After reading about this whole hacker logo thing, I began wondering whether It would be something I would like to display, in support of a culture I aspire to one day be a part of. Of course, I had never heard of The Game of Life before now (though it’s cool) which just goes to reinforce my underlying gut instinct of how little I really know (but I’m learning!).
Anyway, I branched out a bit from that part of Eric’s site, and read the How To Become A Hacker FAQ. Most of that was cool, and I do a lot of it already just because it’s fun (e.g. working with Linux, hacking on PSG, etc.). Then I saw this part:
The only reputation you’ll make doing any of these things is as a twit. Hackers have long memories â it could take you years to live your early blunders down enough to be accepted.
The problem with screen names or handles deserves some amplification. Concealing your identity behind a handle is a juvenile and silly behavior characteristic of crackers, warez d00dz, and other lower life forms. Hackers don’t do this; they’re proud of what they do and want it associated with their real names. So if you have a handle, drop it. In the hacker culture it will only mark you as a loser.
I tend to go by the pseudonym tekniklr, but not to hide my actual identity – I keep that available for any that care. I mean, even my domain name is my real name (although that is because I think it’s silly to have a really cool domain name end up being a personal site). I fill in my real name in all online correspondance, and attach it to all programs I work on.
So is it really that wrong that I prefer to use my pseudonym as a login where apropriate? The pseudonym is personalized, unique (how many other ‘esr’s do you think there are?), and permanent. If I were to (perish the thought) get married, my real name would likely change, invalidating logins on Unix boxen and forums around the Internet, and quite possibly making it very hard to find me, if one was looking at older software. So, in that case, by using my real name I would effectively be hiding my identity in the future.
Of course, to make life easier I’d probably opt against changing my name just so my domain name needn’t be changed, but that’s me and I’m not like most people (I hope). I think I’m just really attached to the nick ‘tekniklr’ now, and training my fingers to type a new login would take quite a long time. :)
Heh, I’m probably just looking too deeply into this, afterall ESR’s own definition of handle in a negative sense stresses the whole grandiose part- he may just be referring to handles like ‘SuPreMeGoRdofEEEvul’.
Anyway, as for the logo- I don’t think I’ll display it. I admit I think the idea is cool, but I also think it will be used mostly by people like me- people who want to be hackers, but aren’t yet. I may be wrong, but I see it becoming a badge of ‘1337’, like the term ‘h4x0r’.
For now I’ll stick with the penguins, as I feel quite a bit more qualified to wear that badge. I think I’ll also stick with my handle, as I like it quite a bit. ESR may try, but he’s not quite the be-all and end-all of hacker culture yet. Anyway, I know at least a few very talented programmers who go by interesting pseudonyms (there’s even a ‘Lord’ in there). Maybe it’s just a generation gap beginning to show.