here
is a complete list of problems solved by MacGyver
, oh wikipedia
font of knowledge will you never cease to amaze me. (via

wanted a touch screen PSP

want to see a Roomba being controlled by a Wii balance board

Photo credit: Nathan Y under Creative Commons share alike.


  1. Peter Weijmarshausen


    fun post! Especially the CSI bit :-)

    I would like to add that the mix up started with the fact that there are actually two phenomena that are often mixed up:
    - Hacking, the “art” of slapping code together
    - Cracking, the well euhmmm of getting access to computers without permission

    The first is now being extended to other domains than the computer domain. The confusion starts when media started to confuse hackers (coders) with crackers.


  2. Joris Peels

    Yeah dude, thanx for the compliments!

  3. emansipater

    You have the dichotomy in use of the word ‘hacking’ down, but the order is off. Originally the term was applied in the general sense of tinkering, especially with technology, but later was misunderstood by the media and thus general public as applying only to “breaking in” to computers. While an artful break-in may be termed “hacking”, the vast majority of computer security breaches are not and the usage of the term by those such as LifeHacker is in fact more appropriate to the original meaning.

    More details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack_(technology_slang)


  4. Joris Peels

    eMansipater, thanx for that!

    Yeah, I guess hacking really meant “artful” and perhaps what people in the “make” community are doing now is more true to “hacking’s” origins than the 80′s depection of hackers in movies.

  5. Shapeways Blog

    German hacker and security consultant who goes by the name “Ray” demonstrated Friday at the Hackers On Planet Earth conference in New York a 3d printed & laser cut keys that open high security handcuffs. He was able to open h

Comments are closed.