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You know what's cool? Ignoring what other people think is cool.

Who cares if 'yuppies' 'gentrify' hacking. You neither have to stop doing what you like because groups you don't care for have noticed nor do you have to waste energy and time and fight against them for doing so.

Do what you want to do regardless. That is the answer to the author's questions.

If you are a hacker, or artist or music lover or anything else of a certain type merely because someone else isn't of that type you are not really that thing.

You are going to find posers as a sub-culture enters the general awareness but you are also going to find trickster godlings in suits with boring titles on their business cards if you don't let the trappings blind you.




> Ignoring what other people think is cool.

In the end, it really isn't though.

It is a bad thing when subcultures are overrun by people who did not come to it organically. What I mean by that is at a certain point, members of a subculture gain a perceived glamour, which incentivizes outsiders to come in for superficial reasons. This dilutes the subculture's original ethos, and if it continues long enough it totally replaces it.

A perfect example of this is the Indie rock of 15 years ago. That culture has completely been obliterated and replaced by a microcosm of corporate pop music. Almost anyone I speak to knows what Indie is now. One would struggle to accurately refer to it as a subculture today. The problem is not a mere increase in population, but a dilution of the core values that initially caused people to gravitate to that scene.


members of a subculture gain a perceived glamour, which incentivizes outsiders to come in for superficial reasons

It has a real cost to the original members, in terms of their loss of immediate credibility. You see a guy with sailor tattoos. Did he serve in the Fleet, does that speak to his work ethic and skill with a chart or a diesel engine? Or does he work in advertising and drink soy lattes? You see a girl with thick-rimmed glasses. Is she an old-skool assembly hacker, or did she just think they would look cute with her "vintage" dress? It means the genuine people, who have paid their dues, need to prove themselves over and over again to everyone they meet. That is why everyone hates hipsters.


The genuine people don't care what other people think of them and don't feel a need to "prove" anything. That's what makes them genuine.


I don't think that's actually true; otherwise how would they be a part of a community with other like-minded people? How would they authenticate themselves to one another? Hell's Angels are another good example.


"I like hanging out with you; if you don't like hanging out with me that's fine, but you wanna get together and talk about X?"


Then why would any subculture have a distinctive style of dress?


> A perfect example of this is the Indie rock of 15 years ago. That culture has completely been obliterated and replaced by a microcosm of corporate pop music.

Obliterated? I think not. There is still a very vibrant indie music scene that is still truly independent and innovative and interesting -- if anything it is more vibrant today than it ever was (this is a scene I know a bit about). Some was picked up by the mainstream, sure, but much more was not simply because it wasn't palatable to the corporate pop music listener.

And, honestly, I love the indie music scene's response which was largely 'Well that's nice for them.' and on the other side 'We have this backing or audience, who else wants to play a show or two you normally wouldn't be able to'. Rather than being seen as selling one's soul, it is just a thing that happened -- nothing more, nothing less.

But, otherwise, people was just created what they wanted to create and played shows as usual -- and they continue to do so. The indie scene may have punk ancestry, but that reactionary attitude has withered and fallen away which is good IMHO.

Granted, you are always going to have the people that will rail against 'selling out' because their ego is so tightly entwined in being The Other in these scenes but they aren't dominant in as many of these sub cultures as, say, punk or anarchist scenes for two examples.


> It is a bad thing when subcultures are overrun by people who did not come to it organically.

Having seen an uncountable number of subcultures in popular music overrun this way, I've come to see it as an inevitability. When a subculture is pure and thriving and exciting, enjoy it while you can, for "this too shall pass."

For me the movement that was "indie rock" ended with the success of Nirvana; after that "indie rock" became the label for a musical genre (which was weird, because "indie rock" was as much the label of a business practice as it was the label of a musical genre).


>> Ignoring what people think is cool > In the end, it really isn't though.

It's true. The answers are not all found within. An idealized process would more like: Find out about something cool. Working with those people/that scene to improve it. Detect when it's losing its ideals. Nudge it back toward its ideals.

Lots of people who hack out of pure curiosity. It's how humans work and got to be the way we are. That's an ideal. Nowadays, we have people with lots of money distracting the hackers, saying, "Hey, why are you just doing that for the hell of it? You have skills, help me make money and you can have some, too."

It doesn't sound bad on the surface, but it goes wrong for everyone when the idea of someone have "skills" is abstracted to mean "skills that I can use to make $." Most hacking (lock picking, software stunts, diet coke and Mentos) is not commericially useful, at least not directly. But when a hacker suspends their natural desire and directs it toward someone else's ends, the natural "curiosity vector" is not followed. It's not bad, it's just the death of an ideal. The best we can do is help each other identify when we're compromising too much on our curiosity and ideals in chasing that holy billion dollars.


It seems to be more about not perpetrating destructive cultural values. Tech elite use the natural curiosity of tech lovers for their own benefit, sometimes subversively. Is that good or bad? Depends on whether the tech lover cares or not. But if the tech lover doesn't even realize they are contributing to potentially detrimental cultural values then they can't make an informed and mindful decision.


> Who cares if 'yuppies' 'gentrify' hacking.

Indeed, the term 'hacker' has survived the media's use/definition of it through the 80s and 90s as a "computer criminal." Today we distinguish between black hat and white hat, but the term "hacker" still applies.




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