Who are hackers and What is Hacking ?

I was reading “Free as in Freedom” suggested by Kushal on the #dgplug channel on IRC. We also had a session on “History of Free Software Movement” on Monday”. I bookmarked the page at that time and thought to give a read in free time.

After reading the book, I was surprised and disgraced at the same time that we have no knowledge of the history of this computer science world and even we never tried to know.

So,  I will start with short Introduction of the book. This book is “biographical snapshots of GNU project founder Richard Stallman with the political, social and economic history of the free software movement. This book examines one man’s 20-year attempt to codify and communicate the ethics of 1970s era “hacking” culture in such a way that later generations might easily share and build upon the knowledge of their computing forebears. The book documents Stallman’s personal evolution from teenage misfit to the prescient adult hacker to political leader and examines how that evolution has shaped the free software movement. ”

‘Hacker’, Whenever we read or find out this term, the image that comes to our head is “a person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information, cause damage”. This is what we use to see in movies or media. This is definition by most of the dictionary we follow. But that’s not the fact.

According to Richard Stallman hack means “Playful cleverness.” Hacking meant playful brilliance.

Hackers amaze people with their intelligence and innovation. They gave life to novel ideas which people thought were impossible to do; to wrought into reality.

To understand the meaning of the word “hacker,” and to understand the hacker ethic culture, one should read this book.

This book beautifully explains how the terms cracking’,security breaking’ and prank’ mixed up and create a misunderstanding.  How the word ‘Hacking’ got the new definition as the time changed. That’s why writer of the book finished his writing with these lines

Using the term “cracking” rather than “hacking,” when you mean “security breaking,” shows respect for Stallman and all the hackers and helps preserve something which all computer users have benefited from: the hacker spirit.

After reading the book I can say “I am proud to be a hacker”

References:

  1. Kushal Das’s Article on “Hacker Ethic and Free software movement”
  2. Free as in Freedom
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