Capitalism vs Hacker-ism

Well this blog can never be a showcase of my writing prowess or my general know-how. I’m a random person and you- my friend, are a random reader. I have not thoroughly studied either capitalism or hacker-ism and yet here I’m narrating my views- derived from my personal musings. Welcome to my little world where thought-trails take precedence over priorities.

I idolize Elon Musk. A couple of months back I wandered on one such thought-trail that in order to have a purpose in life I need to have something bigger to do- look around folks, Elon Musk wants to save humanity, Mahatma Gandhi wanted to end war without bloodshed, Mother Teresa wanted to help the poor and underprivileged and Steve Jobs wanted our appliances to be marvelous and simple extensions to our life. I told myself upon this realization that- “Parth, you gotta have something of your own? What is it that you care about?” No answer.

Yes, many a times it’s simply incomprehensible that what is it that we want from our life. But lately, I have learnt to get around difficult questions. It’s easy- think of an answer just for the heck of it. No answer is a wrong answer. So I thought that Crocodiles and Sharks have survived  nearly every major natural calamity on Earth, so living underwater would be a pretty safe bet in order to survive the great filter  (The Fermi Paradox)  Look it up you lazy bums! And anyway we can’t possibly take all of us fat-heads to Mars. Yeah, we can start a new colony there but all of us would die here. Happy Realization!

So just for the heck of it- My thing is Underwater Colonies. Fast-forward to what I’m up to and why did I choose to write about Capitalism vs Hacker-ism. Unlike most of my friends I chose not to go for Masters and instead I’ve taken up a gamble at working on my project- an Underwater drone.

Working on this project is presenting me with wonderful dilemmas like- Should I file for a patent? Should I scramble some worthless work and try to get it published in some mediocre journal? How should dupe I investors into believing that I’ve already made something really great?

What started merely as a fun project has turned into a sham game- all because of the desire to be successful. So what is it about money and success that it robs us of our happy lives?

Trust me the best part is- Do not fucking listen to the society. Everyone’s an idiot. Everyone’s a chicken little. Everyone’s got cold feet. They will scare the hell out of you with their “What if you…fail?”. Money acts like a security blanket and your parents, family and friends only mean well for you and they’ll coax you into believing that if you’re rich then life’s good. Well, that’s not how it works.

There are two aspects we need to deal with here- hacker work ethic and hacker money ethic. Work ethic deals with our motivation to do work. What about money as a motivation? Money is motivational for what it brings- it’s the ultimate bartering tool for the things we really care about. One thing to note about money is that it’s usually easy to buy survival but it is much harder to buy social ties and entertainment. Especially Entertainment with a capital E- the kind that gives your life meaning. One should not dismiss the social impact of having money, whether you buy something or not. Money remains a powerful thing, but still it is just a proxy for other more fundamental motivating factors. (ref. from Linus’s Law)

Hackers are not motivated by money they are motivated by their playful explorations and by being a part of the community which shares their interests/hobbies. They thrive on their dedication to an activity that is intrinsically interesting, inspiring and joyous.

The notion of work as a duty lies at the core of the capitalist spirit that arose in the sixteenth century.  Not only a developed sense of responsibility is absolutely indispensable, but in general also an attitude which, at least during working hours, is freed from continual calculations of how the customary wage maybe earned with a maximum of comfort and a minimum of exertion. One need not look very far to realize how strong a force this Protestant ethic still is. Commonplace remarks like, “I want to do my job well,” or those made by employers in their little speeches at employee retirement parties about how a person “has always been an industrious/responsible/loyal worker” are the legacy of the Protestant ethic in that they make no demands on the nature of work itself. the elevation of work to the status of the most important thing in life-at its extreme, a work addiction that leads to complete neglect of one’s loved ones- is another symptom of the Protestant ethic. (ref. The Hacker Ethic, Pekka Himanen)

I have a deadline to meet, I need to show my progress to a senior scientist after two weeks. Yesterday I had a talk with him and he stressed upon areas like underwater navigation and positioning of my drone. Frankly, I have not worked upon these aspects but it’s almost in the back of my mind that I must impress him or else he will not invest in my project. This is the tipping point- miss the opportunity at this early stage of start-up or take your time and get back to him. I have a choice to make. What should I do?

Take my time and get back to him, because we have all the time in the world. Also, because Time is not money.

So much for now.  Catch you later!

There it was, Capitalism vs Hacker-ism. Shattered.

Image courtesy:

Credits: This article is inspired from the book ‘The hacker ethic’by Pekka Himanen and it’s just one of my usual thought-trails where I try to deal with my life based on what I’ve read.



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