The term “Hacker” has been somewhat abused by the media, such that many may now view it as a derogatory term. It has often been used by media to describe criminals who infect systems and breach networks.
Hacker. Noun. “A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.” – The Jargon File
The Hacker Ethic originates from the early days of the computer revolution. To call someone a “Hacker” is viewed as a compliment. The Hacker Ethic centers around the principle that information should be free [as in speech], and that people should have the freedom to repurpose everyday devices in new and unexpected ways.
Hacks are novel creations or solutions to problems and the purpose of a Hackathon is to create them. Hacks are not always elegant, and may sometimes be little more than prototypes, but they can be transformative and expose new ways of solving problems or analyzing data.
The word “Hackathon” comes from combining the words ‘Hack’ and ‘Marathon’, and implies a long sprint to create something useful in a single event.