Aug 2, 2007
Where the Sun Shines, There Hack They
Posted in: Life & Culture
MIT is known for many things, including its legendary hacks. Long a part of MIT folklore, hacks
can tell much about MIT's culture and subculture—providing a deeper understanding about
intelligence, strategic design, humor and general outlaw behavior—and serve as another
indication of the interdisciplinary nature of MIT.
In 2005 MIT Professor Emeritus Samuel Jay Keyser gave a talk on the history of hacks.
In Where the Sun Shines, There Hack They, he tells stories from his days as associate provost for student life, brings gadgets and other hack artifacts and gives some very deep background on legendary and notorious hacks, with passion, humor and a high regard for hackers and hacking. He explains that hacks are not silly pranks, but complex and intelligent statements, filled with irony, wit, and meaning that ultimately "do no harm". He also deconstructs the psychological nature of hacking, and gets to the inner zen of hacking and what it really reflects about MIT. If you're looking for an unusual but relevant introduction to MIT, I highly recommend this video on MIT World.
Keyser is also the author of a brilliant essay in Nightwork, a 2003 book on hacking published by The MIT Press. Little is known about its author, Institute Historian T.F. Peterson, but readers are encouraged to pay very close attention to the notion that perhaps the book in itself represents a new kind of hack.