One of my personal pet peeves is when the media presents information about "hacker" attacks. They of course either choose to ignore, or most likely are ignorant, of the use of the word in the computer world, where it *matters*.

At the risk of oversimplifying, they refuse to realize that there is a difference between *hackers* and *crackers* wherein the two have similar skills and knowledge bases but the crackers work with malicious intent while hackers do it "because they can"/for the knowledge. The people that carry out the premedidated, viscious attacks, be it DOS attacks, virii, whatever, are of the cracker variety. Yet the media ignorantly calles them hackers!

Now let me say I am *not* a hacker, nor a cracker—but only because I have not yet bothered to learn the things I should. If I found the time and motivation, and I am sure someday I will, just to *know* how, I could probably be a pretty decent hacker in two days, three tops. And anytime I try to *say* this "I could be a hacker in three days if I tried" it freaks pepople *out* they're like "a hacker? oh my GOD! that's BAD" and all I can do is sigh... because they dont have the proper context themselves to know the meaning of hacker as it is *meant*, they only have what the media feeds them. And the media, incorrectly, preaches 'computer attack = = hacker = = bad!!!' That drives me crazy. If they're going to report, why can't they at least get the terminology right?

It is very true that the words cracker and hacker mean different things. It is also correct that media has corrupted the meaning of the word hacker.
Basically the term hacker meant, back in the good, old days, someone who was particulary adept at something.

  • A computer-hacker, someone with superior computer-skills
  • A tango-hacker (admittedly not used too often..), someone with superior tango-skills.
  • A ski-hacker, someone with ... you get my drift.

Cracker was used as a specialized term for illegal/immoral computerhackers. Not so anymore. Media ruined it for us.

A general (and valid) complaint voiced by self-styled hackers when they mean something more specific. Also a subset of lazy journalism.

Take a given higher-up in the American media. Likely she spent her undergraduate years on communications, journalism, English. Some such liberal arts degree heavily deemphasizing the technical side of education, creating a journalist both unskilled with technology and skeptical of her audience's stomach for it. As a result, reports on technical subjects addressed to a popular audience tend to do away with details and context that would lend the piece meaning, or otherwise get these details completely wrong.

The hacker's more specific intended critique focuses on the confusion of the terms "hacker" and "cracker" detailed in the above postings. It is a relentless pursuit of a concept or term to identify oneself in a positive light as a nerd, guru, BOFH, sysop or otherwise socially unenviable caste. While there are always exceptions, these stereotypes are not of charismatic people. The stereotypical hacker (or cracker if you prefer) would not be one to calmly address someone else's label for them in a bid to affect change on an interpersonal level. They'd sulk about it, flip out, or at best fail to convince anyone.

The attempted purification of "hacker" mirrors the hacker/cyberpunk culture's self-destructive tendency towards being different at all costs. The further from fashion my wearable computer sets me, the better.

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