Hackers have garnered a pretty bad reputation today. With internet hacking at an all-time high, the actual meaning of hacking has changed. No longer does it stand for tinkering about with electronic components in a piece of consumer kit that you legitimately purchased; now it means something far different.
However the difference between software and hardware hackers, or modders, is great. While some might like to play around with code and complex computing mathematics, others like to get their components out in order to improve something.
This kind of hacking isn’t against the law, as long as the device is not sold on for commercial profit/using other people’s patents and technologies. Furthermore, this kind of hacking shouldn’t necessarily be frowned upon. Most hackers are computing or electronics enthusiasts who are pushing themselves to solve a problem, or create something that’s never been done before.
Hacking is a practice that has been carried out for decades, if not a centuries. This is true if you include inventor extraordinaries such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell – all of whom modified others’ work.
If you further question what motivates hackers, then there a few – very practical – archetypes. One is someone who wishes merely to customise a device for their own needs. Just like you could apply your own ring tone or case to a phone, these people just want to create something personal.
Others might mod or hack to add extra functionality to a device. This is the equivalent of running a Windows operating system on a Linux PC, or exchanging a CD ROM drive for a DVD one.
Increasing performance and capacity is another common hack in which parallels can be draw with personal computing; overclocking a processor so that it performs beyond its default specification, or adding more memory to a computing device, for example.
Then yes, there are those who hack to circumvent electronic protection or digital security measures. While this is the most frowned upon act by any major electronics manufacturer, you could argue that many of us have done this before; such as when you unlock your phone to change operator, or when you used to cover up cassette-based protections to re-record new data.
When considering all of this, you might just find that hackers and modders aren’t a group to be scared of at all. In fact, you might even end up admiring them.