Hack - show we use a different term?

Jefferson Kirkland numberwhun at gmail.com
Sun Jul 22 13:53:04 BST 2007

On 7/22/07, Leo Lapworth <leo at cuckoo.org> wrote:
> The term 'Hack' is used for so many things, some of the computer related
> ones are:
> *"Hack* has several meanings in the technology and computer science
> fields:
> a clever or quick fix to a computer program problem; a clumsy or inelegant
> solution to a problem; illegally breaking into a computer, generally over
> a
> network connection; or a modification of a program or device to give the
> user access to features otherwise were unavailable to them." -
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack_%28technology%29
> The problem I have is whenever I speak to almost anyone not in the
> technology/computer field they only ever think "illegally breaking into a
> computer". I got several really confused people asking why the BBC/Yahoo
> was
> sponsoring breaking into computers when I said I was going to the
> "Hackday".
> I think they had images of hundreds of geeks trying to take down "the man"
> (who ever he is).
> Maybe it doesn't matter - but it just got to the point where I'm getting
> bored explaining it to non-techs. I'm also reading a novel which talks
> about
> 'hackers' and 'crackers' and starts defining the difference and then goes
> on
> to talk about a 'Whois' (yes, they had the cap W) look up taking so long
> the
> egg timer comes up - after having just being told that this was a 'shell'
> not a GUI - arrg - Why bother trying to explain the details if your going
> to
> get it wrong!

First, let me start with a long distance "Hello!" to everyone as I just
joined this list from across the pond in the US and this is my first

As for the discussion, I know exactly what you mean about having to
constantly explain to non-techies what the difference is between what the
actual definition and practice is compared to the media formed, hyped
version that they hear about every day.  I truely wish that the media would
get the word "hack(er)" out of their heads and apply the definition correct
term of "crack(er)" instead.  It would make all of our geek lives a little

Just as an example, our neighbor is in her 80's and I had the 'pleasure' of
meeting her last summer for the fist time (mostly because she is like a bear
with the exception that she hibernates almost year round inside of her
house.   Anyway, she asked what I do for work and I told her that I am a
developer/geek and she immediately piped out, "Your not one of them
"hackers" are you?  You haven't broken into my computer yet, have you?".
I not only painstakingly explained the difference, but also tried to explain
that not all people who are geeky break into computer systems, such as the
common fallacy goes.

Anywho, I think that we can mostly blame the media for the incorrect
terminology and its use.  And to think, they are the people that tend to
take more grammar classes than the rest of us.  You would think they would
research better, but then I must be giving too much credit.



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