Re: PEDANTRY: Hackers/Crackers

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 09:17:16 -0700 (PDT)

> > You're hanging onto the past, Eliezer...
> No he isn't = he is defending the noble present
> read <> and see
> if you all can step up to the mark.

Unfortunately, this document is meaningless, being nothing but the assembled culture of a small segment of society with little direct influence on the culture as a whole (but of course great indirect influence by what they produce).

Language, unlike reality, is a matter of consensus. There are no central authorities and no testable theories. No matter how many times you may protest that "gay" means "joyful", the fact is that when the word is encountered by a typical English-speaking reader, the first meaning that jumps to mind is "homosexual". As much as we want "hacker" to keep its original meaning as someone who pushes limits and explores possibilities, the simple fact is that 99% of English-speaking readers who encounter the word think about teenagers breaking into computers illegally. Merriam-Webster includes both senses of the word, no doubt because computer geeks pestered them into including the original usage, but there is no doubt that writers and editors in the real world use only the commonly understood meaning--what we would call a "cracker" (a term used by absolutely no one but those still clinging to the past glory of the word "hacker").

I too lament the loss of a good word. But it /is/ lost, and it's time to just get over it.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,

are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC