HACKER: a troublesome word


Many people will happen to read this word, or hear about it, and that he then, in most cases, made a’ misconception. In the’ collective imagination with the term hacker it is usual to indicate someone, very experienced in computer science, that manages to infiltrate computer systems and protected, often in order to gain profit. Well…. you couldn't be more wrong! So let us dispel a few stereotypes that cast a dark halo around a universe full of joy and light.


It is not easy to go back to the correct etymology hacker, and the sources are sometimes discordant. However, we can say with certainty that the word "hacker" was already in use in the 17th century, to indicate a person who worked in the fields with care and hoe. The’ frequent use of terms hack, hacker and hacking came only in the mid-50s, to indicate’ the ability to move with ease in the underground labyrinths at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), often ignoring the prohibited-access signs, common in the structure. While the’ main use involves the field of’ informatics, it is understood, however, that at the base lays a spirit of playfulness and demonstration of skills. It is not hard to find an example of hacks, or demonstrations of this type, in various fields of knowledge just because we can say that “do a hack means doing something difficult, and do it in a fun and clever fashion”. Richard Stallman considered a hack being able to eat using 6 chopsticks instead of 2, for his own and and bystanders enjoyment. Many consider a hack the suite 4'33” by John Cage.


The correct term for this category of people is "cracker". If violating a system involves collective entertainment, ingenuity and cunning, then it is a hack. But what distinguishes the’ hackers by any programmer is not the end that is reached, but the way and the spirit in which the study and solution of the problem occur. Many hacks are ends to themselves. While often a hacker gets results that are very concrete and feasible in real life, his being hacker occurs regardless of the actual goal that he had in mind. The’ hacker identifies a problem (more or less significant), gets interested and passionate about it, tries to solve it, and does it with child-like spirit. And when he succeeds in doing so he will have rejoiced, and enjoy in being able to say to a colleague: "Did you see that? Had it ever crossed your mind that it was even possible?"

Examples of famous hackers

Richard Stallman (founder of GNU e Free Software Foundation) Linux Torvalds (creator of the Linux kernel) Ken Thompson e Dennis Ritchie (creators of C language) Larry Wall (creator of the Perl scripting language) Brian Kernighan (co-creator of the C language, creator of Awk)

Daniele Lo Re



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