5 years of being involved with the Chaos Communication Congress here in Berlin, and one thing that never changes, yet always surprises me, is the tremendous boost this entire event gives me. The inspiration to move forward in an exciting way, the ideas to try something new, the encouragement that I am on the right track; this magical hacker community has very much become like a family.
It is a family that only gets together once or twice per year, but it is a family that makes sure that meeting is an unforgettable one. A mix of faces and names that I don’t always know, yet it never takes long for me to understand and learn from them. They thank me for bringing them some bit of wisdom or information, yet it is I that am thanking them in my own mind throughout this experience.
The city of Berlin is very special to me, for in the time I have come to know what my mission is in this life, this city was the backdrop for some of the most pivotal moments. This city, my friends who live in it, and the friends who arrive around this time each year, perhaps without even ever having intended it, have helped shape my unconventional approach to work, travel, and beyond.
For that, as I’ve said so many times before, I salute all my good friends from this congress and from past congresses. I also look forward to many more with you!
Greetings from a very snow covered Berlin, Germany. Tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th of December, I’ll be giving a talk here at the world’s most infamous hacker congress, the 27C3. It is my fifth talk in five years and I’m excited to have had a run this long. I’m especially pleased to be talking about a topic that is so often on my mind, my experience working in Afghanistan. Specifically my talk is entitled: Adventures in Mapping Afghanistan Elections, The story of 3 Ushahidi mapping and reporting projects.
A week after the 26th Chaos Communication Congress and I find myself looking back at the issues, the people, the presentations, the ideas.. everything that was being thrown around and shared during that amazing gathering of hackers from around the world. I sit at the computer working on a larger write-up about the hackerspace movement, which has taken root not only in the west, but on every continent in more countries than I ever believed possible.
Besides all the great ideas and the very talented and fun individuals taking part in this event, what I find most interesting is that whether it be through annual events or permanent creative spaces, this community feels more and more open and engaged with other communities in society. From science, to art, to politics, or history… the list of intersection and cooperation with the hacking community continues to grow. A development which I would describe as positive when compared to being an isolated, ignored, or intimidated group of thinkers.
For the past 4 years I’ve wandered around these congresses and marveled at everything around me. Above all at how much individuals can create together, without a profit motive, out of sheer interest and curiosity (and maybe some bragging rights). They take this massive bland building, and they make it into a living, breathing organism that functions in a very efficient and exciting manner.
Looking at all the banners and listening to all the languages being spoken, it seems more clear than ever that hackers have entered a new era where they are not afraid of being judged, and will not be shamed because of their interests and abilities. It begins perhaps, as it has for many minority groups in history, with taking back their word that was twisted into something derogatory – hacker. And it continues with the establishment of creative spaces, all over the world, where people can meet and work on their projects.
It’s safe to conclude that at 26C3 last week, I was watching history be made…. again.
In the public perception battle between hackers and the media, it is the hackers that have long been painted as criminals and dangers to society. However I now know of at least one area of the world where this is not the case, and the hacker community has remained creative, vibrant, and growing. Tim Pritlove of the world famous CCC was in Amsterdam this weekend, and this podcast features an interview with him on the topics of hacking, freedom, the CCC, and the future of the world in relation to access to technology.