19 thoughts on “Zuckerberg: The Hacker Way”

  1. Let’s see if FB continues to “move fast” and make mistakes after it becomes a public company. The handing guillotine of wall street might very well have the final say, when security and privacy breaches will actually affect the bottom line. It is no longer going to be about engineering or reputation anymore…but about stock price.

    That said, I do hope MarkZ actually show wall street the hack way…that in my opinion will be FB’s biggest contribution to society.

  2. I’ve been focusing on “The Webinar Way” which is a refined form of The Hacker Way. The five core values are parallel:

    Focus on Impact: The best way to have the biggest impact is to focus on solving the most important problems.

    Move Fast, Be Bold, Be Open, and

    Build [Social] Value where social is relationships because… The Real Currency is “Relationship Riches.”

    Sherrie Rose
    The Liking Authority

    1. Indeed. I don’t think we should. But it was worthwhile pointing out this letter for it is something others can apply to their businesses/approach to developing things.

  3. The “Hacker Way” is laudable and indeed inspiring for a business like Facebook. But there’s another side to the term that’s not represented here. The idea that any program can be coded quickly, hacker-style, and fixed in later iterations often doesn’t (and shouldn’t) apply.

    Reliability and uptime may be less critical critical for free web-based services like Facebook, but many enterprises (e.g., airlines, banks) and organizations (e.g., hospitals, governments) rely on functioning software, and need assurance that it will work. Always. And as expected.

    So the “other” definition of hacker isn’t the movie-version of someone who commits digital crimes. Rather, it’s someone who “hacks” together code without sufficient thought about the effect that code will have on other parts of the system. That code usually requires a programmer to step in, undo the damage, and figure out a better, more holistic solution.

    At a large software company I once worked for, the question was always asked after an interview: “Is he/she a hacker or a programmer?”. We didn’t hire hackers.

    Fast, bold, and open are all great traits. Merit-based systems are great. Stimulating creativity and innovation is clearly a positive goal. And it’s often true that “the perfect is the enemy of the good (or the complete)”. However “complete but broken” is not always better than “not done yet”.

  4. Nice hype to FB IPO. Would love to see someone building mission critical systems using the hacker way.

  5. I’d love to see a similar manifesto for Facebook’s approach to building IP networks. In the industry, we hear tidbits about FB, Google, and Amazon’s approach to IP network design. Being enlightened on their philosophy would be very interesting.

    I am aware of FB’s Open Compute Project. It is very focused on physical aspects of building data centers. It’s not what I’m itching to read.

  6. I know there is an argument as Chris J mentioned too, that Facebook style is worthy of studying but probably not emulating. However, that is the case for everything. You always have to adapt stuff you hear and learn to your own context as that is unique. Your balance and your culture is what you should drive. Knowing about what worked and made companies successful, is critical to that. Hence, for me, this was a fantastic article to read.

    Although we are not coding, we are trying to create a similar culture at Online Courses Marketplace in WizIQ. These 6 principles are excellent and beautifully written.

  7. I think most of the unique information facebook creates is crap ! FB is just a platform to waste lives knowing, thinking and thinking about other people’s life rather than making your own life better !

  8. Chris J: In my experience, Hackers are less likely to produce “bad” or “non-working” code both because their names are on it and because they are generally inordinately proud of their work. See hubris, in reference to Larry Wall’s “Laziness, impatience, and hubris”.

  9. @Christopher Mahan: absolutely fair point. And perhaps I’m just mired in the semantics of the term “hacker” (vs. “Hacker”). I agree with Om and others that the principles represented here are indeed laudable (as I already stated) and can be applied generously across a number of disciplines.

    Those who are inordinately proud of their work and therefore unlikely to produce bad code because their names are on that code I consider to be “developers”. Or “programmers”. Or a variety of other professional-sounding things.

    In my experience, there are plenty of little “h” hackers who bang out something quick, either out of laziness, or pressure, or simply lack of skill. I found these more frequently at larger organizations than at smaller startups. And we tried hard to avoid them.

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