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The Jargon File, seminal as always. A lexicon of hacker jargon. Found in print as The New Hacker's Dictionary.

From the website...

The intensity and consciousness of hackish invention make a compilation of hacker slang a particularly effective window into the surrounding culture — and, in fact, this one is the latest version of an evolving compilation called the `Jargon File', maintained by hackers themselves for over 15 years. This one (like its ancestors) is primarily a lexicon, but also includes topic entries which collect background or sidelight information on hacker culture that would be awkward to try to subsume under individual slang definitions.

Though the format is that of a reference volume, it is intended that the material be enjoyable to browse. Even a complete outsider should find at least a chuckle on nearly every page, and much that is amusingly thought-provoking. But it is also true that hackers use humorous wordplay to make strong, sometimes combative statements about what they feel. Some of these entries reflect the views of opposing sides in disputes that have been genuinely passionate; this is deliberate. We have not tried to moderate or pretty up these disputes; rather we have attempted to ensure that everyone's sacred cows get gored, impartially. Compromise is not particularly a hackish virtue, but the honest presentation of divergent viewpoints is.


I believe that the JargonFile captures a particular moment in the culture dating around 1995. In the following year, the skyrocketing popularity of AOL and the release of Windows 95 led to a dilution of the culture from which it has never fully recovered. -- Steve

Probably even further back, like 1993 when the web (a Wiki:FreudianTypo I'll leave as palimpset) Internet was legally opened to commercial access, after which point we had the SeptemberThatNeverEnded, the DotCom bubble, and a million other secondary phenomenon that contrasted with the prior hacker, academic, and military uses of the Internet. While the hackers might have hung on until 1995, I already had the suspicion by the time I fully joined the Internet in 1995 (and I still use the same primary e-mail address) that culture was already dead and I was part of the cause. Of course, I was already deeply part of FidoNet culture, and I had hacked into the 'Net was I was even younger (12) through NANET and later (15) through freenet, so I did have some sense of what I had missed.

I actually think this may account for why I am so counter-net.culture, not to mention my radical fervor for the Canadian political system since my younger days. Strangely, this makes me right wing on the 'Net, and left wing on the Street. Still, I associate GopherProtocol and UseNet most strongly with this net.worldview, and the WorldWideWeb and WebLogs with the new worldview. As a wiki guy, I have chosen to remove myself from the churn of net.events, and now that wikis have become popular, I want to find another realm to escape to. -- SunirShah


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