Hacking for Good.
These days it’s nearly impossible to get through a news cycle without hearing a story about hacking. The term has been getting a bit of a bad rap lately, mostly associated with breaches in cybersecurity and personal identity theft. However, hacking isn’t inherently nefarious, and the tradition of hacking has actually done a lot of good for the world.
Hacking is simply a creative framework to solve problems rapidly by looking at them in new ways and, when placed in the right hands, it has the potential to inspire some incredible change.
Let's start with the word “hack.” Some of the earliest uses of the term refer to approaching some kind of tech problem with a sense of fresh curiosity that takes you on a creative path to a new, often unexpected solution. Today, hacking can be used to describe anything from a creative way to use the volume button on your earbuds to take better iPhone pictures, to a discovering a new method for peeling hard-boiled eggs (see also, “life hacks”).
Hacking simply means creating a new solution to an old problem: looking at the world with a fresh perspective and seeing something different and, perhaps, better.
In a lot of ways, hacking is like seeing things from a child’s point of view, before the tacit rules that govern how we interact with reality have been hardcoded (pun definitely intended). This kind of fresh thinking has driven Silicon Valley tech culture to embrace hacking as a method of innovation. Many companies even sponsor in-house hackathons - multi-day competitive events in which groups of people work collaboratively to take on a challenge often involving computer programming, app design, and robotics.
Hackathons have become so popular that Forbes Magazine, has deemed them an excellent way for would-be entrepreneurs to get their business idea off the ground and secure a little funding in the process.
There are even philanthropic and socially responsible hackathons like Earthhack, Hack for Good and the Green Hackathon that use a hacker mentality to address serious social and environmental issues. These hackathons have spawned some really inspiring products and companies to tackle issues that impact everyone, like an app that uses the camera on your phone to determine if a piece of garbage is recyclable - that’s pretty cool!
Hacking is becoming so important to national security that the US Army now sponsors a hacking conference for kids to learn ethical hacking skills. These techniques known as “white hat” hacking are taught over the course of a week-long workshop where kids learn everything from how to hack door locks to how computer games work.
While hacking may have gotten off on the wrong foot with the media and popular culture, hacking has always been an incredibly valuable tool for society. Teaching our kids how to solve problems creatively might be one of the most important skills that we can foster to help them thrive. The Hack computer provides a safe environment for kids to not only pick up the skill of coding but also understand that it is within their power to change the world around them.
Learn more about the Hack Computer here