This morning I gave the opening address at the annual conference of ALIA Queensland. The theme this year was “Library Hacks”.
Hacking’s such a funny term, still threatening and techy and futuristic, and yet also so familiar; the stuff of cheesy mid-90s techno-thrillers as much as today’s headlines about Wikileaks and massive DNS attacks.
The New Yorker tells us that the word originates in the house slang of MIT, way back in the 1950s:
The minutes of an April, 1955, meeting of the Tech Model Railroad Club state that “Mr. Eccles requests that anyone working or hacking on the electrical system turn the power off to avoid fuse blowing.”
Taking “hack” to mean tinkering with machines and procedures, not following the manual, I wanted to both hack the keynote and offer attendees an opportunity that wouldn’t exist at M.I.T.
So, we gave them craft materials, tinfoil and paperclips, food decorating kits, a basic electronics set…
…and Kinder Surprise Eggs.