This book is about the people known as 'computer hackers'. The concept of the 'hacker' has changed since its inception, and it is now widely applied to a group of people very different from those who first called themselves hackers. It is hackers in their original incarnation who are my subjects.
My analysis of the hacker community is informed largely by the work of A.P.Cohen (1985), in which a community is defined by the symbolic boundaries built around it. I consider that Cohen's method is the most suitable for the bounding and analysis of a community which is difficult to define in any other way.
However, the hacker community is unlike most which have been studied by ethnographers, is not confined to one locality. Thus consideration must be given to methods which have been applied to other groups which are not so confined. The problem is that those methods do not apply satisfactorily to the hacker community.
I argue that hackers are members of a world-wide community different from any other and, therefore, that an examination of them is not only useful ethnographically, but can also raise questions about the methods of analysing such groups.