Dear mainstream media
In lieu of the recent allegations that Russian hackers did X, Y, & Z in the last U.S. Presidential elections, I would like to set the record straight: the word ‘hacker’ means a few things.
In the computer coding world, a great hack means using your brain to come up with a solution to the problem at hand. But such problems are generally not law-breaking in nature.
When I say I’m a hacker, that doesn’t mean that I break into anything. Not at all. In fact, people like me use the word hacker interchangeably with the word coder.
A computer programmer is called a hacker. But guess what? — so is someone who cracks a bike-lock using a clever trick. Or, indeed, someone who compromises a server with a tool to gain unauthorized access is also a hacker. Indeed, there are a few threads to the word.
The word is a slippery one, but all too often, ‘hacker’ gets thrown around to mean one thing: a computer whiz who performs mean-spirited or illegal things with their skills.
But 9,999 times out of 10,000, coding is a benign activity.
Believe it or not, coding is a craft; one could liken a nice morsel of code to that of a quaint clay bowl made by hand. So needless to say, it wouldn’t be correct to cast a master hacker, generally, in a dark shadow.
So — writers & talking heads of the mainstream news world — the next time you utilize the word ‘hacker,’ just know that it doesn’t often mean what you think it does; not now, nor in the past.
And coders out there, don’t be sheepish: call yourselves hackers; it’s our word & we ought not shy away from language that may best define us.