How To Become A Culture Hacker (Ignite 2010)

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I challenged myself to pack a high-level view of everything I've learned so far about how our actions make culture evolve into the Ignite constrained 5-minute format.

Let's just say there was a lot of meat to remove, but I think I've kept the essence intact, and I'm pretty sure the culture hackers in the room recognized themselves.

Click the Notes tab to read them.

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  • Tonight I’m going to talk about hacking. Although these days a lot of hackers deal in code, hacking is not an activity that is restricted to software. It’s something you can actually do with pretty much anything.
  • ... Including culture. In 15 seconds: Culture is a pattern. It’s a shared pattern among a group of people. It’s a set of habits of the mind that defines the lens through which we view things and that scripts our interactions with one another.
  • For an organization, culture is social infrastructure. Think about corporate culture. Culture drives workflows, lines of influence, who pays attention to whom, decision-making. ((It pretty much defines the overall behavior of the organization.)) When newbies come into an organization, they’re easy to spot because they don’t have the pattern ingrained in them.
  • When you think about it, culture is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, when you go to work, or when you turn on your television.
  • What happens when culture hackers do great work is that they make us see things in a different light.
  • Do you know someone like that? Someone who does what they do, not for money or glory or love or God or their country, but simply because it’s who they are and you can’t imagine them being any other way? 
  • Culture is invisible. It usually goes unnoticed. How do you go about hacking something that is invisible?
  • The tools and processes of culture hackers are actually pretty similar to those of hackers at large. I’ve identified a number of them. Let me talk about each briefly.
  • Do not think. Quiet your mind and let it in.
  • Every system has a weakness. You know it. You can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it for a long time, that there's something wrong with it. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. This feeling guides you towards the crack, which is actually where the light gets in. If you’re part of the culture, the pattern is already in your own mind. I’ve found it’s best at this point to stop looking at the system, and simply try and find the crack in your mind.
  • This is the scary part. You do something nobody has done before. Often there is fear just before you go at it. But very often it will turn out to feel like you’re crashing into an open door. The resistance you meet is nothing like the resistance you were anticipating.
  • Another thing you’ll want to do is to find other people who have found the crack. But this is not something people have written on their foreheads. Look for people who are unpredictable, people with a sense of humor. You want to avoid the soulless drones and the happy replicators.
  • Catalysis is where it gets fun. Do something with the others. Organize get-togethers, parties, something informal. Just find a way to put like-minded people together in a space of freedom. Make it gel.
  • Put a name on whatever it is that you’re bringing into existence. Craft symbols. Use visual language. Sonic language. Body language. Maybe just words. Come up with representations of your new creation.
  • At this point you have a piece of cultural DNA. If it has life in it, the new piece of cultural DNA then replicates itself throughout the cultural environment. New institutions will emerge around it. As a hacker you don’t actually need to be involved in this part if you don’t care to. It will happen anyway.
  • This is a very important part. You will be growing more comfortable and be tempted to stick around. As soon as you start feeling comfortable, that means it’s time to let go and move on.
  • Then it starts again. You may actually begin trying to undermine the very thing you created previously.
  • You must find people who are already doing what you are only contemplating. People who will make you uncomfortable and make you feel humbled. People who recognize bullshit and mediocrity when they see it and act accordingly. Look far and wide. Get out of your bubble. Daniel Boucher wrote: « Je cherche des désiseux / Des semeux, des gros laboureux, des déjoueurs de menteries, des aideurs de mal pris. Ma gang de malades, vous êtes donc où? »
  • Preneuriat durabiliste is looking for these kinds of superhero-hackers-on-fire. There are probably a few in this room. There are certainly lots more outside. Let’s find them.
  • Enjoy the silence
  • How To Become A Culture Hacker (Ignite 2010)

    1. 1. HOW TO BECOME A CULTURE HACKER Seb Paquet web: openresearch.sebpaquet.net twitter: @sebpaquet
    2. 2. THESE DAYS PEOPLE HACK ELECTRONICS SOFTWARE HOMES BODIES DNA
    3. 3. SOME PEOPLE HACK CULTURE
    4. 4. CULTURE IS THE OPERATING SYSTEM OF THE ORGANIZATION.
    5. 5. CULTURE IS THE OPERATING SYSTEM OF SOCIETY.
    6. 6. GREAT CULTURE HACKS CHANGE HABITS
    7. 7. WHY HACK CULTURE? “HACKERS WILL HACK BECAUSE THEY CAN’T NOT HACK.” * PARAPHRASING MARK PILGRIM
    8. 8. IT’S TRICKY.
    9. 9. CULTURE HACKERS USE HACKER CULTURE.
    10. 10. I. OBSERVE.
    11. 11. II. FIND THE CRACK.
    12. 12. III. MAKE ART. OPENLY.
    13. 13. IV. FIND THE OTHERS. (MAKE NO COMPROMISE.)
    14. 14. V. CATALYZE.
    15. 15. VI. EXPLOIT LANGUAGE.
    16. 16. VII. INSTITUTIONALIZE.
    17. 17. VIII. LET GO.
    18. 18. IX. GO BACK TO I.
    19. 19. ALL ALONG, KEEP SEARCHING FOR PEOPLE YOU CAN LOOK UP TO.

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