Hacking is a Mindset, Not a Skillset (Girl Geek Dinner Presentation Script and Slides)

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was the guest speaker for Girl Geek Dinners this month. Despite my nerves and the stress of developing an entirely new presentation for the event, the Girl Geeks did not disappoint in making me feel welcomed and supported in testing out my new material. There were about 50 people in attendance (including 2 brave males :) for the event, chatting, eating, drinking and generally nerding out. My kind of people.

In the spirit of the topic and hacker's commitment to sharing, below you will find the entire script to my presentation. Yes, I use a script. It's how I work: I write and rewrite and edit continuously for weeks until the points and the stories flow. You'll notice that it might be a little different from my talk, since I did ad lib a few stories and most of the jokes :)

Creative Commons License

Now, this is licensed with a creative commons attribution, so please feel free to read them, share them, repost them, use them and build on them, but please provide proper attribution back to me as the originator. Here's more info about this license. The slides don't bear this license because the images are not mine.


In order to keep this from taking over the entire blog, I've included the ability to expand and collapse the text. Otherwise, you can download the slides and the script, posted as PDF files on Google Docs.

Full script (text)

Creative Commons License
Hacking is a mindset, not a skillset by Tanya Snook (@spydergrrl) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

When I say "hacker" what images come to mind?

Some pimply-faced kid in a dark basement, breaking into a high security website to post a picture of a LOL cat? Or a hoodied twenty something male typing furiously with his Guy Fawkes mask beside him, liberating corporate, government or military documents in the name of Anonymous? Using AutoCad software of course, as the movies would have us believe.

But how many of you have referred to yourselves as a hacker? You probably should.

My goal over the next 30 minutes or so is to either convince you that you've been hacking all along or that you really should be hacking.

Why hacking? Much like gamification is the application of game design principles to non-game uses, the principles of hacking can be applied to non-hacking uses. And I don't mean by sitting at a computer every day; I mean by hacking in the true spirit of the word.

You see, originally, hacking had nothing to do with computer programming: In fact, "hack" was originally a term used to describe pranks performed by MIT students: their pranks are projects or products that are completed to some end, but that also afford the participants some enjoyment by the mere fact of participating. The MIT hackers describe what we call "hacking" as "cracking". When the MIT hackers hack, their goal is to devise "a clever, benign, and 'ethical' prank or practical joke, which is both challenging for the perpetrators and amusing to the MIT community."

+/- Expand to view entire script