Subject: Re: Difference between LISP and C++
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 31 Oct 2002 23:40:47 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* "Geoffrey Summerhayes" <>
| Agreed, but it was "hacker" I was referring to, not "hack".

  The point is that there is no foundation for the coinage at MIT, but the
  use of "hack" to mean basically "do well", meant that "hacker" was simply
  someone who did something.  Only computer hackers became "famous", but
  music hackers also exist.  The question "what are you hacking?" is only
  slang for "what are you doing?".

| I was aware of the use of "hack" as a noun in journalism, but the term
| "hacker", AFAIK, first appeared to a general audience in articles on
| "phone phreaking".

  This is not correct, either.  The history of "hacker" is quite different
  from what people believe -- for the journalists, it has a longer story
  than they think, and for the hackers, the meaning to other parts of
  society has never been particularly positive to begin with.

| I'm guilty of overstating the case, surely.

  You seem overly defensive to me, and when I point out that all of the
  American dictionaries I own have a positive entry for "hacker" you only
  dismiss it.  I find this disturbing.

| As time progresses, I expect what I said to become more correct.

  But it has become less and less correct so far, so I have to ask for the
  observations you use for this more emphatic rejection of what you
  actually find in today's dictionaries.

| Current usage of "hacker" tends to the more derogatory meaning.

  If you look for the derogatory meaning, of course you will find it.  But
  to make "tends to" a valid conclusion, you have to be more objective and
  willing to look for data that contradicts your initial assumption.

| I suspect, like "villain", the benign version will slowly fade into
| obscurity.

  And what beningn meaning does "villain" have?

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.