If, as Arthur C. Clarke wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," then hackers are magicians.
The term has been widely abused and mutated by recent generations. Of note, the mass media widely publicize the term Hacker as a Bad Guy. The Truly-Computer-Literate world often takes great offense to this and deflects the media use of "Hacker" to be something negative or Evil.
- Cracker - an unethical hacker
- Black Hat & White Hat - another method to differentiate between malicious and benevolent. White Hat Hackers will find a hole in a remote system and inform the system administrator and take no action to harm the remote system. Black Hat Hackers do as they please. Some articles have referenced a Grey Hat for hackers that represent a middle ground.
- "Malicious Users" - a term used by some groups including Microsoft for their PR-friendly security advisories. Other Media sources, noting that the term has already developed a negative connotation, may use "Malicious Hacker."
- Real Hacker - used to distinguish a Hacker away from the popular media use. Everyday people who can't be expected to be in the know often misname people "hacker" or "wizard" or the like as simple praise, without understanding the Weight of those titles. Usually if a person fixes something technical well above your level of understanding, this makes him a "hacker," where he may simply be familiar with that one area.
"Hacker" term misused by the media
- Boy of 12 exposes Whitehall email flaw - Robert Uhlig, Technology Correspondent
- Ballmer Slams Hackers As Criminals, Not Innovators - T.C. Doyle, VARBusiness
- The Hacker FAQ - Surprizing insight. Also note the existance of The Manager FAQ for hacker-types frustrated with the office social structure.
- The Jargon File
- Hacker Interviews
- The Hacker HOWTO - How To Become A Hacker
- A portrait of J. Random Hacker