Hacks make MIT history

"Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT," a spry and affectionate new book on the lighter side of life at the Institute, offers a photographic review of famous hacks -- the police cruiser atop the Great Dome, for example -- and essays by hackers, hackees and a hack-removal expert.

An event to celebrate the publication of "Nightwork" (MIT Press) and the opening of an exhibit on hacking will be held at the MIT Museum on Saturday, June 7 from 2 to 3 p.m. Edmund W. Golaski (S.M. 2001) will speak "On Selected History and Lore of Pranks and Hacks at MIT," and copies of "Nightwork" will be available.

To emphasize the goodwill and community-mindedness of hacking at MIT, "Nightwork" lists "Hacking Ethics" ("Be safe. Be subtle.") and includes two essays on the delights of hacking by practitioners.

True to hacking tradition, the author of "Nightwork" is listed as "Institute Historian T.F. Peterson" (note the initials). Her daytime identity is Kathleen Thurston-Lighty. The "Nightwork" event is jointly sponsored by the MIT Museum, MIT Press and the MIT Alumni Association.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 4, 2003.

Topics: History of MIT, Hacks and humor

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