Wednesday, July 3, 2002

hack mode

happy canada day yesterday. geek that i am, i spent about forty hours this long weekend writing. the bane of the phd student is reading something really good after finishing a piece of writing. so when this happened to me on friday, i decided to rethink and rewrite.
coders claim hack mode as their own, but i believe that it can be experienced during any intense or intricate problem-solving activity.

all i know is that the times i have sat in front of my computer - reading and thinking and typing - for 14-16 hour stretches, have been periods of indescribable pleasure for me.

there is no small element of competition involved: my personal best is 39 hours straight. and there is extraordinary pride taken in 'solving the problem' - in producing a solution. and in somehow building on others' work.

sometimes i really enjoy submitting to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the situation. and i love being able to make up the rules as i go along. it is a space in which i am genuinely free to move.

but if you're not coding, or more importantly, not surrounded by coders, there is little appreciation for hack mode: priority interrupt is immanent. this degree of immersion can be considered quite offensive and anti-social to others and one shouldn't underestimate people's propensity to breach such boundaries.

i know i'm in hack mode when i suspect i should apologise to the people close to me for becoming so inaccessible, but the immense pleasure derived from my activities seems to far outweigh any harm done, and that renders apology absurd... hence the offensive and anti-social labels ;)


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