The overuse of literal devices…

September 2, 2010 - Programming


The word means something completely different today then it did 14 years ago. One can only guess that it started with some insipid journalist who had the shorthand skills of a gnat trying to wrap their barely lucid brains around concepts being described by a computer geek. Somehow they misquoted “cracker” to mean “hacker”, or, in the more likely case, they weren’t paying attention and they made it all up themselves.

of course, for some reason, everybody who didn’t know better latched into it like a barnacle onto a whale, and suddenly all the various news outlets were reporting “computer news” and using terrible metaphors to describe new technologies.

That is one complete media blow-up and misstatement of definitions that riles me quite a lot. I mean, when somebody dabbles in carpentry, they might “hack” together a cupboard. That’s EXACTLY what the word hack means, regardless of the context- a person who dabbles in programming might hack together a small program. It has nothing to do with what people seem to think it means, which would be breaking into other peoples PCs When did that definition come about? Burglars don’t “hack” into your house, they either pick the lock or use an open window or door. In the same vein, a person wouldn’t “hack” into a computer system, they would either crack the lock (password) or use an open door (vulnerability). Somehow, “hack” has now come up into the entirely new and unrelated definition that used to be “cracking”.

That being said, almost ANYTHING in the media even remotely related to computers is completely ridiculous, and they use so many literal devices that half the time any useful information is buried so deep in metaphor you may as well forget about it.

If you want to use similes and metaphors and synedoche and metonymy with reckless abandon, write a fucking poem. “a file is like a document on your desk” No, a file is like a fucking stream of bytes on a disk. a disk is nothing like a desk, the former is round and coated in magnetic material and data is stored by changing the orientation of magnetic particles whereas the latter is only good for screwing the secretary.

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