Some of the most interesting, provocative and salient quotes we heard around the Aspen Ideas Festival today:
“We live in an era of massive passive data, when massive amounts of data are collected passively.” - Nicholas Christakis, Professor & Director of the Human Nature Lab, Harvard University
“Networks are agnostic: they will magnify anything, good or bad. Networks magnify whatever they are seeded with.” - Nicholas Christakis
“Information, if it reaches you at the right time, can save lives and empower you.” - Monique Villa, CEO, Thomson Reuters Foundation
“There are more mobile phones in the world than toilets or toothbrushes.” – Eric Topol, Director & Chief Academic Officer of Scripps Translational Science Institute and Scripps Health
“There are three criteria for a good project: impact, uniqueness and magic.” – Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab
“Facebook has the potential to institutionalize word of mouth.” – Shelly Lazarus, Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather
“Women can have it all, but they can’t have all of it all at once all the time.” – Shelly Lazarus
Earlier this week, the winner of the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition was announced. Congratulations to team CloudTop for taking home the grand prize!
This year, we sponsored the Thomson Reuters Data Prize, a $10,000 prize awarded to a team for which an innovative use of data is core to their business. The judges decided to award the prize to Janus Data (pictured above) for a, “particularly innovative and impactful approach to data aggregation and analysis.” Well done!
Now in its 22nd year, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is a forum for students and researchers in the MIT community to act on their talent, ideas and energy to launch tomorrow’s leading firms. A year-long educational experience, the MIT $100K brings together a network of resources to help participants through the new venture construction process. Learn more about the competition here.
To learn more about the business plans that were in contention, watch the finale video.
I was reading reuters.com over the weekend (I really was, no gratuitous plug here). While in the technology section, I came across a blog titled “The real meaning of hack” by Adam Penenberg. Anyone who knows me would realize that a blog title like this is a great way to get my attention.
The first part of the article was all about Mr. Penenberg trying to convince us that he is an expert on hacking. All Mr. Penenberg convinced me is that he is a prolific writer and uses his interpretation of hack and hacker in his writings.
Mr. Penenberg goes on to state that the use of the word “hack” and all associated words is a bit out of control. I certainly think he is definitely correct in that these terms are overused and misused. What he fails to mention (or perhaps is not aware) that both terms were widely used long before becoming exclusively used in technology.
Back in the early 1980′s while I was at MIT, the terms hack, hacking and hacker were widely used, sometimes associated with technology but not exclusively. For more information on the “real” meaning of hack and the rich history behind hacking, I would suggest reading the book “Nightwork” by T. F. Peterson.
During the 1990’s the use of the term hacking began to evolve into the Merriam-Webster definition. As Mr. Penenberg mentions, many of us in the industry attempted to counter this by using the term “cracking” to differentiate the malicious activity versus the pranks or constructive use of hacking. There are quite a few of us who still insist on differentiating hacking versus cracking, but that is likely to diminish over time.
For me, I’d change the Merriam-Webster definition of hacker and revert back to the original MIT definition: “…someone who does some sort of interesting and creative work at a high intensity level. This applies to anything from writing computer programs to pulling a clever prank that amuses and delights everyone…”. Quote courtesy of the MIT IHTFP Hack FAQ site.
But as is often in the English language, certain words have a standard definition or origin, but a more common use of the word that does not necessarily adhere to the strict definition or original use of the word. The collection of terms associated with the word hack has become exclusively associated with computers and the Internet, while at the same time lacks a bounded definition.
I admit that I am guilty of creating my own use of these terms. I commonly use the term “hack” to describe a successful effort to extend the value of a product or technology beyond its original intended use. This would include bypassing product or technology barriers or creatively adding functionality to the product or technology.
Makes for an interesting debate, but in the viral world of the Internet it’s more likely that the word hack will take on more definitions as time goes on.
Always interested in hearing your thoughts.