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Programming Security Technology

Hacking - Art or Science? 220

An anonymous reader asks: "The argument regarding the principle nature of hacking - be it an art or a science is not a new one. This paper hopes to discuss both the meaning of the term 'hack' and the underlying arguments for it being defined as an art or a science, in reference to the base principles and basic methodologies of the discipline. So in your opinion, is hacking art or science?"
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Hacking - Art or Science?

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  • <silly-goof-mode>Hacking is for newbs! LOLOL!!! ROTFLMAOOMFGBBQ!111!one!!!111one</silly-goof-mode>

    (Now that I've got your attention, and had a good chuckle...)

    Let me put this to rest, once and for all. "Hacking" is not something to strive for, no matter what your defintion. What "hacking" is, is an expression of a natural problem-solving ability that all humans have. This problem solving ability can give us MacGyver-level talents allowing us to fashion a solution to any situation. Such innate talent is a good thing.

    However, expressing it as hacking means that you're creating short term or disruptive solutions rather than long term solutions that will last. When hacking meets the discipline of Engineering, all hell breaks loose. Sure, that ugly hacked code you put in now does the trick in a pinch. But if it's not replaced with a long term solution in a hurry, it will cost the company large amounts of money in support and maintenece.

    That's where true Engineering steps in. As an engineer (or architect as the case may be) you have a responsibility to weigh in all the competing factors to produce a solution that is both long term and inexpensive to maintain. Your solution may have to go through hell and back and still get the job done. You can never quite be certain of what situation your code will go through, especially if people's lives and/or fortunes depend on it.

    So in short, leave the hacking in college. It was a lot of fun when you had raw, unfocused talent, but you should be more mature than that now. Use what you know to build a real solution and leave the "hacking" to the next generation of kids. :-)
    • Wow. You might want to find out what the word means before you weigh in. What you're talking about is a form of hacking, but it's only one aspect of a much wider and more complex field. For example, I've heard Einstein's Theory of Relativity described as a beautiful hack, and I'd tend to agree.

      Most certainly, people like Edison and George Washington Carver and Eli Whitney were hackers. I'm rather glad they and others didn't leave their hacking behind when they left college (assuming, of course, that the
      • Actually, you've managed to redefine "hacking" to Alanis Morissette proportions.

        For example, I've heard Einstein's Theory of Relativity described as a beautiful hack

        Einstein didn't *change* anything. How can it be a hack? Rather, he produced a theory describing the Universe according to scientific method.

        Most certainly, people like Edison and George Washington Carver and Eli Whitney were hackers.

        Actually, they were experimenters. They experimented until they found what they were looking for.
        • I haven't redefined anything. You might want to try reading the Jargon File. []

          The entry for hacker says, in part:

          6. An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.

          7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.

          And for hack it includes:

          2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.

          4. vt. To work on something (typically a program). In an immediate sens
        • A hack is a solution to a complex problem.

          But this depends on context. If you have 3 days left to finish a project anything that get's it done FAST is elegant in that it's exactly what you want. However, if your designing a system and you come up with an elegant solution your "great" hack might be using LISP as your scripting language to greatly increase the system's flexibility while using a bunch of C++ code to leverage existing liburarys.

          Einstein's hack was to stop thinking of the would in terms of
        • For example, I've heard Einstein's Theory of Relativity described as a beautiful hack

          Einstein didn't *change* anything. How can it be a hack? Rather, he produced a theory describing the Universe according to scientific method.

          i thought hacking was overcomming problems in a short susinct(1) and sometimes dirty ways. in this way, e=mc^2 is a "hack" because its so short and memorable.

          Most certainly, people like Edison and George Washington Carver and Eli Whitney were hackers.

          Actually, they were experimenter

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I work in R&D, and I, often, describe first-generation analytical techniques, work-arounds, &c. as "hack[s]". When I do so, what I mean is that it [the "hack"] is a quick-and-dirty-but-functional-for-this-specific- c ase solution to the issue in question.

          Here's an example: estimating the density of a composite material by dividing the dry weight by the volume, as determined from the measured hydrostatic pressure caused by immersing the sample in water (weighed down with a paper-clip, and supported

      • To take a little from your post and the one above it, I think it's a little silly to try to find a definative category for 'hacking'. If nothing else, but for the reason that it all depends on the context in which you use it. (Pardon me for sticking to computer hacking references, but they are the most commonly known.)

