A distinctive style of shared
intellectual humor found among hackers, having the following marked
1. Fascination with form-vs.-content jokes, paradoxes, and humor
having to do with confusion of metalevels (see meta). One way
to make a hacker laugh: hold a red index card in front of him/her
with "GREEN" written on it, or vice-versa (note, however, that
this is funny only the first time).
2. Elaborate deadpan parodies of large intellectual constructs,
such as specifications (see write-only memory), standards
documents, language descriptions (see INTERCAL), and even
entire scientific theories (see quantum bogodynamics,
3. Jokes that involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre,
ludicrous, or just grossly counter-intuitive premises.
4. Fascination with puns and wordplay.
5. A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive
currents of intelligence in it -- for example, old Warner Brothers
and Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons, the Marx brothers, the early
B-52s, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. Humor that combines this
trait with elements of high camp and slapstick is especially
6. References to the symbol-object antinomies and associated ideas
in Zen Buddhism and (less often) Taoism. See has the X nature,
koan, AI koans.
See also filk, retrocomputing, and the Portrait of J.
Random Hacker in Appendix B. If you have an itchy feeling
that all six of these traits are really aspects of one thing that
is incredibly difficult to talk about exactly, you are (a) correct
and (b) responding like a hacker. These traits are also
recognizable (though in a less marked form) throughout