The young, "hacker" philanthropists are praised, with little criticism, for donating their billion dollars in philanthropy earlier in their life, sometimes ignoring the lessons of history.
"A few weeks ago, on the NCRP blog, Ryan Schlegel wrote an insightful post pushing back against some of the breathless celebration that had surrounded the promotion of “hacker philanthropy,” the term that Sean Parker coined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed to describe the giving of his tech mogul peers. Philanthropic “hackers,” according to Parker, are part of a “new global elite,” led by “pioneers in telecommunications, personal computing, Internet services and mobile devices,” with unprecedented financial resources. They are “problem solvers” with “an antiestablishment bias, a belief in radical transparency, a nose for sniffing out vulnerabilities in systems, a desire to ‘hack’ complex problems using elegant technological and social solutions, and an almost religious belief in the power of data to aid in solving those problems.” Many of them are also relatively young, having achieved immense entrepreneurial success before they turned 40. This makes them “an aberration in the history of wealth creation,” since “[y]outh and philanthropy haven’t historically mixed.”
"Schlegel takes on Parker’s history on two accounts. First, he argues that “hacker philanthropists”—young entrepreneurs who devote resources to challenge the status quo—are not really that new a phenomenon. Second, he suggests that Parker, in commending hackers for refusing to “assimilate into the stodgy institutions of the past” runs the risk of ignoring that past entirely, and therefore missing an opportunity to mine it for valuable lessons.
"Schlegel raises some important points, and any deflation of the overheated rhetoric of tech utopianism is a public service. But I think that Parker—and those who have heralded his op-ed—have a stronger claim for historical novelty than he allows. And what is new about their giving deserves some scrutiny."--Benjamin Soskis, HistPhil.org