A natural question is: Why? Why spend so much time both tracking the nature of a commonly-used word, its history and meaning, and also cover all the various media and journalistic usage of it? Surely there must be better things for a person to do with his limited time on Earth. And in that context, there very likely are better things to do with limited time.

But part of making use of limited time is doing work that one considers to be for the greater good, and as far as the goals of this site go, there are multiple good reasons for working on this information.


Hackers are Often Portrayed as Dark, Shadowy Forces With Enormous Power and Resources.
and this characterization allows other forces wider berth

Since the early 1980s, the concept of all-knowing, all-powerful computer hackers have been used as a reason and motivation for a variety of onerous moves, ranging from curtailing of civil liberties to the selling of nominally useful software. By overstating the reach and abilities of hackers, and to indicate that they are not just malevolent but in some cases murderous, violent, and mentally deranged, it has been possible to quell discussion and opposition. Just as granting or sustaining the rights of criminal defendants can lead to being considered one of the criminals, so too can someone who asks what a hacker is truly capable of doing in a given situation will, themselves, be accused of hacking. By focusing on errors and pointing out hyperbole and sensationalism, the true paradigms of computer-related crime and the limits of what steps are necessary to protect against it can be known.


Message boards, mailing lists, websites and meetings contemplate "Hacking".
and a lot of this is duplicated, inefficient time that could be better spent

Regardless of what the perceptions might be for the individual, it is obvious to a lot of folks that there is an enormous amount of wasted energy in "Hacker Debates". These debates range from linguistic ("Hacker vs. Cracker", "Script Kiddies", "Black Hat/White Hat/Gray Hat") to the historical (What exactly did Kevin Mitnick do, and what did he deserve or not deserve in terms of punishment or attention). While there are reams of study and mountains of words spent on these subjects, there seems to be a worthwhile cause in collating and collecting all the information, historical, academic and written, as well as clearing out common mistakes and misperceptions. In doing so, there might be a lot of saved time for many parties who can simply browse this site, get the "story", and move on.


Once wrong or misphrased facts enter the public eye, they tenaciously stay.
and then others build on this flawed foundation in their own work, unknowingly

History is riddled with errors, but while many of the protagonists are alive, there is something to be said for trying to 'get it right' as much as possible. This is especially true in the case of errata associated with books on hacking, which are often riddled with basic factual errors that can be verified and corrected. While a few missed dates or wrong names or mis-attributed facts might seem minor, these sorts of problems tend to snowball, with newer works feeding off the inaccuracies of the past (an academic study of the sociology of hackers pulling wrong dates and names from a source). In some cases, people completely new to the subject of hacking or computer ethics or even basic computer history might see only urban myths or sensationalistic stories and think this was the way things were. In some small amount, this site is intended, by spending a lot of energy in this direction, to fix these easy mistakes.


The story of the hacker mythology and history is interesting.
and the story is fractal; the more you learn, the more entertaining it is

At its core, the concept of the computer hacker, a smart, skilled person who dances about the electronic or real world, is interesting. This is part of the reason why it has been mined so thoroughly by media and popular culture. The more that one learns about the stories associated with it, the more there is to be entertained by. While it's easy to find false and predatory stories that craft fiction into the gaps of real events, discerning the actual story turns out to often be even more illuminating. This project is, ultimately, very rewarding.

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