I’m old enough to remember when the word “hack” had far fewer meanings than it does today.
There was the obvious verb usage – whacking away at something with a blade, for instance
There was the less obvious, but still clear adjective usage – as in “hack writer” (who apparently didn’t have the skills and/or interest to do a good job with any finesse or flair) .
As I got older, new meanings came into usage – such as computer hacking: being able to work your way into someone’s program or system code (usually for nefarious purposes).
As time went on, we saw computer hackers less as villains and more as adventurers so the meaning of hacking expanded as well. It now had a certain flavor of cleverness or wiliness.
Of course there’s a downside to that if someone hacks your account and gets private or sensitive information. There is also having an online address accessed and “vandalized” whereby the hacker points your address to another site or location – as recently happened to me! An old domain name I had used in the past (and still unknowingly had on one of my sites) was hacked and the perpetrator pointed my visitors to a porn site!
Now that was embarrassing and quite frankly truly felt like a violation. I shudder to think how many people might have followed one of these links expecting to see my information and had their eyes assaulted by porn.
[word to the wise: clean up all old addresses and check all links periodically!!]
But then we get to a really interesting use of “hack” – the idea of a “life hack”.
Now we’re talking about ways to make your experience of life itself better!If you want to see some cool ones, check this out: https://www.facebook.com/lifehacks
Why didn’t we have that when I was a kid? Oh wait, we did; we called them good ideas.
I have to say that while technology has made some things more difficult (consider the seeming inability of some people to focus on any one subject for more than a few moments or the actual inability of some folks to avoid being online nearly every waking moment), it has also made other things so much easier (remember when you wanted to know the meaning of a word or even the spelling and you’d ask your parents and they’d say “look it up” meaning in the dictionary and you’d say “well, if I knew how to find it in the dictionary then I would know how to spell it” ?
Ah, the good old days.
Or how about trying to find a good…well…a good anything! We’d ask around and if we were lucky enough to know someone who had knowledge of the item, store, doctor,vacation spot, whatever, then we’d have to consider what we knew about the person who gave us the information to decide if we trusted their judgment.
Very iffy (to use the technical term).
Now, we go online and use one (or more) of an ever-growing number of search engines, specialized data gatherers, surveys of groups we know we’d feel trust-worthy, and on and on.
Totally cool hack!
Yeah, accounts get hacked and weird emails get sent to all your friends.
Yeah, websites get hacked and links are corrupted.
Yeah, it’s easier than ever for someone to hack your personal data and “steal” your identity.
But then again, we just have to be a bit shrewder, a bit more attentive, a bit more cautious.
Ya know, I’ll bet it’s been like that as long as there have been thinking creatures around. Psst, hey, Joe…did you see Larry? crawled right out of the muck and he’s like walking or something out there…pond hack!!
Anyway, here’s to happy, successful, productive – and strictly legal – hacking!