Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Former Hacker"?

The term former hacker is being bandied about quite a lot right now (see examples here). The term struck me as odd simply because I think of hacking as a skill set, not a job. You can be a former police officer or former mayor because those are jobs that can end. But once you have a skill, you tend to retain it forever (like riding a bike....). My hunch is that the term is meant to suggest that the individual no longer breaks into other people's networks just for fun anymore, even though they could.


Trevor said...

I believe you're misinformed. Hacking isn't related only to computers, nor does it relate specifically to illegal activities. A hobbyist who writes software could be considered a hacker. A person who tinkers with cars could be considered a hacker. Hacking is simply a synonym for problem solving via unconventional means. I do however agree with you in that, you can't be a former hacker. Hacking is a mindset, like being curious, rather than a skill set, or job.

A person can't be a former [curious person] (I can't think of the proper noun in this case)

Chris said...

Trevor, yeah I can see that. Someone can "hack" their way through a problem.

Coincidentally, Pullum over at LL just used this very sentence:"It was December 2009 when the intrepid syntactic explorer Andrew Dowd, hacking his way through virgin grammatical jungle..."

A linguist asks some questions about word vectors

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