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What does the emphasized part (the sentence in bold) mean?

The hackers are the technicians of this science - “It’s a term of derision and also the ultimate compliment.” They are the ones who translate human demands into code that the machines can understand and act on. They are legion. Fanatics with a potent new toy. A mobile new-found elite, with its own apparat, language and character, its own legends and humor. Those magnificent men with their flying machines, scouting a leading edge of technology which has an odd softness to it; outlaw country, where rules are not decree or routine so much as the starker demands of what’s possible.

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It means that in the mentioned metaphorical country (the hackerdom), the rules are not precise or strict. Rules are not a usual. In this world, the importance of rules cannot be compared to the enormous opportunities (what's possible).

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  • Perhaps what I wrote is too literal. Rephrased. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 12:30
  • No, rules are not in demand. Rules are neither decree nor routine; and such decree or routine is not so much as [the demand of what's possible]. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:00
  • The passage focuses only on them (the hackers), so it doesn't say anything about our seeking. It's also unclear whose [demands of what's possible] belong to. Literally, it just says that the demands exist. However, it's reasonable to say that it's about our demands, and it's [what's possible] to us and to them too. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:29
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It means that the only rules are what is possible. There are no rules set out by a governing body (i.e. decree) or established by routine. Each individual is only limited by what he or she sees as the stark boundaries of reality.

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It simply mean that there are no pre defined rules and the execution is done as per the demand and the possibility of the action.

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