7 Tech Archetypes That Define You as a Hacker

April 12, 2017

4:30 pm

While the term “hacker” elicits more than its fair share of negativity, this tech profession is a necessary part of the business world. After all, in the immortal words of Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, “If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.” Simply put, having hackers on your side will protect you from the hackers on the opposing side.

Hacker, however, is a quite a broad term, encompassing a wide range of duties and functions in an online business. Fortunately, Eric Raymond, cofounder and former president of the Open Source Initiative, has taken it upon himself, with the help of dear friend Susan Sons, to categorize hackers into seven archetypes. Familiarize yourself with these categories before deciding on who to hire at your company:


In so many words, this person should not be put in charge. Despite their inclination towards notable cleverness and their high tolerance for complexity, they’re “often solitary with poor social skills… never let them manage anyone!” Let them shine on their own and make sure to keep them away from large, group decisions.


The devil is in the details for these hackers, which makes them skilled at making the crossover between hardware and software. However, like any detail-oriented person, they can easily get too close to the problem and lose sight of the goal at hand. But “when you can get them to pull their heads out of the details (which they may resist pretty hard) they make terrific whole-systems engineers.”


When it comes to the design space, these hackers are clutch. They strive for elegance when it comes to the architecture of a program, and have an innate drive to simplify. They don’t usually have “great social skills, but if they do, they’ll be able to lead your team successfully,” no problem.


Again, these hackers are detail oriented and have “a bottom-up view of code and like rifle-shooting bugs more than almost anything else.” Considered the antithesis of the Architect, they are poor managers but excellent skill players that can provide some serious help when you need it.

Jack of All Trades

Yes, the name is fairly self-explanatory here. These hackers are defined by their “adaptability, fast uptake of new ideas, and mental flexibility.” They’ll try to do everything on their own, because they can. However, like any jack of all trades, they lack honed expertise in any one skill. They’re particularly effective when they understand their shortcomings and are willing to delegate.


If this title concerns you, it shouldn’t. They’re not going to be putting whoopee cushions under anyone’s chairs. “Their natural bent is adversarial – they’re great at thinking up ways to disrupt and subvert systems.” If they’re truly skilled, they’ll be able to engineer more than just tech, bringing out the best in people in unique and productive ways.


Every office needs its control freak, and this hacker is just that. They “get their power from focusing on what they’re responsible for and knowing it inside out.” They memorize, automate, and churn out information like it’s their job, which it often is.

Read more about hackers here on Tech.Co

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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