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The Jargon file  vs The Hacker Dictionary

Never buy this book -- it's a distorted version of the original


Classic Books

Recommended Links

Social Problem in Enterprise Unix Administration

The Unix Haterís Handbook

 The Peter Principle

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Parkinson Law

How to Solve It

The Art of Computer Programming

The Mythical Man-Month

The Jargon file

The Good Soldier Svejk

The Power Elite

Programming Pearls The True Believer Lions' Commentary on Unix K&R Book Rapid Development Winner-Take-All Politics Military Incompetence
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Tao of programming AWK book Animal Farm The Elements of Programming Style Humor Etc

This is an important historical document (see Original Hacker's Dictionary)  spoiled in later editions by Eric Raymond ;-). For example in v.4.1.4 we can see the following (note link to Open Source Initiative and of course we will never see the term raymondism :-)

bazaar     n.,adj.     In 1997, after meditatating on the success of Linux for three years, the Jargon File's own editor ESR wrote an analytical paper on hacker culture and development models titled The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The main argument of the paper was that Brooks's Law is not the whole story; given the right social machinery, debugging can be efficiently parallelized across large numbers of programmers. The title metaphor caught on (see also cathedral), and the style of development typical in the Linux community is now often referred to as the bazaar mode. Its characteristics include releasing code early and often, and actively seeking the largest possible pool of peer reviewers.

cathedral     n.,adj.     [see bazaar for derivation] The `classical' mode of software engineering long thought to be necessarily implied by Brooks's Law. Features small teams, tight project control, and long release intervals. This term came into use after analysis of the Linux experience suggested there might be something wrong (or at least incomplete) in the classical assumptions.

General Public Virus     n.     Pejorative name for some versions of the GNU project copyleft or General Public License (GPL), which requires that any tools or apps incorporating copylefted code must be source-distributed on the same counter-commercial terms as GNU stuff. Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects' software generated with GNU tools, which may in turn infect other software that reuses any of its code. The Free Software Foundation's official position as of January 1991 is that copyright law limits the scope of the GPL to "programs textually incorporating significant amounts of GNU code", and that the `infection' is not passed on to third parties unless actual GNU source is transmitted. Nevertheless, widespread suspicion that the copyleft language is `boobytrapped' has caused many developers to avoid using GNU tools and the GPL. Changes in the language of the version 2.0 GPL did not eliminate this problem.

open source     n.     [common; also adj. `open-source'] Term coined in March 1998 following the Mozilla release to describe software distributed in source under licenses guaranteeing anybody rights to freely use, modify, and redistribute, the code. The intent was to be able to sell the hackers' ways of doing software to industry and the mainstream by avoid the negative connotations (to suits) of the term "free software". For discussion of the followon tactics and their consequences, see the Open Source Initiative site.

As Slashdot ESR Recasts Jargon File in Own Image story pointed out:

Re:I have one word for you: (Score:5, Informative)
by the Atomic Rabbit (200041) on Sunday June 08, @01:44PM (#6144060)
The pre-Raymond version of the Jargon File - the Hacker's Dictionary - is available here:

The Original Hacker's Dictionary [].

This is more a historical work than anything else, as it documents the language of what Levy [] calls the "first generation hackers", the ones who worked in the AI labs at Stanford and MIT. Those communities died during in the 80s (which was, of course, the event that provided the impetus for the GNU project [].) The Hacker's Dictionary has a genuine and honest flavor that the modern Jargon File lacks, which is probably inevitable, since the Jargon File covers the modern internet-based "hacker" community - a vaguely-defined entity that has even become confused over the meaning of the word "hacker". It's therefore not surprising that ESR feels he can get away with sprinkling the Jargon File with Raymondisms.
Jargon FIle (Score:4, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, @12:59PM (#6143726)
The first time I read the Jargon File many years ago, I spent several days reading it LMAO. The entries were both funny and insightful. When I read the entries that ESR has added, I had a hard time reading the egotistical bullshit without being completely disgusted. Releasing a new version for the "hanging chad" was a complete waste IMHO. WTH did that have to do with computers? It seems that more and more of the newer entries are politically related. The sad part is that they are neither funny nor insightful.

About six months ago I looked for copies of the older versions of the Jargon File. That was not as easy as it sounds. I don't know if ESR has been intentionally ridding the internet of the older versions, but I wasn't too happy about how difficult they were to find. If the older versions of the Jargon File completely disappear, then a valuable part of computer history will be lost. In it's place will be the mindless, egotistical rants of someone who thinks the Open Source community revolves around himself.

