asks this interesting question:
mhiller had more to say. Here's the last bit:
"When those of us who code refer to ourselves as 'hackers'
in mixed company, we always have to explain exactly what we
mean by that - that we're not trying to crack into NORAD
computers with our machines or anything else like that.
Experience has shown that it's hard for a smaller group of
peopleto act against the forces of linguistic change in the
larger world. This is particularly true in the case of
pejoration; when a word acquires a negative or taboo
meaning it tends to stick. For this reason, I feel that
our best efforts may not be enough to shake off the
definition of 'hacker' that the public has largely locked
on to. Perhaps we should promote the use of a different
term instead." I've always been one for educating people
on the proper terms, but with the media still largely
not-getting-it, would we be better off finding another
group moniker? There's more. Click the link if you're
"The confusion stems from the fact that we're using the term
'hacker' in its earlier, non-pejorative sense, but that's
not the meaning it's taken on in the popular imagination.
To Random Joe on the street, the term 'hacker' means what
we call a 'cracker'.
Being a dabbler in linguistics, I can tell you that this
isn't a unique process. When a formerly positive or benign
word starts taking on a negative connotation, linguists
call it pejoration. For example, the term 'villain'
originally meant 'belonging to the villa', and referred to
people now usually called peasants.
The best thing I could come up with was the term
'white-knight hacker', which isn't very good. So I ask
Slashdot: What might be a better (or at least less confusing)
way for us to refer to ourselves?"