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Hacker: It's meaning and how it's changed.

#1
When people say hacker, the majority think of it synonymous with terrorist, Criminal, a scary existence who's only goal is to perform digital breaking and entering and steal from you like some common hoodlum.
this is because over the last 30 years Hollywood, TV, radio, newspapers, the media... they've worked to build that image, one of malevolence and uncaring, who's only goal is to destroy and cause pain to others.
however this was not it's original meaning.

Originally to hack something was to break or chop up something, to "hack" away at it however in the early 1960's at the dawn of early computing a new meaning was brought to light.
A hacker in the original terms is someone who studies, explores, tinkers with, and occasionally alters something for it's own sake, for personal enjoyment and curiosity alone.
this in it's self is not actively malicious... in fact many people who uphold the original term frown on what is considered hacking in the modern day, primarily because they have their own word for it, Cracker, someone who cracks code, breaks into stuff.

In an effort to undo the damage Hollywood did the terms white had and black hat were created in an effort to take back their term, unfortunately the media continues to this day to refer to crackers as hackers and continue this negative and mostly false view of hacking.
Some of the earliest hackers were more like cowboys, explorers finding the edges of a new frontier that had opened up in the digital age, they didn't have a fence and most malware and viruses were light hearted pranks which didn't cause permanent damage or to explore and see how something can be destroyed in a controlled environment in an effort to find ways to prevent it/secure it.
We do a lot of the same sorts of research in biology, genetics, physics, and other fields, but when it comes to electronics it's demonized the same way religious groups demonize genetics research as being against god, full of fear mongering and hate.
that's why Biohacking and doing independent research in DIY lab spaces is becoming prominent in the 21st century, the cost to do things has become affordable (much like in the mid to late 80's with computers), and people who would not otherwise know about or have an interest in it are suddenly able to explore new concepts and ideas.

So to reiterate, A hacker is someone who explores, tinkers with, and occasionally modifies something, be it technology, biology, whatever.
For it's own sake, to solve a puzzle, to answer questions, think, action scientist, or benevolent mad scientist.
This is the meaning of the word from the people who originated it, and I stand by that meaning.
because there are far more hackers doing good, either by securing systems, coming up with new technology and ideas, or working behind the scenes.
than there are crackers doing things for greed and hate and personal gain.
Crackers are the terrorists of cyberspace, and much like Isis and related groups are to Muslims, are extremists who in their actions lose the meaning of what they claim to be.

those are my thoughts on the subject, there's tons of stuff out there on it but I highly recommend reading the jargon file.
http://catb.org/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html
Also the introductory chapter of Hacking the Xbox by andrew Huang.

because both focus more on the original meaning instead of what it's become.

feel free to discuss.

“What hackers do is figure out technology and experiment with it in ways many people never imagined. They also have a strong desire to share this information with others and to explain it to people whose only qualification may be the desire to learn.”
― Emmanuel Goldstein, Dear Hacker: Letters to the Editor of 2600
"I reject your reality and subsitute my own." - Adam Savage, Mythbusters
[Image: 5.jpg]
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#2
Side note: Emmanuel Goldstein is who the government in '1984' is constantly trying to keep under because of his philosophies against authoritarianism and control by the government. As such, whoever took the pen name likely feels the same way, and channels those views into something more specific like hacking 'ie. strong desire to share this information.' Just a neat tidbit, the name stuck out to me for a second then I realized where it came from.

Agree with definition but disagree on views xd

Yeah, the term hacker is incredibly vilified. I mean, words do change meaning over time and culture, think about how the word 'quite' is used to indicate a small amount in britain, but seems to be more for large quantities in America ("that's quite nice.") Thus, I find it to no surprise that the word hacker changed meaning over time, and I honestly think that the whole movement to 'bring back the original definition' is a little bit silly as a result. Instead, come up with new terms. White-hat and black-hat don't count because they still refer to and describe the word 'hacker' but if you say 'penetration tester' or 'security expert' or even in this day and age if you just said 'maker,' those words all hold some synonymy with the term 'hacker' except with a more specialized view, and don't hold the same negative implications of what hacker means today.

I mean, after all, the term 'hack' used to be to repeatedly/wildly take swings at things in attempt to break them. Is that not what people in the 80s-90s did with technology, except trying to break things in very specific ways? Take a look at demoscene archives like pouet. Most textures and animations are created using division overflows in assembly. Same thing.

So I really don't mind the meaning change and think it's just always blown out of proportion. It's important to understand the history of the term and the history of the independent movement in technology, but words change, and as such we also have new words to describe the same thing without the negative connotations.

When I introduce myself as a hacker, I say it with the euphemism of 'computer security enthusiast.' Later on, as people think about what that means, they come to their own conclusion. In my region, most people are aware that security is an issue, and that there are security teams at every major tech company, so it's not necessarily a bad thing, but I like to leave them with the idea that I can break their facebook or something. I don't need to say it explicitly, and people can come to their own conclusions, and maybe subtly instill some kind of fear, or idea of greatness that comes with the term. I enjoy that feeling.

I mostly blame CEH for pushing the idea of terms. Describe yourself how you want to describe yourself, it's not that important. Since CEH was so available in the past and their intro chapters in every study guide are all about whitehat, blackhat, greenhat, suicidehat, etc. (when was the last time you heard the last two terms used seriously online...) that idea stuck with people a lot and created a bit of identity politics with people, which again I'm not a huge fan of and I'm a bit biased against.
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