Definitions for hacker ethic

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Freebase

  1. Hacker ethic

    Hacker ethic is a term for the moral values and philosophy that are standard in the hacker community. The early hacker culture and resulting philosophy originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s and 1960s. The term hacker ethic is attributed to journalist Steven Levy as described in his 1984 book titled Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. The key points within this ethic are access, freedom of information, and improvement to quality of life. While some tenets of hacker ethic were described in other texts like Computer Lib/Dream Machines by Ted Nelson, Levy appears to have been the first to document both the philosophy and the founders of the philosophy. Levy explains that MIT housed an early IBM 704 computer inside the Electronic Accounting Machinery room in 1959. This room became the staging grounds for early hackers, as MIT students from the Tech Model Railroad Club sneaked inside the EAM room after hours to attempt programming the 30-ton, 9-foot-tall computer. The MIT group defined a hack as a project undertaken or a product built to fulfill some constructive goal, but also with some wild pleasure taken in mere involvement. The term hack arose from MIT lingo, as the word had long been used to describe college pranks that MIT students would regularly devise. However, Levy's hacker ethic also has often been quoted out of context and misunderstood to refer to hacking as in breaking into computers, and so many sources incorrectly imply that it is describing the ideals of white-hat hackers. However, what Levy is talking about does not necessarily have anything particular to do with computer security, but addresses broader issues.

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. hacker ethic

    1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing open-source code and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible. 2. The belief that system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.Both of these normative ethical principles are widely, but by no means universally, accepted among hackers. Most hackers subscribe to the hacker ethic in sense 1, and many act on it by writing and giving away open-source software. A few go further and assert that all information should be free and any proprietary control of it is bad; this is the philosophy behind the GNU project.Sense 2 is more controversial: some people consider the act of cracking itself to be unethical, like breaking and entering. But the belief that ‘ethical’ cracking excludes destruction at least moderates the behavior of people who see themselves as ‘benign’ crackers (see also samurai, gray hat). On this view, it may be one of the highest forms of hackerly courtesy to (a) break into a system, and then (b) explain to the sysop, preferably by email from a superuser account, exactly how it was done and how the hole can be plugged — acting as an unpaid (and unsolicited) tiger team.The most reliable manifestation of either version of the hacker ethic is that almost all hackers are actively willing to share technical tricks, software, and (where possible) computing resources with other hackers. Huge cooperative networks such as Usenet, FidoNet and the Internet itself can function without central control because of this trait; they both rely on and reinforce a sense of community that may be hackerdom's most valuable intangible asset.

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"hacker ethic." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/hacker ethic>.

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