Re:And this is a surprise.. why? (Score:5, Informative)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, @12:16PM (#6143456)
Nobody handed this off to ESR. He took it upon himself. Back when he first started to overhaul the Hacker's Dictionary, many of the original contributors were less than pleased with the treatment he was giving it. There were many flamefests in alt.folklore.computers, I believe.

Some of the original complaints were that he was adding entries that weren't in common usage, that he deleted entries that he didn't personally like, and that the general tone of some sections was too self-serving. Some things never change.

Re:And this is a surprise.. why? (Score:2)
by JonK (82641) on Monday June 09, @11:14AM (#6150506)
You needed to look in the right place: the original flamewar wasn't on Usenet, but on the legendary UNIXHATERS, which was later archived to Usenet/Deja/Google/whatever under the euphonious title list.unix-haters. Something like (unchecked URL ahoy!) p:list.unix-haters should yield sufficient tidbits. Failing that, the UNIXHATERS archives are floating around online.
Re:And this is a surprise.. why? (Score:4, Interesting)
by madprof (4723) on Sunday June 08, @01:55PM (#6144149)
It isn't meant to be a purely historical document. It is meant to be a relevant, credible dictionary of terms that hackers use, and thus merely being updated is not good enough.

However it can only have real credibility if it can actually cover a reasonable amount of hacker slang, and the number of hackers has grown over the years so ESR is either going to be everywhere at once or he's going to choose a subset.

It appears that, given his recent choice of entries, if he wishes the Jargon File to be at all relevant in 5 years he'd have more success auctioning dogs.

Re:And this is a surprise.. why? (Score:1)
by sander (7831) on Sunday June 08, @05:46PM (#6145437)
It is anachronism in that it used to document the jargon of a specific era - nobody has bothered about it in ages and most of it is about as relevant as ESR to Open Source, that is not all that much.

It is a pity that revisionist changes are being made to it without a proper changelog, but itis no great matter. As things stand the Jargon File is an histopric artefact of little significance.
Re:This is the subject line. (Score:2)
by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Sunday June 08, @05:21PM (#6145329)
Who the heck is ESR, and why is he messing with my jargon file!??

I think he's related to General Failure.

Re:I met him at ALS (Score:3, Informative)
by GC (19160) <[email protected]> on Sunday June 08, @12:23PM (#6143499)
Just in case he does in case of ESR's incapacity []...

The Jargon File

Editorial rights and privileges, ownership of the Jargon File Resource Page, and the copyright of "The New Hacker's Dictionary", are to revert to Guy Steele , or with Guy Steele's consent to John Cowan or a third party agreeable to both.

inherent flaws in the system (Score:2, Funny)
by legendarypinkdots (664565) on Sunday June 08, @12:13PM (#6143427)
When a single person has that much control over the content of what is ostensibly a "living document", these things are bound to occur. I'm glad that he informed me that I'm supposed to reject hard-left political thinking, otherwise I may have embarassed myself in the near future.
So, what's new? (Score:2, Insightful)
by BJH (11355) on Sunday June 08, @12:15PM (#6143442)
ESR's been doing this for years - ever since he took over maintenance of the Jargon File, he's been adding crap definitions that exist only to push his views.

That's why I treasure my original copy of the GLS-edited Hacker's Dictionary...
Unit of ego (Score:5, Funny)
by Graabein (96715) on Sunday June 08, @12:18PM (#6143468)
I propose a new unit of ego: The ESR

1 ESR is basically redefining everyone around you to only exist in your own personal universe, where you of course are the most important person alive. Thus 1 ESR is the maximum this unit can ever attain, anything above 1 would mean instant insanity.

With apologies to Douglas Adams.

Re:Unit of ego (Score:5, Funny)
by pete-classic (75983) <[email protected]> on Sunday June 08, @12:21PM (#6143495)
It was someone like you that came up with the Farad.

Damned uselessly large units.

Re:Unit of ego (Score:2)
by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Sunday June 08, @12:33PM (#6143571)
( | Last Journal: Sunday March 16, @11:12AM)
Well, it's a good excuse to use those SI prefixes beyond femto.

Re:Unit of ego (Score:2)
by digitalunity (19107) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {lliksorez}> on Sunday June 08, @12:47PM (#6143654)
Nope. The Farad is quite useful. Just not in your average electronic projects.

What then, is a farad useful for? Blowing up small wires. First you charge an exceptionally large number of capacitors in parallel, then discharge them through a very small wire at a rate only controlled by their internal resistance. The wire melts, then vaporizes so fast that they physically explode.

