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Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT (MIT Press) Paperback – March 11, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Nightwork. .. shows that students just want to have fun, especially engineering and technology students.

(Publishers Weekly)

A reminder that it is up to each generation to go where no man has gone before.

(The New York Sun)

About the Author

Institute Historian T. F. Peterson has spent many years lurking in the corridors of MIT picking up gossip and monitoring hacks in progress.
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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; updated edition edition (March 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262515849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262515849
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a terrific, fairly comprehensive book of the highlights from MIT's long tradition of pranks. However, if you have already read Journal of the Institute of Hacks, Tomfoolery, and Pranks, you'll find you've read most of this before, and in better detail, with better-reproduced photographs (in my opinion.) The good thing about Nightwork is that this is includes hacks from more recent years than the other book.

For me, the time they spent on the new stuff wasn't nearly enough to justify buying a whole new book, but on its own and to someone who has never read its predecessor, it is an excellent and entertaining history.
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Format: Paperback
I had a brief opportunity to read this book a while ago. There are plenty of stories about hacks that would make anyone go "why in the name of science these geeks wanted to do that?" And well, you are asking that about people that are pride of being considered geeks. But then again, with this book you will get acquainted with the all-time famous football game between Harvard and Yale where the winner was MIT (??), the 48 unit weight that "cracked" the dome and that the measure of the Harvard bridge is about 364.4 smoots + one ear

And for those of you lucky enough to have established contact with an MIT student/alum, ask them about the secret that lies within the Institute Historian T. F. Peterson and the "hack" that its right there in front of your eyes. Congratulations, you have been hacked.
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Format: Paperback
The Massechussettes Institue of Technology has been host to the leaders of innovations in many fields: Artificial Intelligence, media and communication technology, open source development, and on and on. One of its lesser known areas of bleeding-edge innovation has been pranks and hacking. Well, Institute Historian T. F. Peterson is here to set that straight with Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT.
Long before the term 'hacking' was associated with computers (and pejoratively by the popular press), it was an MIT institution. MIT undergrads used the term to describe any activity that took their minds off studying and stress. In Nightwork, the best of the best of the history of MIT hacks is documented, photographed, and explained in great detail.
Some of the best (and most visible) hacks at MIT involve The Great Dome. For instance, to celebrate the 2001 release of the movie The Lord of the Rings, MIT hackers made a gold ring around the dome with red Elvish script, "authentically inscribed with Tolkien's text." In the same spirit in 1999, two days before the release of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the dome was made up to look like R2D2 (pictured below).
Nightwork covers these more obvious hacks as well as the long history of pranks at MIT dating back to the 1940s: Interesting Hacks To Fascinate People. And lest the reader think this is all just mindless fun, a collection of explanitory and philosophical essays is also included.
Even if you're not a hacker or a prankster yourself, hack your bookshelf with Nightwork.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
MIT students over the years have done a number of incredible stunts, including putting a police car with lights flashing on top of the Great Dome and "borrowing" an iconic cannon from Caltech. The book is an extensive history of the background of MIT "hacks" that highlights many of the more remarkable ones. The detailed narrative may not be engrossing for everyone, but readers will be impressed with ingenuity of these budding engineers and scientists.
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Format: Paperback
Here is an informal romp through decades of MIT pranks. Reflecting well on the ingenuity and craziness of the undergrads who devoted so much time and sweat to making these happen. Most of the pranks revolve around some high tech gimmick. As you follow the narrative, you might admire the unorthodox nature to which technology has been applied.

The only lack in the book is in anecdotes of failed pranks. These could surely comprise a much larger text.
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Format: Paperback
"Nightwork: a history of hacks and pranks at MIT" is a well-written documentation of the ingenious stunts engineered by the super bright, super creative students at MIT. The author doesn't lose any of the hilarity in his/her description of the student hijinks.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Nightwork" is a compilation of some of the best hacks and pranks perpetrated by MIT students over the years, and besides being impressed by their ingenuity and impudence, I also thought they were uproariously funny. If you like hearing your friends and acquaintances tell stories about clever and outrageous (but harmless) pranks, you will love this book. It includes pictures, descriptions, as much background as the authors were able to gather, and even some letters written by various notable MIT alumni... including one of their most famous- or infamous- hackers. This was well worth every penny I spent.
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Format: Paperback
This is an entertaining book full of pictures of MIT hacks and anecdotes and essays on hacking. However, much of the material is reprinted from the more lengthy and generally superior previous two books on MIT's hacking tradition, "Is This the Way to Baker House?" and "The Journal of the Institute for Hacks, Tomfoolery & Pranks at MIT". I bought this book since it includes some more recent hacks than either of those two. Nightwork is worth buying, but if you really want good books on hacking at MIT, find yourself used copies of the other two.
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