        - It may be perfectly fine to describe a 'hack' you came up with for getting around a particular web-design problem, and the term may be used quite freely, however...
        - Use the
      • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:10PM (#13687637) Homepage

        The problem is that "hack" and "hacking" are extremely badly defined. In fact, it manages to have a few completely opposite meanings. A word that means both beautifully elegant sublimely crafted work, and crisis time horrible stopgap measure is not very well defined. Let alone the fact that the majority of people who use the word use it to mean breaking into computers. You can have heated fights about whether something is a hack or not, where both sides are equally right and completely opposite.

        A bit like with both art and science actually, but not quite. Art is notoriously difficult to define, but we all still have a similar idea about what the word means. A bit of opinion - the fact that something is or isn't functional has no relation to whether it is or isn't art.

        Science is well defined. Science is a process of finding out how things work, by thinking up a way how the world might be, and then testing that idea really rigorously. It's just that there's groups of people with agendas who try to make it look like there's a discussion alive, trying to get FSMism, creationism, moon landing denial, global warming denial, Bigfoot etc into scientific discussions. But that's just flamebait with an agenda.

        So I'd say that hacking isn't really either, except that perhaps those really elegant beautiful hacks could be seen as art.

      • Most certainly, people like Edison and George Washington Carver and Eli Whitney were hackers.

        Hah. So when people calls crackers "hackers" we get upset because they stretch and break the definition, but we get to call everyone we like "hacker" just to make ourselves feel proud and smug? It either goes both ways, or none. I prefer none.
      • people like Edison and George Washington Carver and Eli Whitney were hackers.

        Well, if we're going to discuss historical hackers, we can't leave out Lizzie Borden [], can we?

    • I've never thought of a "hack" as being necessarily short term or disruptive. I've always thought of it as exploiting a certain property of a system to acheive a result that using "traditional" methods would not be possible because of the constraints of that system.

      Eventually many "hacks" migrate into the realm of being traditional. Especially in the early computer gaming industry or the "demo scene".
    • As insightful as your post may be to some, I could at the very same time fit hacking into your view of what hacking is not.

      "However, expressing it as hacking means that you're creating short term or disruptive solutions rather than long term solutions that will last. When hacking meets the discipline of Engineering, all hell breaks loose."

      What is long-term? Days, months, years, decades? Does it not depend on the problem? Engineering is no more discipline than it is hacking away at problems. Like two sid
      • What is long-term? Days, months, years, decades? Does it not depend on the problem?

        Of course it does. As you say, Engineering can have many of the same "Art vs. Science" questions that "hacking" does.

        That is completely backwards. In college you learn the formulas, the equations, etc. In life, you hack, with what you know.

        To be clear, I think that hacking is "unfocused engineering". So you "hack" while you're still learning, but you hopefully outgrow it for the rest of your life.

        Consider the following parts.
    • "natural problem solving ability"? something like that. I'd saying "hacking" is the application of a natural ability, or even desire that humans have. That is, all humans by nature desire to know. And, when put in a system where we don't know all the rules, we hack, and build up experience. Eventually, we get a series of patterns and actions that "work" for a given situation. This is how far "hacking" can take us. Then we make some sort of leap -- or the mind does -- and we infer the principles behind what
  • It's neither (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:42PM (#13687360) Homepage Journal
    Hacking (or any programming) is neither art or science. It's applied engineering. And applied engineering is what it is.
    • Re:It's neither (Score:3, Interesting)

      If you don't create a design document, enumerate use cases, etc, etc, you can hardly claim to be doing engineering. Some programmers might be doing engineering, most "hackers" are not.

      As for art vs. science, "hacking" is clearly an art. Debugging is a science. This really isn't a hard concept. Art is a creative process, science is a tool for finding truth. Do you use the scientific method when you sit to to write code? Of course not. However, when you look at your (or someone else's) broken code, and want t
      • Design documents, etc, define "good" engineering, not engineering in general. Any sort of craft could be considered engineering.

        Art is a creative process

        Art is a creative process, but not all creative processes are art. I gave a working definition for art in another post, which I'll reproduce here:

        The problem with that definition of art [basically, anything creative is art] is that it's so broad that everything becomes art.

        I haven't thought about how to define art, but I would say it's something i

        • Hm. I would have said that any (sufficiently careful) craftsman could be considered an artist (look at the common root of "artist" and "artisan" for example). Engineers are the ones who look up things in tables and follow specifications to exacting details.

          But, I have no real desire to argue sematics (or aesthetics for that matter). But, I will say your art definition is explicitly tied to intent, which is kind of dangerous. Certainly any programmer who has called Scheme "beautiful" could argue that their s
    • Re:It's neither (Score:5, Informative)

      by ivanmarsh ( 634711 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:30PM (#13687829)
      Programming, by definition, cannot be hacking.

