Computer Crime Research Center


Hackers vs hackers

Date: September 16, 2006
Source: ZDNet UK
By: Dana Blankenhorn

Red Hat vice president Michael Tiemann's line that "volunteer hackers" still drive open source continues spinning around the news-osphere, over two weeks after it was said.

His point is one I agree with. Volunteers are crucial to growing open source projects. They help drive companies down what I call the "open source incline," that series of licenses that run between proprietary and GPL code. They innovate, they support one another. Volunteers are at the heart of the open source enterprise.

It's the word "hackers" that sticks in the craw, somehow. I am certain Tiemann, who also heads OSI, meant only the best when he used it. The word originally meant someone who liked "a good hack," a well-done, elegant program which did the most work with the least amount of code or fuss.

But to many people in the enterprise space, caught between an impulse to support or discourage open source, the term is loaded. To these people it implies a criminal, at minimum someone who cares nothing for intellectual property, for patent and copyright. It also implies someone young and immature, a high school geek with a pocket protector.
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