What does hack mean? A hack is clever fix, such that you have to give props for creativity and resourcefulness. The term originated in 1200, meaning “to cut with heavy blow in an irregular or random fashion,” though it first came to represent skillful work with machinery in the 1950’s. “Hack” finally settled-down with boundary-pushing computer science gurus in the sixties and is now a standard in both techie-lingo and mainstream culture. It can be anything from complicated code that breaks into a high-security system to a simple solution for an everyday inconvenience.
Despite sensationalized Hollywood portrayals, such as in 1995 brain-rot gem Hackers, Die Hard with Vengeance, or the much-acclaimed Matrix series, a hacker at a startup is really just a developer. But, the word does imply an added degree of bad-assery. Hackers aren’t your average computer nerds. These guys write sick code with style, and fix bugs without breaking a sweat. In the same way that a web designer may be dubbed a UX ninja, hackers are programmers with an edge.
The same can be said for growth-hackers. This isn’t sorcery– it is just good marketing. “Growth-hacker” describes a scrappy and clever marketer, often at an early-stage company, who is able to drive numbers using methods that are testable, scalable, and low-cost. It sounds much cooler than “marketing manager,” am I right?
The many uses of the word “hack” don’t end there. “Lifehack” has become a popular buzzword to describe strategies to manage life’s inconveniences in a more efficient way. These make for super-shareable Internet content– the kind of thing you bookmark on Pinterest but probably never actually remember to do in real life.
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