Hack Value

roomba revised by christoph niemann

Hack value is the notion among hackers that something is worth doing or is interesting. This is something that hackers often feel intuitively about a problem or solution; the feeling approaches the spiritual for some. An aspect of hack value is performing feats for the sake of showing that they can be done, even if others think it is difficult. Using things in a unique way outside their intended purpose is often perceived as having hack value. Examples are using a matrix printer to produce musical notes, using a flatbed scanner to take ultra-high-resolution photographs or using an optical mouse as barcode reader.

A solution or feat implies hack value if it is done in a way that has finesse or ingenuity. So creativity is an important part of the meaning. For example, picking a difficult lock has hack value; smashing a lock does not. By way of another example, proving Fermat’s last theorem by linking together most of modern mathematics has hack value; solving the four color map problem by exhaustively trying all possibilities does not (both of these have now in fact been proven).

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