A refugee used to be a person driven to seek refuge because of some act committed or some political opinion held. Well, it is true we have had to seek refuge; but we committed no acts and most of us never dreamt of having any radical opinion. Before this war broke out we were even more sensitive about being called refugees. We did our best to prove to other people that we were just ordinary immigrants.
April To the popular press, "hacker" means someone who breaks into computers. Among programmers it means a good programmer. But the two meanings are connected.
To programmers, "hacker" connotes mastery in the most literal sense: To add to the confusion, the noun "hack" also has two senses. It can be either a compliment or an insult.
The word is used more often in the former than the latter sense, probably because ugly solutions are more common than brilliant ones.
Believe it or not, the two senses of "hack" are also connected. Ugly and imaginative solutions have something in common: When he was working on the Manhattan Project, Richard Feynman used to amuse himself by breaking into safes containing secret documents.
This tradition continues today. When we were in grad school, a hacker friend of mine who spent too much time around MIT had his own lock picking kit. He now runs a hedge fund, a not unrelated enterprise. It is sometimes hard to explain to authorities why one would want to do such things.
Another friend of mine once got in trouble with the government for breaking into computers. Police investigation apparently begins with a motive. The usual motives are few: Indeed, the whole concept seemed foreign to them. But that disobedience is a byproduct of the qualities that make them good programmers.
Suppress one, and you suppress the other. This attitude is sometimes affected. Sometimes young programmers notice the eccentricities of eminent hackers and decide to adopt some of their own in order to seem smarter.
The fake version is not merely annoying; the prickly attitude of these posers can actually slow the process of innovation. But even factoring in their annoying eccentricities, the disobedient attitude of hackers is a net win.
I wish its advantages were better understood. They are a perennial topic of heated discussion on Slashdot. But why should people who program computers be so concerned about copyrights, of all things?
Partly because some companies use mechanisms to prevent copying. Show any hacker a lock and his first thought is how to pick it. But there is a deeper reason that hackers are alarmed by measures like copyrights and patents.
They see increasingly aggressive measures to protect "intellectual property" as a threat to the intellectual freedom they need to do their job.
And they are right.Notes on Nationalism, the essay of George Orwell. First published: May by/in Polemic, GB, London. Frank Schaeffer's essay "John is My Heart," also known as "My Heart is on the Line," has been widely circulated since it was first published by the Washington Post in A comprehensive, coeducational Catholic High school Diocese of Wollongong - Albion Park Act Justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God Micah Essay Scholarships.
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