      The term Hacking was coined at the MIT model railroad club and it's absolute definition can be read in, of all things: "Hackers" ISBN: 0141000511 a book about the computer revolution from the inside. A very good and entertaining read I might add.

      The original meaning of the word, that was immediatly lost when the media and people who weren't hackers but wanted to be got hold of it, was: To make something do something it wasn't necessarily designed to do.

      I believe it came about when one of the MIT engineers, working on a brand new and unbelieveably expensive new computer donated to the school added functionality to the computer by jamming a screwdriver into one of the circuits.
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:37PM (#13687891)
      Hacking (or any programming) is neither art or science. It's applied engineering. And applied engineering is what it is.

      Nope. Programming is definitely NOT engineering. Not even necessarily software engineering. Some programming is part of software engineering, but not even close to all of it.

      How can people claim any ownership to the title "engineering" when they refuse to follow any kind of process. Refuse to plan. Refuse to design. Refuse to analyze. Refuse to manage anything. Refuse to follow standards. Refuse to be rigorous in their duties.

      People love to throw around the title "software engineer" when they mean "programmer". Don't get me wrong, not every piece of software needs to be engineered. Not even close. But most programmers in my 12 years of experience aren't engineers, period. But most of them wanted to be called "software engineers".

      Hacking may have some engineering elements and even some artistic elements. But most of it is brute force application of technique.

      • I agree with you entirely. The people who wrote most of the software I use couldn't possibly be engineers, or, if they are, are about the worst engineers in history. (I mean, sure Galloping Gurdy was a big expensive bridge that collapsed, but at least it stayed up a few months... that's longer than a lot of the software I use.)

        Here's the main difference:

        Engineers take responsibility for their work. Almost all software developers offer no warranty, no guarantee, they don't carry a bond to cover damages li
    • Hacking (or any programming) is neither art or science. It's applied engineering. And applied engineering is what it is.

      I think you are wrong, anything can be art, even washing the floor, if you do it right, is an art.
  • Neither. (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheCamper ( 827137 ) <SporkMasterSpork AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:43PM (#13687365) Homepage
    It's philosophy. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:43PM (#13687366)
    Perhaps a good term to some up the meaning of "hacking" is "tinkering".

    I think writing is an art.
  • It just depends on whether the person "hacking" is doing it for artful reasons or scientific reasons. What if they just do it for fun, no other reason?
  • Why can't.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by five40kix ( 853950 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:45PM (#13687395)
    It be both?

    As defined by wikipedia Art, in its broadest meaning, is the expression of creativity and/or imagination.

    Science = Reasoned investigation or study...
    • The problem with that definition of art is that it's so broad that everything becomes art.

      I haven't thought about how to define art, but I would say it's something intended to inspire a philosophical thought or emotion in another person. Based on that definition, programming (or any craft) would not qualify as art.

      I'm sure people could nitpick my definition, but I think it would cover things we would traditionally think as art. The important part is that intent counts.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Art or science... hmm. Could it be that the very question is a pointless exercise in semantics? Neither term is pejorative, so what's it really matter? Is it a fence or a wall?
  • Hacking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rectum2003 ( 686009 )
    Hacking is when science becomes art.
  • BTW, no one here should be allowed to comment on this topic unless they've seen this movie []. After all, would you be prepared if gravity were to suddenly reverse itself? Would you!? :-P
  • Computer science (Score:5, Informative)

    by wurp ( 51446 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:50PM (#13687440) Homepage
    Computer science is the art of automating anything that's been refined to a science.

    Hacking is a form of computer science.
  • by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) * <(slashdot) (at) (> on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:51PM (#13687466) Homepage Journal
    Does it have to be either? Hacking, like most things in life, is neither a fine art or a pure science, so I'm always confused why certain people try to pigeonhole some discipline into either "Art or Science".

    I hear this question over and over from some people. This question seems a little too academic and removed from reality-- if a discipline doesn't fit your narrow view of "Art or Science", perhaps the view is wrong.

    If anything, I'd say hacking could loosely be called a craft, in the same way that any trade could be considered a craft--woodcraft, glasswork, gardening, auto mechanic or, just for fun, witchcraft (Hackers do mysterious things by reciting long incantations!).

