Most of the digital world lives in fear of the dreaded dark-side hackers , Jolt Cola-fueled software scalawags who have succumbed to the dark side of The Force. However, I come not to bury these reprobate hackers but to praise their inventiveness with language. Eric Raymond, the compiler of The Jargon File of hacker slang, has said that although "linguistic invention in most subcultures of the modern West is a halting and largely unconscious process, hackers, by contrast, regard slang formation and use as a game to be played for conscious pleasure." Indeed, some of the best and most useful neologisms of recent vintage were coined in the same dank basements and goatish-smelling bedrooms that witnessed the creation of the myriad digital pathogens that have plagued us in the 2000s.

Before getting to my main theme, let me clear up a thing or two about the word hacker . Raymond uses the word in its positive sense of a software or hardware enthusiast who enjoys exploring the limits of code or machine. However, there's a second, equally valid, sense that refers to someone who breaks into or disrupts computer systems or networks. Purists prefer the term cracker for these digital miscreants and mischief-makers. However, the term "hacker"--which has been in the language since at least the early 1960s--has always had malicious connotations attached to it.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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