Life Hacking

Joseph Reagle

Life Hacking: The Quest for an Optimized Life

Joseph Reagle, Northeastern University 

Joseph Reagle, NEU, Ambivalence Studies

Life hacking

“I am a life hacker”

Hacker Stock Photo

To an ordinary person, this might seem like a confession of lifelong criminality.

Yes, hackers often have a technical affinity.

And they do like to understand and explore systems.

Santiago, Chile, Sept-2013

But for most, a hack means a clever improvement or fix.


life hacking is a colonizing discourse. (Thomas (2015), p. 22)

  • mind hacks
  • bio hacks
  • food hacks
  • productivity hacks
  • learning hacks
    • ProfHacker
    • GradHacker
    • HackCollege

I’m geeky/hackerish

  • I like to explore and learn
  • I think systematically
  • I believe things can be improved

Two Questions about Lifehacking

Q1. How far is too far?


Useful or creepy?


The 15 minute female orgasm is a technique described in The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman by Timothy Ferriss. Below is the visual summary of that technique.—SarOverSky

Q2. How to do it?

My own mindmap


  • what do you think of “hacks”?
  • are there other areas or scholars I should explore?
  • how far is too far?
  • can I map people to a time?


Macaca nigra self-portrait (rotated and cropped)


Media are linked to their sources in slides, except for the following:


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