Re: PEDANTRY: Hackers/Crackers

Timothy Bates (
Fri, 02 Jul 1999 11:44:27 +1000

Lee Daniel Crocker
thinks that
<> Is
>meaningless, being nothing but the assembled culture of a
>small segment of society with little direct influence.
That is a new definition of meaningless to me. I assume that (given it is held by a potential minority of one with zero direct influence on the greater culture) it too is meaningless?

> but of course great indirect
> influence by what they produce).
Oh, meaningless because its influence is only indirect - like revolutionising the world and creating the very systems one which we are now communicating. Yes .. more meaningless for me please.

> Language, unlike reality, is a matter of consensus. There are
> no central authorities and no testable theories.
There is more than one language. Eliezer, myself, ESR, and many others use and defend the usage of a term invented for and by ourselves If this means that we cannot communicate usefully with a larger consensus, I doubt that that will matter very much. At any rate, consensi [sp?] are reached by attempts to define in addition to mere usage, and there is a consensual meaning consistent with ESR's text.

> 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.

I agree with your point, and that is exactly why I responded as I did. Just as activist gays took the word gay and made it their own in the minds of others, so too activist libertarian FSF hackers can take the word hacker for themselves.

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

I disagree. Just as activist gays are currently taking back the work queer: you do not have to give up. And this, IMHO, is an important battle - it defines a culture and a set of consistent principles.