Quite useful for scaring the shit out of the neighbors.

Yup. That's the only thing a farad is good for.

Re:Unit of ego (Score:1)
by SN74S181 (581549) on Sunday June 08, @12:54PM (#6143696)
Actually, there are 1 and 2.2 Fahrad capacitors now. Commonly used as backup voltage sources for micro-current non-volatile memory and clock circuitry.

Point well taken, of course.
Re:Unit of ego (Score:2, Informative)
by pete-classic (75983) <[email protected]> on Sunday June 08, @01:16PM (#6143837)
It also happens that 1 Farad caps are available at "Car Toys" and other mid to high-end car audio shops.

Seems that putting a 1 Farad cap in the line between the positive terminal of your battery and your sound equipment keeps your headlights from dimming when the bass hits.

But that isn't the point!

Actually they have 2500 Farad capacitors now. (Score:1)
by Sdrawcab (627443) on Sunday June 08, @01:19PM (#6143866) 2500.html
Re:Unit of ego (Score:5, Funny)
by FTL (112112) <slashdot@[ ] ['nei' in gap]> on Sunday June 08, @12:29PM (#6143542)
> I propose a new unit of ego: The ESR

If enough of us use this term, ESR will be forced to add it to the Jargon File. Which would deflate his ego. Which would invalidate the term. Which means he could remove it. Which of course would be an ego boost for him.

Rinse. Repeat.

Re:Unit of ego (Score:1)
by Kynde (324134) <[email protected]> on Monday June 09, @04:25AM (#6148157)
I propose a new unit of ego: The ESR

As a replacement to RMS, I suppose, but why?
Is that standardized somehow? I don't see esr getting along any better with the other units present in lkml, especially the main units Torvals (fame), Cox (hacking skills).
Re:Unit of ego (Score:2)
by Wiwi Jumbo (105640) on Monday June 09, @07:15AM (#6148596)
( | Last Journal: Sunday March 03, @11:30PM)
So where would a RMS come in under this plan?
Re:Unit of ego (Score:1)
by mtempsch (524313) on Monday June 09, @12:12PM (#6151199)
So where would a RMS come in under this plan? 1/sqrt(2)
Re:Unit of ego (Score:2)
by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Monday June 09, @03:56PM (#6153681)
Thus 1 ESR is the maximum this unit can ever attain, anything above 1 would mean instant insanity

Which would explain a hell of a lot about RMS.
(Hint: Funny or Stupid, not Flamebait)
Old news. (Score:2, Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, @12:19PM (#6143480)
This is not new. Ever since ESR first took over the dictionary he has been writing it around his own image. I guess he just found some time now to do a worse job and go full out.

A dictionary should not have opinions in it and the lexicon is full of it.
Re:Old news. (Score:1)
by SN74S181 (581549) on Sunday June 08, @01:20PM (#6143885)
As reference material for anybody who wants to follow up on this topic: the 'old timers' from the era of the original Jargon File still congregate in the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.computers. Many brilliant old-timers still participate. Not sure where else you can find a forum including mainframers from the 60's who can rightfully brand anything with a Microprocessor in it 'too new, off topic.' It's a great newsgroup. Check it out.
Continuing what he started (Score:5, Funny)
by Stephen Williams (23750) on Sunday June 08, @12:24PM (#6143505)
( | Last Journal: Thursday December 05, @06:02AM)
I always did think that the section at the back entitled "A Portrait of J. Random Hacker" read more like "A Portrait of Eric S. Raymond".


For that reason earlier editions of the Jargon File are preferable. Jargon File gives the reader a good idea what the Internet was before its explosion in popularity in 1994 (Web explosion) and it is available as a text file from the net. Here is the history of this interesting document:

The original Jargon File was a collection of hacker jargon from technical cultures including the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI lab (SAIL), and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities including Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

The Jargon File (hereafter referred to as `jargon-1' or `the File') was begun by Raphael Finkel at Stanford in 1975. From this time until the plug was finally pulled on the SAIL computer in 1991, the File was named AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC] there. Some terms in it date back considerably earlier (frob and some senses of moby, for instance, go back to the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT and are believed to date at least back to the early 1960s). The revisions of jargon-1 were all unnumbered and may be collectively considered `Version 1'.

In 1976, Mark Crispin, having seen an announcement about the File on the SAIL computer, FTPed a copy of the File to MIT. He noticed that it was hardly restricted to `AI words' and so stored the file on his directory as AI:MRC;SAIL JARGON.

