When you start to have a new culture emerge there is usually a precedent that it follows to become the way that it is. In other words the new culture usually draws in influence from different parts of the society that is already present. The adherents to the new culture pick and choose what they like from the older culture and base their new way of being around that. When you are talking about the hacker culture, you see this same phenomenon emerge. There are many parts of popular culture that hackers take their influence from. One of the main influences of hacker culture has been the popular steam/cyber punk culture.
While most people would not have heard of these two forms of culture, they are very big in the virtual world. You can even see a little bit of the influence with some of the tools that we use to navigate around the web. There will be either weird names or little inside jokes put into these products that only followers of this culture would know.
What is the steam/cyber punk culture?
With a mixture of the future and the past, the steam/cyber punk culture is a mix of two different worlds that are colliding together. When you have the unique styling of the steam punk culture, you are looking at the influence of the past. The look and feel of the technology that was used in the past, mostly powered by steam engines, is being used today as part of a culture and style. It is considered by many hackers to be a symbol of the beginning of the world that we live in now. The people who created these devices at the time had the same spirit as the hackers that we see these days. And so to pay homage or just as respect to people in the past with similar interest, you see a lot of hackers adopt steam punk into their lives. This is really no different than how you will see hunters pay homage to the former frontier woodsmen that use to roam the plains. They can respect the hard work and dedication that these men put in to being frontiersmen and so a lot of modern day hunters really look up to them.
When we are talking about the cyber punk community, we are talking about the influence on the hacker culture by a future that hasn’t happened yet. The hackers of today are mostly influenced by the writers of cyber punk books. Also they are influenced by many of the cyber Animes that we see today. This all came to a head with the movie The Matrix. You can also see the style of dress being represented in movies such as Hackers which was made in the 90’s. Hackers along with everyone else in the 90’s were obsessed with how the future was going to turn out. We were so close to the year 2000 that some people thought the world was going to change overnight. This was especially brought to prominence by the fear and hysteria over the Y2K bug that most people barely even remember now. The technology that is seen when it comes to cyber punk media material is very inspiring to hackers. They want to be able to build tools that are similar to what they see in these movies. That is why you see such a big push to robotics these days.
Besides books and movies, as we mentioned earlier, a lot of the hackers of today are being influenced by this culture through the watching of Anime from Japan. The creators of Anime from Japan use a lot of both steam punk and cyber punk type back drops in their movies. And since a lot of hackers are big fans of the anime genre, it only makes sense that the lifestyle that is being seen starts to creep into real life as well. While most of the hackers out there do not let it influence how they dress, there are many that do. Some will wait until Halloween or Comic con to show this but others will make it part of their everyday street wear.
When you have a culture that is newly forming, there is a good chance that it is going to draw on influence from previous cultures that it has been exposed to. The hacking community is no exception to that rule. In this case, instead of a sports culture or something similar that is more mainstream, we are seeing the introduction of both cyber and steam punk influence.