Life hack

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Life hack (or life hacking) is any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. The term was primarily used by computer experts who suffer from information overload or those with a playful curiosity in the ways they can accelerate their workflow in ways other than programming.

The terms hack, hacking, and hacker have a long history of ambiguity in the computing and geek communities, particularly within the free and open source software crowds.


The original definition of the term "hack" is "to cut with rough or heavy blows." In the modern vernacular it has often been used to describe an inelegant but effective solution to a specific computing problem, such as quick-and-dirty shell scripts and other command line utilities that filtered, munged and processed data streams like e-mail and RSS feeds.[1][2] The term was later extended to life hack, in reference to a solution to a problem unrelated to computers that might occur in a programmer's everyday life. Examples of these types of life hacks might include utilities to synchronize files, track tasks, remind oneself of events, or filter e-mail.


The term life hack was coined in 2004 during the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego, California by technology journalist Danny O'Brien to describe the "embarrassing" scripts and shortcuts productive IT professionals use to get their work done.[1][3] After his presentation, use of the term life hack spread in the tech and blogging community.[citation needed]

O'Brien and blogger Merlin Mann later co-presented a session called "Life Hacks Live" at the 2005 O'Reilly Emerging Technology conference.[4] The two also co-author a column entitled "Life Hacks" for O'Reilly's Make magazine which debuted in February 2005.[5]

The American Dialect Society voted lifehack (one word) as the runner-up for "most useful word of 2005" behind podcast.[6] The word was also added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in June 2011.[7]

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  1. ^ a b "Interview: father of "life hacks" Danny O'Brien". 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  2. ^ "Cory Doctorow's notes from Danny O'Brien's first Life Hacks presentation". Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  3. ^ "O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2004". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  4. ^ "O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2005". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  5. ^ "Life hacks". Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  6. ^ "Words of the Year 2005.pdf" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  7. ^ "'NSFW,' 'ZOMG,' and 'Twittersphere' added to dictionary". Retrieved 2015-10-22.

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