Hacking is still a loaded concept for many, often conjuring negative images of corporate espionage, fraudsters and prank-minded script kiddies. PBS’ Off Book wants to remind us that hacking wasn’t always seen this way — and, thanks to modern developments, is mending its reputation. Its latest episode shows that hacking began simply as a desire to advance devices and software beyond their original roles, but was co-opted by a sometimes misunderstanding press that associated the word only with malicious intrusions. Today, hacking has regained more of its original meaning: hackathons, a resurgence of DIY culture and digital protests prove that hacks can improve our gadgets, our security and even our political landscape. We still have a long way to go before we completely escape movie stereotypes, but the mini-documentary may offer food for thought the next time you’re installing a custom ROM or building your own VR helmet.
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