Thursday, 9 July 2009

Cracker --- goes good with cheese, smoked oysters and possible caviar.

I just read that line and cracked in laughter :)

Finally some random forum in the web where someone addresses the predictable "hacker not cracker" argument and most people bring it to some good jokes, actually saying who cares how they are called, the fight for the meaning of the word "hacker" is lost and all those people are idiots anyways. Yep, the majority in that message board just didn't cared and cracked some nice jokes about it.

Why can't you find other places like this on the net? Maybe they were so pissed off by seeing their favorite community site crumble to nothing that just wanted to punch in the face anyone who comes with the silly "crackers not hackers" argument? Seriously I was positively surprised that the majority there addressed the definition and ethics problem differently that in several other sites. This usually doesn't happen!

As I address it in a post at the same forum thread, once the hackers where the programmers and hardware gurus but today the term has changed and nobody can do something for that. When you create a new term "cracker" to differentiate from the programmers, most people still understand "hackers" as the good security breakers and "crackers" as the bad security breakers. The myth perpetuates and now if some stupid person breaks uninvited in a computer and does anything questionable (even a simple website defacing is not ethical in my opinion) he claims to be a hacker (the good guy) and not a cracker. But as I said, it's like saying "I am a hero, not an asshole". Who would say otherwise?

I am currently reading a classic book by Steven Levy, Hackers, heroes of the computer revolution (1984). There are the early computer programmers of the sixties, the hardware gurus who build home computers and the early game developers and software copy protection crackers presented in this book. No mention of anything resembling the modern media definition at all. But today, saying "hackers" we mostly mean the later. And that thing is that has to be demystified or else more people on the net will create senseless havoc and even think they are heroes by doing that. We have to show them that it's not ethical, it's not justified and it's not the right spirit.

I even started programming at a very late age where the meaning had already shifted. I never called myself a hacker, it's demeaning. I called myself a programmer, coder, demoscener or geek. Maybe that's because I simply don't care for the preservation of the old definition of the term because it existed several years before my time. But there are tons of great hobbyist and underground programmers just being creative in the old sense with the "hacking spirit" as described in the book. Not calling ourselves hackers doesn't change the fact that some of us will always show signs of the creative spirit, the insight, the programming enthousiasm, the cleverness in computers, science, arts or any human discipline for all ages to come. We just don't need yet another idiotic definition, some kind of honorable title to mask our true intentions and justify questionable acts. We are what we do and we do what we are.

Apparently 45.652 people get it on the internet..

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