At CultureCon in Philadelphia I had the opportunity to interview Eric Raymond about hacker and open-source culture.  Eric is a spokesperson for a rather amorphous community and is well-known for books such as The Cathedral and the Bazaar and more recently The New Hackers Dictionary.

Eric sees a union of hacker and open-source culture so that these have become essentially the same thing. I’ll just call it hacker culture…

Eric shared that hacker culture is ancestral to Agile as the manifesto was there in folk practices but not explicit. Eric was invited to the Snowbird conference where Agile was defined but missed it.

The most important point that Eric wanted to share is that hacker culture is expressed through language, jokes and common stories about history. For more reading on hacker culture, please see Eric Raymond’s FAQ on hacker culture and history.

The interview question is based on the KrisMap workshop and is brilliantly simple:

If you expressed the culture of a typical hacker organization as a person, what would she be like?

Hacker Persona is playful, purposeful and self-managed

Eric described the following attributes for the hacker persona:

  • Intense focussed playfulness (Neoteny)
  • Distrust of Authority
  • Self-managed
  • Rage against the machine
  • Sense of mission/purpose
  • Introverted
  • Shadow autist/Asperger’s syndrome
  • Hates being lied to


I can see from Eric’s persona how this would sew the seeds of Agile culture. The part of Agile culture that would be a stretch would be introversion and Asperger’s which are not well supported in the team environment that Agile promotes.


I would like to thank Eric for taking the time to share his thoughts and Olaf Lewitz for the wonderful photo.