India Has Got Talent [and Hackers]

One thing that makes Silicon Valley unique is the hacker culture predominant over there. By hacking culture, I mean the ability (and freedom) to build something really interesting (need not be innovative) breaking the boundary of one’s education and pedigree.

After all, why would a professional football player go full-time into developing WordPress theme? If you look at WordPress itself, you will notice that even few *geeky* lawyers have written quite a few plugins/develop themes. What happened to their ‘constraint’ of being bound by education degrees (or professional experience).

To me, hacking is the first seed of entrepreneurship – most of your hacks won’t go anywhere. You hack, you fail, you hack again and this time you market your hack, you might fail but the acceptance of “failure is part of the game” DNA getsinjected in your blood. And obviously, you need this attitude when you are a full-blown entrepreneur.

These are Hackers who aren’t so *controlled* by their education degree, age and work experience and as Wikipedia loosely defines the word ‘hacking’

Hacking refers to the re-configuring or re-programming of a system to function in ways not facilitated by the owner, administrator, or designer. The term(s) have several related meanings in the technology and computer science fields, wherein a “hack” may refer to a clever or quick fix to a computer program problem, or to what may be perceived to be a clumsy or inelegant (but usually relatively quick) solution to a problem, such as a “kludge”.

Though the definition isn’t an updated one (hackers build more than a fix), hacking entails a lot more – hacking is also one’s ability to use waste materials to create musical instruments! Yesterday, I was amazed to see this mindblowing performance by few guys in the ‘India has got talent – Part 2’ show (watch the video embedded).

Who are these guys? They are hackers! They probably struggled to find money to buy instruments, but the love of music inspired them to ‘hack’ – hack waster materials to create musical instruments.
Similarly, few days back I was invited for the launch of, a Chandigarh based organization focused on building an incubator for entrepreneurs; the three day event had a couple of interesting hackers. A class 9 dude (@kingsidharth) who loves to hack. When you were in Class 9, you probably were busy thinking of Board exams and life after it (IITs?), but if somebody is talking ‘semantic web’ in class 9th, it surely spells interesting.

Recently, I met a couple of other interesting folks– a IIT 3rd year student who is developing a ‘hack’ on local language keyboards and is now in talks with one of the OEM for a prototype.

The question that keeps coming back is how do we bring some of these young hackers to give them a better exposure? There are organizations like NEN who are doing their job, but largely, a platform play for these young hackers is missing.

How can one bring the guys in the above video to get more creative and *invent* new low-cost musical instruments? Maybe get hackers to invent something better than the $35 laptop?
What is it that Pi can do with some of these hackers? I need suggestions/recommendations.

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