[linux-elitists] Hacker ethic, brogrammer ethic

Don Marti dmarti at zgp.org
Sun Jul 6 07:31:39 PDT 2014

First of all, I have to point out that the people
who originally came up with the "brogramming"
concept considered it just a goof and deleted it.

But perhaps brogramming really is a thing, and it's
becoming distinct from "hacking" in a way that other
subcultures did not.  It's probably hard to recognize
from the outside (hackers and brogrammers are all
incomprehensible elitists) or from far enough inside
(where most or all of the tech people you interact
with are bros.)  How is the "brogrammer ethic"
splitting off from the "hacker ethic"?

One of the early criticisms [citation needed] of
the book _The Circle_ by Dave Eggers was that in
the fictional Big Internet Company, an employee is
pressured to violate her own privacy, and in the real
world that doesn't happen.  There's an us and a them.
Kate Losse put it in terms of the "Man" and the
...or you could just say "bros before hos".  There's
an in-group and an out-group.  (Yes, I realize I'm
posting this on a list called "linux-elitists".  But
someone who is a member of the Elite here might have
low reputation elsewhere, and vice versa.  And the
kinds of privilege that give you the opportunity to
get on the branching ladder to various kinds of hacker
status tend to overlap a lot with the advantages that
open up the possibility of becoming a brogrammer.)

class BrogrammerEthic extends HackerEthic -- apply the
Bro Code if possible, fall back to hacker principles
where the Bro Code is silent (like US law referring
to English common law).

So how does "extend and subvert technology" turn into
"go fast and break people"?

Hacking: copyleft or neutral licensing (promote generic
ubiquitous code as a complement to valuable people)

Brogramming: aggressive ToS/CLAs (contributors are a
generic out-group; value is in control of the hub of
the network)

Hacking: subvert the dominant paradigm by building
common space outside it.

Brogramming: subvert the dominant paradigm by
monetizing existing common space.

Bonus link: danah boyd

Don Marti                    
dmarti at zgp.org
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