Saturday, October 01, 2005

Hacking: Art or Science?

Whitedust: "The Definition Of A Hacker

The term "hacking" in a computer science context was first coined in the 1960's ; and its continuing extended usage widely attributed to localised Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) slang at the time, where in the very beginning the term "hack" was synonymous with the word "prank". An early indication of the darker side of future hacking perhaps but never the less in reference to this origin "hacking" could basically and simply be defined as;

"Making a system, program or piece of hardware do something that it was not designed to do."

Perhaps a good term to some up the meaning of "hacking" is "tinkering". Under this broad definition it'd be quite possible to "hack" the toaster into cooking hotter than it was designed to do, or anything else as mundane; the description of the hardware modification involved would fall well within the constraints of the term : a good hack. With the exception of the rather circumstantial, not to mention retrospectively amusing "seed" in the "prank" origin of the term; hacking previous to perhaps the early to mid 1980's had no real demonised undertones, no media generated air of menace - all of which such additions and confusions of the definition have emerged as commerce and relatively un tech savvy and uneducated parties have had by nature of the changes in day to day life become more involved with areas of computer science and information technology in general, areas which at the origin of the term hacking were quite alien to the man on the street."

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