Preface to the Fourth Edition

In the five years since the last edition, the hacker culture this dictionary describes has gone through some tremendous and largely positive changes. Linux's breakthrough into the commercial mainstream following the Mozilla release of early 1998 synergized with the continuing explosion of the Internet to change many peoples' assumptions about us. Hacker culture isn't just for hackers any more!

Previous editions of this book, as it turns out, played a subtle but not unimportant role in this change. Your humble editor's experience with TNHD helped develop the visibility and communications skills that he needed to take a very public role in the mainstreaming of ‘open source’ and the hacker culture. More directly, TNHD's admirers turned out to include a lot of journalists and writers who were ready to hear the open-source story — and ready to help tell it — because they liked what they had read here.

The maturation of web search engines and tools like Google has put powerful new tools in lexicographers' hands. We can now rapidly check for live usage on the Web and Usenet. This has enabled us to flush a significant number of dead terms and ringers (never-caught-on personal inventions that got by our filters). This fourth edition, we believe, does a better job of tracking actual live usage than any of its predecessors.

Here are some additions to the list of common and indicative terms given in the Third Edition preface:

ACK, back door, Bad Thing, bit bucket, black art, bletch, bogo-sort, computron, Good Thing koan, misfeature, suit,