    Eventually many craftspeople are able to think outside the instruction manual and discover new ways to work their craft in ways that it wasn't intended to do.
    • I don't think that they are trying to pigeonhole it just for the sake of it. I think what people want to know is, Can you teach someone to hack. Most things in science can be taught. Most things in art cannot. No matter how hard I try, I can't draw, No matter how much I practice, I'm still not as good as those who can draw. With science, if I study hard enough, I can achieve a good amount of knowledge, and become good at science related things. With programming, can you teach someone to be a good prog
      • No matter how hard I try, I can't draw, No matter how much I practice, I'm still not as good as those who can draw.

        Drawing is most definitely something that can be taught. I used to be completely pathetic, until I learned the "magic" secret. Drawing is about learning to see, not learning to move the pencil. If you do the exercises in this book [], I guarantee that inside of a couple weeks, you'll be able to draw similar to the picture on the cover. No one ever believes me, but I'm not kidding. Drawing from l

        • But now we get to the question, is drawing something exactly as we see it, or copying other people's work actually art? Most people who could type could probably copy a program, having the source code available. It's the actual creative process that is what we call art. People who can draw disney cartoons are not artists, the people who originally came up with the characters are. In the same way, I've met a lot of people who know a fair bit about programming, but can't even come close to making somethin
      • No, I don't think you can study to become a good scientist any more than you can study to become a good artist. With science, you can learn the equations, and the maths (although there's no guarantee you'll be any good at it), and still not truly understand any of it. That will prevent you from doing any of your own research; at best, you'll be a walking text book, but certainly not a scientist.

        If you do have that grasp of the subject, though, it's a different matter, just as it is for those who can draw an
    • Their are hacks that are beautiful design solutions, constructed by someone who knows what they are doing. Sometimes they are the result of being "the new guy" on a five year old spaghetti code POS. Othertimes they are necessity of invention.

      For example, one trick I use in pre-generics Java, is casting to enforce type during deep copies of collections:

      public void setJunk(Collection c) throws ClassCastException {
      this.junk = new HashSet();
      for(Iterator i = c.iterator(); i.hasNext(); )

  • Hacking something together is craft, or somewhat like an art. (Since the things produced are to have practical value it's not just an art.)

    Mixed with a formal process and a good architecture hacking becomes engineering.
  • by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@thomaslee[ ] ['cop' in gap]> on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:53PM (#13687476) Homepage
    ...from John Littler on O'Reilly's OnLAMP is here []. He's got some nice quotes, including this one from Fred Brooks:
    The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.
    And is programming is art, this use of StringBuffer [] is... bad art.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:53PM (#13687483) Homepage Journal
    It's more like 4R7.
  • isn't science an art?
    and art also a science?
  • Er... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by woah ( 781250 )
    Couldn't it be both?

    I mean neither of the two disciplines describe perfectly what hacking is. Then again, parallels can be drawn between hacking and either discipline. So, I think the answer is both.

  • "Hackers" cracked systems.

    Then came the early 90's.

    All the kids that took CS to become "Hackers" found out that it was often a very less than honorable profession. Since their underinflated ego didn't like the name "programmer", they started to lift the term hacker for themselve, and replace the negative with the label cracker.

    Those of us that were there, and awake during the late 70's and early 80's know exactly what a "hacker" is.

    "Cracker" may be more appropriate these days, but it is the "bastardised" de
  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:56PM (#13687510) Journal
    is a term used by worthless cowboy coders who think they are hot for slapping togehter a POS programm that barely works, some of the time, and is unmaintainable.

    The less I see of it the easier my life becomes. Usually I have to spend hours fixing their crap before I can do my job. Often I just throw it away.
  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:57PM (#13687529)
    In my opinion, the completely vapid nature of the paper gets in the way of answering the question posed. But, then, I think the question is a useless one to ask in the first place. From the conclusion of TFA:

    The beauty of this argument is ... the fact that ultimately it does not really matter.

    You know it's a great paper when your conclusion is that your argument is completely irrelevant.

    And it is, too. Why does it matter whether hacking is classified as art or science? What effect would it have on the way hacking is perceived? Who cares?

