Preface to the Third Edition

It's five years after the first publication of TNHD, and the Internet seems to be taking over the world. The immense popularity of the World Wide Web has created an exploding demand for Internet services and guides to the Internet's peculiar culture, and Web or Internet-mail addresses now routinely appear on TV and in major print media. The startling success of Linux has made cheap UNIX systems accessible as never before, and the promise of technologies like Java and VRML beckons hackers all over the world to feats of inventiveness that will undoubtedly stand comparison to any in its history.

Curiously, Linux and mass access to the Internet haven't given rise to the huge efflorescence of entirely new jargon one might expect; instead, many existing jargon terms have acquired new spins and become more widely known outside of hackerdom proper. Perhaps this reflects the fact that, startling though their impact on the general public is, the new technologies have so far mostly changed relative costs and scales of activity rather than opening up domains of possibility fundamentally new to the imaginations of hard-core hackers.

Accordingly, this third edition of TNHD mainly deepens rather than broadens the lexicon; there are about a hundred new entries, but many more changes adding new meanings, background, and etymological history. One very notable such addition is divided between the entries for kluge and kludge and may settle in a rather startling way the longstanding culture wars over the spelling of these words.

The culture of hackerdom continues to be a fascinating scene to observe and be part of. One of the most interesting things to watch is how it is responding to the massive wave of popular interest in the Internet, and how popular culture itself is beginning to be subtly reshaped by the technology of the Internet and the culture of the hackers who maintain it. In the age of the “information superhighway” TNHD is more relevant, and more needed, than ever before. The next five years should be very interesting.

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