= W =
wannabee /won'*-bee/ n.
(also, more plausibly, spelled
`wannabe') [from a term recently used to describe Madonna fans
who dress, talk, and act like their idol; prob. originally from
biker slang] A would-be hacker. The connotations of this term
differ sharply depending on the age and exposure of the subject.
Used of a person who is in or might be entering larval stage,
it is semi-approving; such wannabees can be annoying but most
hackers remember that they, too, were once such creatures. When
used of any professional programmer, CS academic, writer, or
suit, it is derogatory, implying that said person is trying to
cuddle up to the hacker mystique but doesn't, fundamentally, have a
prayer of understanding what it is all about. Overuse of terms
from this lexicon is often an indication of the wannabee
nature. Compare newbie.
Historical note: The wannabee phenomenon has a slightly different
flavor now (1993) than it did ten or fifteen years ago. When the
people who are now hackerdom's tribal elders were in larval stage, the process of becoming a hacker was largely unconscious
and unaffected by models known in popular culture -- communities
formed spontaneously around people who, as individuals, felt
irresistibly drawn to do hackerly things, and what wannabees
experienced was a fairly pure, skill-focused desire to become
similarly wizardly. Those days of innocence are gone forever;
society's adaptation to the advent of the microcomputer after 1980
included the elevation of the hacker as a new kind of folk hero,
and the result is that some people semi-consciously set out to
be hackers and borrow hackish prestige by fitting the
popular image of hackers. Fortunately, to do this really well, one
has to actually become a wizard. Nevertheless, old-time hackers
tend to share a poorly articulated disquiet about the change; among
other things, it gives them mixed feelings about the effects of
public compendia of lore like this one.
--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.