“Hacker” is a word that’s been through several phases. Originally it
meant “first-class programmer”; in the mid-eighties people applied it
to talented computer criminals. I gather from the sentences following
that here it means “first-class programmer” again, which is what it
ought to mean. If I’m right about that, this is another overblown
sentence. I know some exceptional programmers. The best is a
Jesuit-trained practicing Catholic, a bibliophile, a lover of Dickens,
in politics a moderate conservative and an intensely responsible
teacher whose labors on behalf of his graduate students exceed those
of any other teacher I’ve ever met. Sure, many good programmers ARE
anti-social nerds. Many aren’t. Sentences like this don’t do much
harm but they make me uneasy; maybe I’m being unfair, but I have the
sneaking suspicion that only people who hardly know any REAL hackers
would write this kind of thing.

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