[Haskell-cafe] What is a hacker? [was: Mozart versus Beethoven]

Kirsten Chevalier catamorphism at gmail.com
Thu Dec 14 01:34:10 EST 2006

On 12/14/06, Benjamin Franksen <benjamin.franksen at bessy.de> wrote:
> Kirsten Chevalier wrote:
> > (Since, of course,
> > one should never apply the term "hacker" to oneself.)
> Who told you that?

The Jargon File. But yes, I can anticipate more or less all of the
possible responses to *that*, and, point taken.

> Calling oneself 'hacker' is a sign of healthy
> self-respect; to the contrary, I don't know anyone who would call
> themselves wannabe-hacker.

Well, I hope so, since I contradict my own advice and call myself a
hacker anyway :-)

> Being a hacker is a matter of attitude and self-definition more than
> knowledge and experience. A hacker, even if young and lacking experience,
> reads books for hackers (if at all) not 'how do I become a hacker' books.
> The attitude is 'gimme the knowledge so i can go ahead and start doing real
> stuff', not 'oh, there is so much to learn, maybe after 10 years of study
> and hard work people will finally call me a hacker'.

Very reasonable. Very sane.

Speaking of the term "hacker" and of various subcultures, the way in
which Haskell and the open-source community seem to have met each
other this year just makes me melt with joy. I know it wasn't like
that six years ago; the Haskell community was small, and there wasn't
exactly such a thing as the "open-source community" (and please let's
not have a "free software" vs. "open source" debate, because I've
heard that all before, too). I don't know exactly what happened in the
meantime, besides the miracle of this vast series of tubes that we
cann the Internet, but someone should really be writing a sociology
paper about it.


Kirsten Chevalier* chevalier at alum.wellesley.edu *Often in error, never in doubt
"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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