When I was 15 or 16 I saw the move “Hackers” and it became my fantasy. I never spray painted my computer or learned how to roller blade; I thought learning to crack was the sure path to my “Hackers” enlightenment.
As I past through different scenes: academia, hackathons, the startup life, electronic music clubs… each world offering a taste but not quite fully encapsulating my fantasy.
Over the years I’ve had this urge to create some gathering place for hackers. First it was the “Hacker Hotel,” and most recently the “Hacker Bar.” Of course, in each scenario I imagine the bunker the characters in “Hackers” hang out in. On paper, these ideas quickly morph into kushier hangouts for startup folks.
At Electric Forest this year, my friend Andrew broke out a “Tron costume” and I remember slapping his back and shouting “you’re keeping the hacker spirit alive!”
It’s all I’ve ever hoped to do, but I can’t even explain what the hacker spirit is.
It’s somewhere between startup life and touring with Phish in a converted school bus. It’s blasting Gramatik out of a speaker while riding a neon yellow bike around downtown NYC. It’s wearing Google Glass at a standup desk with three monitors. It’s smoking hookah in UV light in your dirty old basement. It’s going to the arcade everyday to play DDR. It’s starting your ancient car with a switch you wired in yourself from RadioShack. It’s being a virtual worker. It’s a warehouse full of 3d printers, laser cutters, and an auto bay. It’s doing yoga to dubstep. It’s knowing your friends as screen names first and flesh months later.
Like any culture it’s impossible to define, but you know what it means to be a part of.