Steven Levy, author of Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, gave a list of the core tenets of the hacker ethic. I'm going to give you a list of a generalized form:
- Access to x—and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works—should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!
- All information about x should be free
- Mistrust authority on x — promote decentralization
- X hackers should be judged by their x hacking, not criteria such as degrees, age, race, sex, or position
- You can create art and beauty with x
- X can change your life for the better
X, of course, is the art/craft/science in question. Let's look at a more concrete example using Japanese hacking.
Access to the Japanese language should be unlimited and total. Well, thanks to the internet and a few useful services, that's basically true. I can visit any Japanese website I wish. I can order books and movies from Amazon.co.jp. I can Skype with people from Japan. And don't forget that you can change Wikipedia's language to Japanese.
All information about the Japanese language should be free. Ok, this one is a bit tougher. Thankfully, there are free online dictionaries for just about any language you could be interested in, as well as grammar tutorials. There are also websites about language learning for nearly any language. My two favorites for Japanese are AJATT and Japanese Level Up.
Mistrust authority on the Japanese language. I take this to mean college classes. While classrooms may work for some people, they are extremely inefficient. Research has shown that they may be one of the worst ways to learn, but I'll talk about that some other time. I also don't take those two websites I mentioned at face value. While their methods may have worked for them, that doesn't not mean that they will work for me.
A Japanese language hacker should be judged by their Japanese language hacking. I could earn a degree in Japanese studies (yes, they do exist), but that does not mean I'm an expert or have any type of authority on the subject. Being male doesn't give me any more ability or knowledge, nor would being female. Even being a high level manager in a Japanese company doesn't mean anything other than being a high level manager in a Japanese company.
You can create art and beauty with the Japanese language. Personally, I think that's kind of obvious. Ever hear of haiku? That's from Japan and was originally done in the Japanese language. Even Japanese rock and pop can draw you in.
The Japanese language can change your life for the better. I think that hacking in anything can teach you a lot about life in general and give you skills in other aspects of your life. After all, I could become fluent in Japanese and still never do anything with it. Is it them wasted? I don't think so. I would have proven to myself that I can learn and use something as complex as a language other than my native one.
Are you a hacker? If so, what kind? A language hacker? A poetry hacker? An astronomy hacker? A home decoration hacker? A blog hacker? Maybe a farm hacker? There's nothing wrong with any of those.