The file was quickly renamed JARGON > (the `>' caused versioning under ITS) as a flurry of enhancements were made by Mark Crispin and Guy L. Steele Jr. Unfortunately, amidst all this activity, nobody thought of correcting the term `jargon' to `slang' until the compendium had already become widely known as the Jargon File.

Raphael Finkel dropped out of active participation shortly thereafter and Don Woods became the SAIL contact for the File (which was subsequently kept in duplicate at SAIL and MIT, with periodic resynchronizations).

The File expanded by fits and starts until about 1983; Richard Stallman was prominent among the contributors, adding many MIT and ITS-related coinages.

In Spring 1981, a hacker named Charles Spurgeon got a large chunk of the File published in Stewart Brand's "CoEvolution Quarterly" (issue 29, pages 26--35) with illustrations by Phil Wadler and Guy Steele (including a couple of the Crunchly cartoons). This appears to have been the File's first paper publication.

A late version of jargon-1, expanded with commentary for the mass market, was edited by Guy Steele into a book published in 1983 as "The Hacker's Dictionary" (Harper & Row CN 1082, ISBN 0-06-091082-8). The other jargon-1 editors (Raphael Finkel, Don Woods, and Mark Crispin) contributed to this revision, as did Richard M. Stallman and Geoff Goodfellow. This book (now out of print) is hereafter referred to as `Steele-1983' and those six as the Steele-1983 coauthors.

Shortly after the publication of Steele-1983, the File effectively stopped growing and changing. Originally, this was due to a desire to freeze the file temporarily to facilitate the production of Steele-1983, but external conditions caused the `temporary' freeze to become permanent.

The AI Lab culture had been hit hard in the late 1970s by funding cuts and the resulting administrative decision to use vendor-supported hardware and software instead of homebrew whenever possible. At MIT, most AI work had turned to dedicated LISP Machines. At the same time, the commercialization of AI technology lured some of the AI Lab's best and brightest away to startups along the Route 128 strip in Massachusetts and out West in Silicon Valley. The startups built LISP machines for MIT; the central MIT-AI computer became a TWENEX system rather than a host for the AI hackers' beloved ITS.

The Stanford AI Lab had effectively ceased to exist by 1980, although the SAIL computer continued as a Computer Science Department resource until 1991. Stanford became a major TWENEX site, at one point operating more than a dozen TOPS-20 systems; but by the mid-1980s most of the interesting software work was being done on the emerging BSD UNIX standard.

In April 1983, the PDP-10-centered cultures that had nourished the File were dealt a death-blow by the cancellation of the Jupiter project at Digital Equipment Corporation. The File's compilers, already dispersed, moved on to other things. Steele-1983 was partly a monument to what its authors thought was a dying tradition; no one involved realized at the time just how wide its influence was to be.

By the mid-1980s the File's content was dated, but the legend that had grown up around it never quite died out. The book, and softcopies obtained off the ARPANET, circulated even in cultures far removed from MIT and Stanford; the content exerted a strong and continuing influence on hackish language and humor. Even as the advent of the microcomputer and other trends fueled a tremendous expansion of hackerdom, the File (and related materials such as the AI Koans in Appendix A) came to be seen as a sort of sacred epic, a hacker-culture Matter of Britain chronicling the heroic exploits of the Knights of the Lab. The pace of change in hackerdom at large accelerated tremendously --- but the Jargon File, having passed from living document to icon, remained essentially untouched for seven years.

This revision contains nearly the entire text of a late version of jargon-1 (a few obsolete PDP-10-related entries were dropped after careful consultation with the editors of Steele-1983). It merges in about 80% of the Steele-1983 text, omitting some framing material and a very few entries introduced in Steele-1983 that are now also obsolete.

This new version casts a wider net than the old Jargon File; its aim is to cover not just AI or PDP-10 hacker culture but all the technical computing cultures wherein the true hacker-nature is manifested. More than half of the entries now derive from USENET and represent jargon now current in the C and UNIX communities, but special efforts have been made to collect jargon from other cultures including IBM PC programmers, Amiga fans, Mac enthusiasts, and even the IBM mainframe world.

Eric S. Raymond <[email protected]> maintains the new File with assistance from Guy L. Steele Jr. <[email protected]>; these are the persons primarily reflected in the File's editorial `we', though we take pleasure in acknowledging the special contribution of the other coauthors of Steele-1983. Please email all additions, corrections, and correspondence relating to the Jargon File to [email protected] (UUCP-only sites without connections to an autorouting smart site can use ...!uunet!snark!jargon).

