# Hacking Life

## Hacking Life: The Quest for an Optimized Life

Joseph Reagle, Northeastern University

# Life hacking

## “I am a life hacker”

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.

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

## Defined

Life hacking is the application of geeky, hackish ways of thinking: enthusiastic and systematic

a sort of clever shortcut, or way to get something done, or systematic way to get something done in your life, whether that’s on your computer (it’s often on your computer) or just doing your laundry or folding your socks (TrapaniDaoud 2010).

## Colonization

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

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

## I’m geeky/hackerish

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

# Q1. Is it cognitive?

## Cognitive style

cognitive style
a stable personal attribute seen in patterns of thinking (e.g., mental models) and behavior (e.g. making decisions)

## Styles

systematic
tend to look for patterns and apply rule-based thinking
intuitive
tend towards a larger, holistic view and rely upon the integration of intuition, feelings, and context

## Sudoku

Systematic thinkers improved at playing the game Sudoku because they “used past experience to discover rules, which they then applied to enhance their performance in subsequent tasks” (SagivEtal 2013, p. 414).

(Experience had no effect on intuitive performance, nor was style alone significant.)

### Rational-Experiential Inventory (REI-10, short)

1. I prefer to do something that challenges my thinking abilities rather than something that requires little thought.
2. I prefer complex to simple problems.
3. Thinking hard and for a long time about something gives me little satisfaction.
4. I believe in trusting my hunches.
5. My initial impressions of people are almost always right.
6. I can usually feel when a person is right or wrong even if I can’t explain how I know. (EpsteinEtal 1996)

## Cogn. Reflection Test

1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs$1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
1. 1.05 + .05 = 1.10
2. 5 minutes
3. 47th day

## Correlations

A sample of new computer-systems students showed “higher than average tendencies towards analytical cognitive styles”: 43.34 (CS) > 41.64 (other) (MooreOMaidinMcelligott2002csc, p. 54).

A sample of ShmooCon 2008 hackers preferred rational thinking styles over intuitive approaches, complex problems over simple ones, and demonstrated “high confidence in their ability to reach optimal decisions through a rational deliberation process” (Bachmann 2010, p. 652).

In a 1993 Wired article, Steve Silberman characterized autism as the “geek syndrome” (Silberman 1993).

# Q2. How far is too far?

## PUA Lingo

Field reports will often read, “got to HB8 blond school girl to go back to my place” as an indication of the level of her physical beauty. (Lin 2010)

# Okay!

## Media credits

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