The Jargon File

The Jargon File is a glossary of hacker slang going back as far as 1975 to the MIT AI Lab and Stanford AI Lab (SAIL), amongst others. It describes itself as “a comprehensive compendium of hacker slang illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor”.It is currently maintained by prominent programmer, author and open source software evangelist Eric S. Raymond (aka ESR).

Please note that hacking [which has to do with unrestricted access to knowledge] is unrelated to cracking [which has to do with breaking into computer systems for monetary gain]. When you’re trying to fix your broken TV, you’re hacking: you’re enabling yourself. The next logical step that you would follow as a hacker would be to give others access to the knowledge you gained, so they can fix their own TVs themselves. You might even contact the TV company and let them know they should probably replace that cheap component with something else because it keeps overheating. However, if you were a cracker, you would probably indulge in some underground advertising and offer to fix others’ TVs for $$$.

Hacking is not evil, the media is. But more on all this later.

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