(Warning: other email addresses appear in this file but are not guaranteed to be correct later than the revision date on the first line. Don't email us if an attempt to reach your idol bounces --- we have no magic way of checking addresses or looking up people.)

The 2.9.6 version became the main text of "The New Hacker's Dictionary", by Eric Raymond (ed.), MIT Press 1991, ISBN 0-262-68069-6.

The 3.0.0 version will be published in September 1993 as the second edition of "The New Hacker's Dictionary", again from MIT Press (ISBN 0-262-18154-1).

Not only does Jargon File describes yesterday's jargon, it also helps the reader understand the history and the development of the computer science and Internet. The Jargon File has been the definitive guide to the online jargon pretty much since there was an environment to create jargon about. You can get the file (The Jargon File 3.0.0) from the Net. It provides a lot of semi-official terms, computer slang, historical facts and even some jokes.

The best review of this book that I know of was written Michiko Kakutani not as review of the book per se, but as her June 27, 2000 NYT's Critic's Notebook column "When the Geeks Get Snide"

As couch potatoes become "mouse potatoes," as teenagers become "screenagers," the once lowly geek has become a cultural icon, studied by the fashionistas of Seventh Avenue and the Nasdaq watchers of Wall Street alike. And as geek chic takes hold of the technology-obsessed culture, geek-speak seeps into everyday language.

Most people now know that "viruses" aren't just germs spread from person to person but malicious programs that can spread overnight from one computer to millions of others around the world. "Spam" is no longer a ham product but a form of computer junk-mail; "toast" refers not to a breakfast choice but to a state of being dead or burned out; and "cookies" aren't fattening, chocolate-chip-studded snacks but tiny files containing information about our computers that can be used by advertisers to track users' online interests and tastes.

Earlier technological developments left their mark on the language. The railroads gave rise to expressions like "going off the rails" and "getting sidetracked"; the steam engine produced "working up a head of steam" and "full steam ahead"; and the automobile left us with "pedal to the metal," "firing on all cylinders" and "eatin' concrete." Not surprisingly, phrases generated by the computer age tend to be more sardonic and pejorative. "Blamestorming" refers to group discussions devoted to the assignment of blame; the acronym "kiss" means "keep it simple stupid"; and "ego-surfing" alludes to Internet searches for one's own name.

So what does cyberslang say about the digerati and the brave new world? As collections of slang found in books like "Jargon Watch" (assembled by Gareth Branwyn), The New Hacker's Dictionary (compiled by Eric S. Raymond) and "Cyberspeak" (by Andy Ihnatko), as well as a host of online slang sites (most notably The Microsoft Lexicon, Netlingo and The Ultimate Silicon Valley Slang Page) readily attest, geek-speak conjures up a chilly, utilitarian world in which people are equated with machines and social Darwinism rules.

Cyberland has been heavily influenced by pop culture and it boasts its share of counterculture phrases drawn from comic books, children's stories, sci-fi movies and New Age movements. "Deep magic" (meaning "an awesomely arcane technique central to a program or system") comes from C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" books; the online abbreviation TTFN (meaning "ta-ta for now") comes from "Winnie the Pooh"; and "fear and loathing" (meaning the state of mind "inspired by the prospect of dealing with certain real-world systems and standards that are totally brain-damaged but ubiquitous") comes, of course, from Hunter S. Thompson.

E-mail abbreviations like "4-ever" and "2B or not 2B" sound like outtakes from a Prince song, while emoticons (those sideways smiley faces like :-) used to indicate a user's feelings) summon visions of Hello-Kitty lunchboxes.

But for all its playful love of puns and cool disdain for "suits," the high-tech world is, at heart, a cruel, unforgiving place ruled by the merciless dynamics of the marketplace. There are multiple terms for success (including "winnage," "winnitude," having an "Elvis year," being "golden" or "on velvet") and an equally large number of terms for failure ("lossage," "lossity," "Big Lose") and stupidity. As the former Wired writer Paulina Borsook points out in her new book "Cyberselfish," the digital community is increasingly a world that mirrors our "winner-take-all, casino society," a community that projects the attitude I've got mine (or certainly intend to if the bureaucrats don't get in my way)," so you don't matter.

