The Story of Mel embodies many of the themes and ideas found in other hacker legends. Mel, like other legendary hackers, is a type of prowess hero whose heroic qualities are a result of his extraordinary programming abilities. The hero of prowess is defined by Coffin and Cohen as: ``The values they embody reflect the standards, attitudes, and potentials of his society, and most of these heros are historical.''. In the society of the programmer the valued skills are related to the ability to make the computer obey commands. Control over the activity of the computer, especially in ways that are unusual, unexpected, obscure, or particularly clever, are the hallmarks of a hacker.
Like heros of prowess in other societies, the hacker who has such strength in one area may have balancing flaws in other aspects of their abilities. The legendary hacker is likely to be described as fairly inept at dealing with other humans. The tendency to work long or odd hours, a disregard for personal appearance, and inability to communicate effectively with other people who are not themselves hackers are all part of the persona of the hacker. In this way, the heroic hacker is weak in exactly the traditional aspects of a hero in other societies. Strength, size, and attractiveness, traditional aspects of a heroic figure, are specifically not found in the hacker hero. This is another indication of the outsider or counter-culture nature of the hacker. Those values that are appreciated in traditional culture are specifically not found in the hacker. Instead, the hacker's prowess is based on more arcane knowledge: power over the logical yet inscrutable computer.
Another aspect of the traditional hero that is, however, present in the hacker hero is that of virtue. In the case of the hacker the virtue, the moral code, is embodied in the Hacker Ethic. The Hacker Ethic is essentially that information should be freely available to individuals who seek to understand the details of any system. The Jargon File  defines the Hacker Ethic as:
Hacker Ethic, the n. 1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing free software and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible.
Another example of the Hacker Ethic can be seen in the license agreement of the interactive text editor Emacs. Emacs was written by legendary hacker Richard Stallman, who prefers to be called by his initials which he uses for his login id, RMS. RMS is a second-wave hacker from MIT who, in addition to other feats of hacking, wrote the hacker's favorite text editor. Emacs is completely extensible and includes a fully functional version of the LISP programming language so that customizations to the editor can be written as LISP programs. Emacs is distributed free of charge by the organization founded by RMS called GNU and includes a novel licensing agreement called the ``GNU General Public License'' or the ``copyleft'' agreement . The copyleft agreement says that by using the Emacs program you agree to share what you do with other hackers. According to RMS :
The legal meaning of the GNU copyleft is less important than the spirit, which is that Emacs is a free software project and that work pertaining to Emacs should also be free software. ``Free'' means that all users have the freedom to study, share, change, and improve Emacs. To make sure everyone has this freedom, pass along source code when you distribute any version of Emacs or a related program, and give the recipients the same freedom that you enjoyed.