Meet The Real Hackers Of Silicon Valley (And NYC, LA, And London)

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “the tech industry”? For many people, it’s a bunch of company or brand names, like Facebook and Microsoft. Maybe a couple of key identifying people come to mind, like Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie or Sergey Brin walking about in Google Glass.

But the actual tech industry is comprised of the thousands of people who work every day in roles beyond the most high profile CEOs — the programmers, the designers, the product leads. I love working on our Cribs and Inside Jobs series, because they help shine a light on those stories. And a new network of blogs called “Hackers Of” does a beautiful job of it as well.

Hackers Of debuted earlier this year with Hackers of NY and has since spread to include Hackers of Silicon Valley, Hackers of LA, and Hackers of London, with sites for Chicago and Seattle on the way. It was all started by Dani Grant, a recent graduate of NYU who majored in computer programming. Grant now helms the Hackers of Silicon Valley site, with the other cities being covered by other tech writers.

The Hackers Of sites are simple, but powerful: Each post provides a full “snapshot” of someone who works in the tech industry, featuring a beautifully shot photograph and a short pull quote from an interview (the featured image above is from Hackers Of NY’s post about front end developer Alexandra Qin.) Often the quotes focus on programming and the projects they’re working on, but they also get into personal philosophies and motivations, work habits, and more.

They’re the kind of blogs that keep you scrolling through to read entry after entry, and make you bummed when you reach the end.

In an email, Grant told me that she started the site to get a wider network of people interested in programming. “I thought, the best way to get people to hack is by celebrating the hackers.” In a personal blog post last week, Grant elaborated on that thought:

“… In computer science, we are tasked with solving problems not just with any solution, but with the most efficient solution. In open source, the problems we solve for ourselves, we solve for the rest of the developer community. Hackers are superheroes to one another.

This is so empowering, even outside the scope of tech. What could I do to give this optimism to others, to get people hacking?

I taught an introductory coding class at school, but that wasn’t really the solution I was looking for. I wanted a way to celebrate hackers. When code is pushed, it ships without a face. If I wanted to get people excited about hacking, I had to bring back those faces.”

Overall, Hackers Of is a straightforward idea that comes from a positive place, and it’s being executed quite well. That’s how the best things in tech often start, right?