    Now, if you just wanted to talk about computer science (in terms of applied math, not engineering), I think the art/science question is better suited. Of all the schools in the world that teach CS, how many locate their CS department in the school of engineering, and how many in the school of letters and sciences? Why? Does the context of the CS program affect the quality of its graduates?
  • Neither... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frogg ( 27033 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:58PM (#13687530)
    I believe hacking is neither an art nor a science, I think it's a craft -- comprised of part science and part art.
  • I do not believe hacking is an Art. I beleive it is a mental exercise. Why is the term art is given to easily to everything today that is even remotely intresting to someone.
  • "Hacking" (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nerdposeur ( 910128 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:58PM (#13687537) Journal
    Hmmm... Well, on the one hand, it takes precise timing and an intuitive understanding of physics to keep the sack in the air. On the other hand, if you do it right, it looks a lot like a dance. :)
  • None of the above (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @02:59PM (#13687545)

    It's engineering plain and simple. To dress it up as anything else undermines the skill that is envolved in creating good code. The dictionary ( defines engineering as

    The application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.

    if that doesn't define writing code I don't know what does. There is nothing wrong with being an engineer.

  • The most experience I have with "hacking" would be to patch Japanese games so that they start displaying English instead. While the majority of the expertise needed and used is more of a science, like knowing how the underlying operating system/hardware works or how images and placed on the screen, the extra step required for a good, elegant hack is something that's more like an art. You really have to start getting creative when you need to figure out how to modify the code given serious size constraint

  • Cooking is art, baking is science.
    Both use algorithms, cooking's are malleable, baking's are not.
    Many things in programming are both: if the results aren't correct, it's not science; if the code is ugly, it's not art.
  • First most of the processes that people call "science" (in the art v. science dichotomy) are really engineering -- in the sense that they are applying existing knowledge to achieve some stated outcome (engineering) rather than discovering/creating totally new knowledge through a process of hypothesis and experiment (science).

    Second, I see a difference between engineering and hacking in terms of knowability of the outcome. If you can design a product or solve a problem from start to finish, without much o

  • I'd like to see the term 'tinker' come back into vogue.
    I believe it more accurately describes the everyday routine of IT.

    Also, that would lift the expression 'Not worth a tinker's dam' back out of obscurity.

    I had tinkers for ancestors...

    We used to fix everything whether it was broken or not!
  • Why is the question always put out as "Is art or is it science?" I don't know of anything that isn't both these days. I've done lighting design work for dance theater, which drew upon a lot of creativity and interaction with the choreographer to get the right kind of look. I also drew upon simple facts of science, like the notion that using purple is a terrible idea (comprised of only the light from opposing ends of the spectrum, apparently purple lighting makes it very hard for dancers to accurately fo
  • by Hosiah ( 849792 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:13PM (#13687666)
    It's a sciart !

    PS Thanks to the complete Circus Clown's Fire Drill that has been the attempt to re-re-re-define the word "hacker" from the last quarter of the 20th century into this one, there is officially no such thing as hacking. The number of mis-percieved mis-definitions of the word surpassed the total human population about 1996 (yes, I wrote it down) and thus freed of the confines of mere space-time continuum, has increased exponentially ever since, which explains why each person can define the word five different ways and have *none* of them agree with anybody else's five different definitions.

    This is where black holes come from. I nominate that, along with words like "Tao" and "mu", we puny mortals simply abandon the word back to the Ancient Ones from whence it came, admit that our shriveled husks of cortexes are incapable of fathoming such a deep concept, and hereafter relegate the word to the ranks of words which, if named, are not their true selves.

    Which will spare us the upcoming inconclusive debate, now looming over this thread, over what hacking is for the 998.8E+999 time. Because I can't sit through another one. And to ensure I don't, I'm...I'm...I'm HOLDING THE EASTER BUNNY HOSTAGE! Yes! Drop the flamegun, or the lepus gets it right between the oculi!!! And there'll be no more Cadbury chocolate eggs for any of you!

  • Hacking is the artistic application of science. Elegance is the demonstration that art and science are simply two sides of the same coin.
  • Snooze (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ponds ( 728911 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:16PM (#13687689)
    This essay was much better when Paul Graham wrote it two years ago and called it "Hackers and Painters"
  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @03:21PM (#13687733) Homepage Journal
    I read the author's treatise but was rather shocked at the company swag. Who in their right mind would take security advice from a company who advertises thongs, vodka, and cocaine as symbols worth publicising?

    That is not the company image that would win me points with my boss.

    Boss: "That is a rather inappropriate coffee cup [] you have there. Please don't bring it to work."
    Me: "But our network security company gave it to me!"
    Boss: "You're fired."

    I guess I'm just showing my age.

    And yes, my boss does talk in HTML.
  • Oh gawd I am tired of this old cliche. Not every complex technique is either an art or a science. Hacking is software engineering, at best. If you have to ask if it is an art or a science, it isn't an art or a science.
  • Isn't that a hack of the memes that define the social contract?
  • It's both!!

