Hacking and martial arts
22 November 2004
For those computer people out there who don't know who Eric S Raymond is you've got a long way to go on what I'm about to write about. If you're not even into computers I can say that ESR is an old time computer hacker (not cracker which is something different) who is known for his views, publications, books and the fact that few people know as many programming languages as he does. He's simply pretty damn good with serious computer usage.
Anyway, in his How To Become A Hacker I read some interesting things today. The most striking one is this:
"Points For Style
Again, to be a hacker, you have to enter the hacker mindset. There are some things you can do when you're not at a computer that seem to help. They're not substitutes for hacking (nothing is) but many hackers do them, and feel that they connect in some basic way with the essence of hacking. [...]
Train in a martial-arts form. The kind of mental discipline required for martial arts seems to be similar in important ways to what hackers do. The most popular forms among hackers are definitely Asian empty-hand arts such as Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wing Chun, Aikido, or Jiu Jitsu;..."
I do martial arts!! Great, because it means I'm approaching hacker status which is something I've been striving for for a long time.
Let me explain.
I really like my job and it's not uncommon that I do nearly the same stuff at home as I do during "office hours". This consequently means that I want to be good at it and not just ok and to get good at it I need to take the plunge of being a normal person into being a geeky hacker. Because I naively think that by being a hacker (or honestly getting the hacker status) means that I will write better code, produce better computer systems and be smarter.
When you're young you worry too much about what other people think but I'm not young anymore so I don't have to care. Times have changed as well. It's now more socially acceptable to be good with computers, because people who aren't have often tried and failed, thus they look up to people who are good with computers. Sure enough, being a top footballer or rich celebrity is "cooler" but I'm not interested in people who looks down on computer geeks like myself anyway. Generally, what the whole "How To Become A Hacker" article describes is that you should take in the whole package to get good at what you want to be good at.
Some time ago my kung fu master, Dennis Ngo went on about how we have to emerge ourselves into Chinese culture, food and language to be able to develop our kung fu. To be honest, when I first heard it I thought it was nonsense but I didn't say anything; thank God! Now I know differently. Both Master Ngo and Master Eric S Raymond have a wealth of knowledge and experience I can only dream of so I should listen to their advice.