12 Jun 2011

Hacking And Cracking The Slack Hacks

This is a completely pointless and unobtainable campaign, but its really starting to grind my gears to hear the word 'hacker' used in the press with negative connotations.  The Today programme on BBC Radio 4 seemingly makes this error on an almost weekly basis.  I was even surprised by the Technology editor of the Guardian recently making this error.

Just to recap:

Mozilla Firefox - built by hackers

VLC media player - built by hackers

GNU/Linux and all the associated software in the repositories - built by hackers

The entire working protocols of what we call the INTERNET - built by hackers

I've been annoyed by this lack of distinction for a long time, and recently I finished reading The Cathedral And The Bazaar by Eric Raymond, and in his book he espouses precisely my point:

"There's another group of people who loudly call themselves hackers but aren't.  These are people (mainly adolescent males) who get a kick out of breaking into computers and phreaking the phone system.  Real hackers call these people 'crackers' and want nothing to do with them.  Real hackers mostly think crackers are lazy, irresponsible, and not very bright, and object that being able to break security doesn't make you a hacker any more that being able to hotwire a car makes you an automotive engineer...  The basic difference is this: hackers build things, crackers break them."

So if you're a journalist: crackers bad, hackers good.  Simple as.

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