    Duped my own fucking post. because I type 'of' when I shoulda typed 'or'.
  • In theory it's a science, like programming, but like programming it has artful areas.

    To be honest teaching someone how to "hack" is impossible, it's a thought process, and as such some people just will not be any good at it, but overall it should be considered a selective science. The same as programming, or others.

    I don't know if many of you ever looked at a class of college students (I watched those around me in college) Some people just was NEVER going to pass the first C++ course, because they didn't h
  • ... is indistinguishable from art.
  • So in your opinion, is hacking art or science?

    That depends on how you define the words. The way I define them it's neither.

    Art: Creation of compositions that, as a significant intentional goal, have an emotional impact on a huma observer/participant/user/occupier which is significantly greater than that expected from mere communication, representation, or functional usage.

    Science: Progressive refinement of understanding of some aspect of the objective universe, accomplished by devising theories that expl
  • When done properly, (IMHO) programming (and in general all forms of Hacking) is a Craft. And like all crafts, there is an important scientific component to it (just as the science of metalurgy is important to blacksmithing), but scientific knowledge only gets you so far. For example, you probably wouldn't want someone fresh out of college with a degree in metalurgy having a go at the forge right away. All crafts require a certain "feel" for the work, an intuition for knowing what works and what doesn't, and
  • Science is an art...

    and art is a science.

  • When we hash out arcane and irrelevent semantic distinctions, are we practicing an art or a science?

      Well, it's a science because it's obsessed with extremely fine details.

      On the other hand, you could consider it an art because it expresses, in an indirect way, our contempt for all the remotely relevant things we could be talking about.

      Tough one.

      How about sarcasm? Art or science?
  • Yet another debate about whether something is art or science.

    What possible value can knowing the answer have? Just another lifetime acedemic inventing something arbitrary to talk about instead of doing something useful.

    There are a million questions to be explored that might actually provide some value to the world. Art or Science is NOT one of them. If I declared today that Chemestry was and art it wouldn't change anything. Nobody would benefit from knowing it is an art. Why don't you instead anal
  • Light - Particles or Waves?

    Which Came First - Chicken or Egg?

    Nuclear Chain Reactions - Good or Bad?

    Religion - Boon or Bane?

    Discussing any of the above would be just as useless and pointless, yet somehow probably would be more interesting.
  • Hacking is programming, which is computer science, which isn't science at all, but rather engineering. So the question is:

    Is engineering science?

    As an engineer who hacks, no. However, I remain scientifically literate.

    Since the scientifically literate form a small minority, perhaps I could get special deals as an oppressed minority. The handicapped got parking spaces, and what did they do to get that?


    The answer is clearly 42.
  • Philosophy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BorgCopyeditor ( 590345 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @04:07PM (#13688164)
    Y'all should read Book 6 of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics--some good thoughts there about different kinds of intelligence and skill.
  • Perhaps this is just a personal gripe, but I think it is an artificial division. From my point of view, art and science are closely intertwined -- at worst, a continuum, at best two perpendicular elements defining a plane where some idea or item can be placed.

    One group I 'played' with (The SCA) defined an science as anything that could cause damage, and an art to be any other craft or the like... But really that is also an artificial division.

    Until this century, artists, natural philosophers, theologists,
  • Do computer scientists wander about with white lab coats writing on chalk boards postulating theroies of how computers work and work on theroms*. Hardly, they are more craftspeople or artists who activly work with thier medium (electronic ether, as it has no real substance) and create works that are inherently an iterpretation of thier knowledge, skills and personal style.

    *With the exceptioon of Dr. Knuth and a few others who do theroize, postulate, etc.

  • In my personal opinion, both. Hacking is both creating and destroying; so is Science... so is art. Hacking is about creativity, but also about education and the ability to teach and to learn.
  • It can be both...

    Hacking is art if it has an aesthetic value. Something a person would look at and feel emotions, pleasure, or disgust but as an observatory role (rather than someone seeing all their hard work destroyed and being upset about that fact).

    Hacking is a science if it has a proven methology that can be recreated through a certain process.
  • So, I assume you dont mean "coding" with hacking, even as our days hackers are most of teh time coders (doing some hardware also, ofc).

    But, lets consider first:
    Was Michel Angelo an Artist or a Scientist?
    Strange question? So who painted the Chapell? Michel Angelo? No. His team did. You can even doubt if he did one single stroke with the brush himslef. Likely he did, but its even likely he did not.

    So, still we consider him an Artist. But what does it take to be one? First of all he has to master all the craft

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.