While it is true that many hackers have many different reasons to hack, most of the time it is simple curiosity and a desire for knowledge. This type of knowledge is something that can only be gained from sitting down and trying things with no other intent than to gain a better understanding of something. This is the reason that most hackers hack. Certainly, there are other reasons, it would be naive to say otherwise, but hackers who have intent to harm others or do damage are very much frowned upon by the majority of hackers. A few “bad” hackers may have done some bad things, but the large majority of hackers (easily more than 99%) are good people who have an intellectual curiosity that cannot be taught in any school because only the hackers themselves can even understand the question. It has to be experienced and self-taught.
This leads to the idea of how the hacker community gets a “bad rap”. Just like in any other community, there are “bad” hackers. These are in the minority, but the mass media only becomes interested in sensationalizing these stories of hackers doing bad things. Hackers helped form the internet and the computer industry as we know it! Hackers have written operating systems, stormed forward with the open source software movement, fought for privacy and digital rights, and many other positive contributions to society. More people should be made aware of the good that hackers do. There are bad policemen, bad reporters, bad judges, bad congress people, and unfortunately, bad hackers. But why does the term hacker get thrown under the bus as though *ALL* hackers are bad? Not all policemen are bad. Not all congress people are bad. Not all reporters are bad. Why is the myth perpetuated that all hackers are bad? A criminal with a computer is a criminal first and foremost.
(thanks to Stankdawg of Binary Revolution)