The Two Faces of Hacking

Some hackers use software and hardware to express themselves creatively—either solving entirely novel technical challenges or finding new ways to skin the same old cats. Others are motivated by money, power, politics, or pure mischief. They steal identities, deface Web sites, and break into supposedly secure and certainly sensitive databases.

We at IEEE Spectrum have written dozens of stories about both—the Steampunkers and Arduino do-it-yourselfers, on the one hand, the Anonymous and Lulzsec ne’er-do-wells on the other. Inspired by New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, we took 25 of the biggest and best stories and assessed them along two dimensions: innovation and impact. Whether you agree with our assessments or not, we’d like to hear what you think. (Last updated 6 July, 2011.)