Hackers used to be known by the color of their hats: black, white, and gray. There were good guys, bad guys, and in-between guys. Nowadays, hacking is the new caché in the self-improvement culture. Self-hacking is the ultimate DIY — it’s how you step up, take responsibility, get it done.
Remember DU Law professor Debra Austin from the Killing Them Softly series? Here’s her advice re: neural self-hacking for stressed-out lawyers. Or check out this video on neural self hacking, Google style. And how about this conference in London last summer on The Future of Self-Hacking that asked:
“What are the best methods for “hacking” improvements on ourselves? What do recent insights from science and technology have to say about self-development? What methods are likely to become more widespread in the not-too-distant future?”
At that conference, an all-star group of presenters talked about:
- Smart methods to improve our consciousness, memory, and creativity
- Meditation as self-engineering
- Diet, drugs, and supplements – impacts on fitness and performance
- Actions based on self-measurement (QS: quantified self)
- Best insights into goal-setting, affirmations, etc
- Risks and opportunities in the frontier lands of DIY brain-hacking and mind-hacking.
Hacking may be enjoying a surprising new respectability in its social status, but not all quarters of the hacking culture are so benign. Hacking still has an edge where the radicals hang out, playing a sort of X Games version of the democratization of knowledge. That’s where you find WikiLeaks, open source social entrepreneurship, corporate open source and its anti-intellectual property orientation, and the rest of the voices denouncing the keeping of ANY kinds of secrets or protecting proprietary interests in them.
- In the realm of law, these radical players will increasingly bypass conventional modes of entry into the legal profession and law practice, and will offer their own alternative solutions to perceived injustice and inequities.
- These radical players are already changing the law, hacker-style.
- And they will continue to do so.
Consider, for example, the swift race towards justice we see daily in online news, as surveillance footage and ubiquitous smart-phone videos capture people in the act. Or consider the kind of visceral responses we make to images captured on police body cameras. As lawyers debate about them, these technologies are already changing evidentiary standards and criminal investigative methods. It’s not hard to imagine other applications — if you need to prime the pump, Google “whistle-blowing as cultural ethos” and check out what comes up.
Hacker law is the law of outcry and outrage, fueled by an insistent impatience that flies in the face of the law’s historical emphasis on rational, language-based deliberation. Are those who practice it vigilantes? Anarchists? Underground heroes? Tomorrow’s Gandhis and MLKs? It depends on where your sympathies lie, but like it or not, the hacker ethos has invaded the law. And, as is true of all the trends we’re looking at in this series, we’ve only seen the start of it.