I was one of the program committee members for the H2K2 conference July 12-14 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. During the conference, I made several presentations and helped manage speakers and other activities. The conference was attended by over 2000 participants.
Hackers are curious, motivated and intelligent people who like to experiment with systems. H2K2 was mostly for computer hackers, who like to experiment with systems involving computers, telephones and networks. "Hacker" doesn't mean the same thing as "criminal," even though some hackers engage in criminal behavior. At H2K2, the focus was on helping hackers to hone their skills, share experiences with each other, and have a great time among people with similar skills and interests.
My teaching and research includes information security, systems administration and programming. As a security expert, systems expert and devoted programmer, I like to think of myself as a hacker. In addition, I possess the curiousity about systems and skepticism for the status quo that is common to many hackers. I believe that nearly all hackers are ethical people with no intention to do harm or commit crimes, yet hackers are often demonized because they are perceived as a threat.