Portrait of J. Random Hacker

When I was younger, I was rather skeptical of personality profiles. None of them ever fit me. Then I ran across the Myer-Briggs approach and discovered that the INTJ profile does a fair job. Now I’ve found a second profile that does a fair job of drawing a picture of my personality: the Portrait of J. Random Hacker. Some quotes that were remarkably accurate of me:

  • Dress: “Casual, vaguely post-hippie; T-shirts, jeans, running shoes, Birkenstocks (or bare feet). Long hair, beards, and moustaches are common”
  • Reading habits: “Omnivorous…Hackers often have a reading range that astonishes liberal arts people but tend not to talk about it as much.”
  • Food: “Ethnic. Spicy. Oriental, esp. Chinese and most esp. Szechuan, Hunan, and Mandarin (hackers consider Cantonese vaguely d’eclass’e). Hackers prefer the exotic”
  • Ethnicity: “Racial and ethnic prejudice is notably uncommon and tends to be met with freezing contempt. “
  • Other interests: “Other interests that seem to correlate less strongly but positively with hackerdom include linguistics”
  • Communication style: “Though hackers often have poor person-to-person communication skills, they are as a rule quite sensitive to nuances of language and very precise in their use of it. They are often better at writing than at speaking.”
  • Physical activity and sports: “Many (perhaps even most) hackers don’t follow or do sports at all and are determinedly anti-physical. Among those who do, interest in spectator sports is low to non-existent; sports are something one *does*, not something one watches on TV. ” [I have often said that I’m a bad spectator and a worse fan. If I can’t play, forget it.]
  • Things hackers detest and avoid: “Bureaucracies. Stupid people. Easy listening music. Television (except for cartoons, movies, and “Star Trek” classic). Business suits. Dishonesty. Incompetence. Boredom. COBOL. BASIC. Character-based menu interfaces.”
  • Weaknesses: Hackers tend to have “impatience with people and tasks perceived to be wasting their time…minor maintenance tasks get deferred indefinitely.”
  • Personality Characteristics: “In terms of Myers-Briggs and equivalent psychometric systems, hackerdom appears to concentrate the relatively rare INTJ and INTP types.”
  • Miscellaneous: “Many drive incredibly decrepit heaps and forget to wash them; richer ones drive spiffy Porsches and RX-7s and then forget to have them washed.”

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