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You will notice that they only brought in those that were not malicious, only those that were creative outside the rules. They basically follow the second clause in the "hacker ethic" entry in the jargon file
2. The belief that system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.
These guys designed useful products for Gmail and it's extremely smart to hire them, or offer their tools for free /a small fee.
You are so right Google should have hired them
You hire people for their talent and if they can fit in. They demonstrated enough talent to get looked at, which is a trick in itself.
Google doesn't have to hire everyone with talent. They need to hire the right talent.
I seem to recall that they did hire a couple of people that came up with cool API applications.
Another good point. Maybe they'll hire though, we don't know yet, or maybe what they did isn't that hard at all. I know this much, having too many smart (or "the best") people does not guarantee success. We see that constantly in sports. That said, I rather have smarter people around me, and the good news is that it doesn't take much to be "smarter". ;)
>2. The belief that system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.
I myself am such a hacker. I've discovered all sorts of securities holes in ISPs. One really bad, and in an ISP whose name anyone in the US would know. I contacted the appropriate sysadmins (making sure it was the top sysadmins and not some low level tech person who might not be honest), detailed the problem, and even gave him the code fix to close this security hole.
The best terminology for people who use hacking skills with bad intent is "cracker". The media often gets this wrong, and uses "hacker" instead. Hackers are the Good Guys. The Internet survives only because most people aren't evil. Most security problems are first found by honest hackers who report them and get them fixed before the crackers do.
Hackers sometimes crack, and some cracks are good hacks, but hacking and cracking are distinct activities.
A hack is 'an appropriate application of ingenuity'. Hardware hackers are those that come up with a simple circuit to replace a much more complex circuit.
Software hackers do the same thing with code. They generally, but not always, are drawn to system and scientific programming.
Search engines are an area that would be of interest to hackers on many levels, including hardware hackers. Just think about the custom servers that google puts together. And a hack that saves a few clock cycles in a search routine could save the company quite a bit of money and speed up searching for the user.