hacker ethic

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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 free software 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 free 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 behaviour of people who see themselves as "benign" crackers (see also samurai). 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 e-mail 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 Internet (see Internet address) 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.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1984, Levy introduced a concept that is perhaps most relevant to understanding hacker perspectives on surveillance and privacy: the hacker ethic. At the time, this ethic involved the idea that "access to computers--and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works--should be unlimited and total.
The United States must figure out how to harness the important creative force at the heart of the hacker ethic while still deterring destructive criminal wrongdoers.
Allowing full reign for creativity is deeply connected to open source development--all commentators agree--and is central to the "hacker ethic" Himanen expounds.
Issues include the relationship between WikiLeaks and the hacker ethic, the constraint of overwhelming state power, the emergence of a global digital public sphere, the changing relationships between old and new media, and the emergence of shifts in social relationships marked by the current wave of social movements.
From its roots as a website with no ads, no business plan and a hacker ethic, Facebook has grown into a company worth $150 billion, with 6,337 employees and sprawling headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley.
As can be read in a key paragraph in the book, the basic issue of the hacker ethic is in fact "the meaning of life."
The hacker ethic, according to Levy, is that all information should be free.
The reading list includes a cyberpunk novel (Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson); a business biography from a former cartoonist at Hallmark Cards (Orbiting The Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie); and an assortment of books about the information revolution with varying degrees of obscurity (The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen, The Unfinished Revolution by Michael Dertouzous, and Just For Fun, by Linus Torvalds.)
This signifcant groundswell in the use of information technologies in Italy is also evident in the swathe of 'hacklabs' (think computers/net connection/geeks) that deconstruct the technology, provide space for various projects and push the now well-disseminated ideas of free software and hacker ethic through the activist community.
Next, a "hacker ethic" evolved with six hallmark characteristics.