In my lifetime I’ve known three meanings of the word “hack”: to go at something with a sharp implement; to (criminally) break into computing resources that you shouldn’t; and to botch a bit of programming to get it working, or just to see whether something might do.

None of those definitions are particularly positive.

Led by the new belief that everyone needs to code for the future of humanity (for me as relevant as everyone needing to be able to strip down the clutch mechanism of a car), it’s now become a positive term. Let’s organise a hackathon to growth hack our culture, man!

Have we really become so shallow that we refuse to address any change unless it can be delivered instantly? Is everything just about tweaking, making minor adjustments?

The problem with hacking is that it’s not sustainable. You either break something outright, or you build up such debt from constant expediency that eventually it comes crashing down. Hello retail banks, I’m looking at you and your layers of realtime banking services built on top of 1970s batch processing!

We can’t take forever doing things. Some things can happen quickly. Some just can’t.

Being able to run a series of those long-, mid- and short-term things in parallel delivers on the instant gratification needs of today, but makes change happen more deeply too. But not by just constantly hacking…

One thought on “Hacked off

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