[Noisebridge-discuss] Gained in translation?

Shannon Lee shannon at scatter.com
Sat Feb 4 15:55:49 UTC 2012

In the early part of the 20th century, there was a tradition at MIT of
unofficial exploration:  the steam tunnels, the rooftops, everywhere people
were not supposed to go, undergrads went.  It's likely that this tradition
was inherited from Oxford, where a similar tradition pre-dates the MIT one.

At both Oxford and MIT, clubs were formed and manuals clandestinely printed
on popular routes and places.  At MIT, the various clubs called themselves
"hacking" clubs, from the image of the explorer hacking his way through
untamed jungle with his machete, and the tradition of unauthorized
exploration was called "hacking."

When MIT got its first computers, they were big and expensive and access to
them was tightly controlled.  Several hacking clubs continued their
tradition of unauthorized exploration... of the computers.

At least, that's how I heard it.


On Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 5:11 PM, Tony Longshanks LeTigre <
anthonyletigre at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm curious what the word equivalent to "hacker" is in other languages.
> Speaking as a connoisseur of the branch of art appreciation I call
> "linguistic aesthetics," I must say that hack, hacker, hacking etc are not
> the most lovely words in English. How does one say Hacker in
> German
> French
> Spanish
> Japanese
> Chinese
> etc?
> Also, I've been wondering if the term "hack" as applied to a rank amateur
> - for instance, the disparaging term "hack writer" - is connected to our
> definition of hacking. Anyone know? Hopefully there's a lovely etymology
> for the word "hack" somewhere that spells it all out.
> I *heart* etymology. Sincerely. I love that language truly and visibly
> does evolve before our very eyes the same way everything else does, and in
> a process akin to natural selection as I understand it. It's memetically
> delicious!
> TLongshanksLT
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Shannon Lee
(503) 539-3700

"Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science."
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