mhiller asks this interesting question: "When those of us who code refer to ourselves as 'hackers' in mixed company, we always have to explain exactly what we mean by that - that we're not trying to crack into NORAD computers with our machines or anything else like that. Experience has shown that it's hard for a smaller group of peopleto act against the forces of linguistic change in the larger world. This is particularly true in the case of pejoration; when a word acquires a negative or taboo meaning it tends to stick. For this reason, I feel that our best efforts may not be enough to shake off the definition of 'hacker' that the public has largely locked on to. Perhaps we should promote the use of a different term instead." I've always been one for educating people on the proper terms, but with the media still largely not-getting-it, would we be better off finding another group moniker? There's more. Click the link if you're interested.mhiller had more to say. Here's the last bit:
"The confusion stems from the fact that we're using the term 'hacker' in its earlier, non-pejorative sense, but that's not the meaning it's taken on in the popular imagination. To Random Joe on the street, the term 'hacker' means what we call a 'cracker'.
Being a dabbler in linguistics, I can tell you that this isn't a unique process. When a formerly positive or benign word starts taking on a negative connotation, linguists call it pejoration. For example, the term 'villain' originally meant 'belonging to the villa', and referred to people now usually called peasants.
The best thing I could come up with was the term 'white-knight hacker', which isn't very good. So I ask Slashdot: What might be a better (or at least less confusing) way for us to refer to ourselves?"