- Alan Dipert against a background projected by the CSI's Hi-Definition Projectors. Photo by Michael Conti
Fourth year information technology student Alan Dipert could be on to something big. As a self proclaimed hacker, Dipert is looking to bring a new connotation to the tired stereotype.
At its worst, hacking is often thought of as a reclusive activity, only recognized when new viruses are created or privacy is threatened. But the creative output of those interested in “guts” of technology is something that is being harnessed for anything productive. In fact, hacking is not limited to software. A growing movement of ordinary people has taken the hacking concept to a new level. Discarded household items can be used in new and exciting ways, as demonstrated by the people at MAKE and instructables. The potential here is that this effort to renew and create with physical objects can be enhanced through the combination of homemade software hacks.
Upon returning to RIT to continue his studies, Dipert formed a group called the Rochester Hackers. The group is looking for anyone who enjoys creative exploration of technology, be it for an artistic purpose, an industrial purpose, or anything in between.
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a “hacker community;” it should be reiterated that this isn’t a collection of pony-tailed wall-flowers stealing your grandma’s retirement funds. The old connotations of a hacker, according to Dipert, couldn’t be further from the truth.
“A hacker is a creative person. A [computer] hacker feels inspired to do something artistic with computers.” It was this discovery that eventually led Dipert to the innovation center, in hopes of finding similarly oriented individuals. Rochester Hackers seek to involve the entire greater Rochester community, especially the RIT student population, in a wide ranging network of technologically creative people. Modeled and inspired from the project Hacker News, which lists projects so as to allow long distance collaboration, the Rochester Hackers will meet physically in the Innovation Center, as well as in their online home at Meetup.
At first, “It seemed like [working with computers] was boring and a very un-human thing to do. A quality I’m trying to bring to this group is an interest in people and connections, not just the technical side."
A personal interest of Dipert is growing his understanding of the business side of marketing programming and software. While he anticipates a host ideas being developed, he wants to have the know-how to market his ideas, and to spread this knowledge to other students. But ultimately, his specialty is software, something that isn't tangible. Design students, illustrators, and engineers are needed, and would find room to try out any idea they have, with the support of some of the best software know-how in the area.
The group will begin meeting with a presentation by Dipert on the programming language Scala at 7:00 in the Innovation center on Thursday, September 10th.
The group is open to anyone, even if they have no prior background in computer programming. All ideas involving unconventional or untested uses of technology are welcome. “If you have an idea, and want to know if it’s workable, then this is a good place for you,” says Dipert.