In the looking glass world of high tech, writers and artists are known as "content providers," and a "showstopper" refers not to a thrilling tour de force but, as The Microsoft Lexicon notes, to "a function, object or issue important enough to jeopardize a ship date or schedule" -- in other words, "a really big bug." "Evil" doesn't have a moral connotation in cyberland but indicates something "sufficiently mal-designed as to be not worth the bother of dealing with." And "elite" suggests something pirated or stolen.

Cyberland's politics are libertarian, as Ms. Borsook observes; and its presiding muse is Ayn Rand. This is a world with an acronym for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (FUD) and another for "Waste of Money, Brains and Time" (Wombat), a Nietzschean world in which leaders are known as "wizards" or "net.gods," and followers are dismissed as "sheeple." Calling someone a "404" (from the World Wide Web error message, "404 Not Found") means he is clueless or has a high "bozon count," while accusing him of being a "BDU" means he's a "Big Dumb User."

What venerated "alpha geeks" and lowly "smurfs" share is a tendency to talk about people as if they were machines. To be "uninstalled" means being fired or dismissed, whereas a "plug-and-play" refers to a new employee who fits in without any additional training. Doing a "bit flip" means undergoing a disturbing personality change; indulging in "nonlinear behavior" (NLB) means acting irrationally; possessing huge "bandwidth" means having lots of talent or brains.

A "bio-break" refers to a trip to the bathroom, and "client/server action" refers to sex. Stress puppies "ramp up" to cope with added work and "batmobile" -- by putting up defensive emotional shields -- when threatened with unwanted intimacy.

Such language tends to ratify the unflattering stereotype of the computer geek, described in The New Hacker's Dictionary as "withdrawn, relationally incompetent, sexually frustrated and desperately unhappy when not submerged in his or her craft." And while that book's editor, Eric Raymond, observes that such stereotypes are "far less common than mainstream folklore" would have it, he adds that "hackers have relatively little ability to identify emotionally with other people," so accustomed are they to spending hours and hours at the computer keyboard.

It is a view echoed by Ms. Borsook, who writes that techies are uncomfortable "with squishy stuff and the intangible and that which can't be reduced to formulae" or programs.

Indeed geek-speak is flush with disparaging or defensive references to the real world and flesh-and-blood human beings. The nonvirtual world, so much messier than the one on line, is derogatorily referred to as a "carbon community" or "meatspace." Individuals who aren't online are shrugged off as PONA's ("persons of no account"); printed magazines and newspapers, as "treeware" or "dead tree editions." "Analog" is an adjective used to refer to things in the "real world" (defined in "Cyberspeak," as "that which cannot be accessed via a keyboard"), but it's also used to describe things that are sloppy or graceless.

For geeks who prefer "text sex" to physical encounters, e-mail to "facemail," e-commerce to "bricks and mortar" shopping, the human body is nothing but "wetware" -- a fragile, inefficient alternative to the shiny hardware of their computers.

This outlook, Mark Dery notes in his book "Escape Velocity," is reflected in those cyberpunk stories in which the human mind is downloaded into computers and thus liberated from "meat-jail," and cyborgs herald a future in which the body is redefined as a "warmblooded machine."

This cybertopian world would eliminate "PEBCAK" (tech support shorthand for "Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard"), but then it would also eliminate "meatbots" -- or human beings, as they are still currently known.

See also Eric Raymond and the NYT - Internet Info for Real People and his desperate and weak attempt to refute  this brilliant column Don't Tweak the Geeks!

Recommended Links

Neil Franklin's Hackers Jargon File Page -- the best historical page for the file. Thanks a lot Nail !. Has earlier versions including  Version 1, date 82-11-14 (ASCII, 87299 Bytes)  the oldest surviving version

  1. The Jargon File 3.0.0 27 Jul 1993 -- less spoiled by the Open Source evangelist ;-) . The 3.0.0 version, corresponding to the second paper edition from MIT Press. 1961 entries.
  2. Jargon File 3.2.0  -- still OK
  3. Jargon File []
  4. Cool Jargon of the Day
  5. The Jargon Dictionary [] 4.1.4

Alternate Views of the Jargon File.  Many people have used the Jargon File as a test case for different kinds of search and retrieval engines. Here are all the different ways of viewing it that I have URLs for as of January 21 1996 ( Versions 3.0.0 or later)

Eric Raymond's site:

There is also a book. Again I recommend to get as early edition as possible:

The New Hacker's Dictionary ~ Usually ships in 24 hours

    Eric S. Raymond(Compiler) / Paperback / Published 1996

    Amazon Price: $15.60 ~ You Save: $3.90 (20%)


The Original Hacker's Dictionary