Mark Fonseca Rendeiro
On February 11th, 2015 my friend Raja Oueis passed away at the age of 27. I was lucky enough to meet Raja at hacker camp (OHM) in 2013. We spent several happy days exploring that crazy carnival of creativity, an event that we always looked back on with fondness. Not long after we were able to meet again, in Amsterdam and at the Hacker congress in Hamburg. Each in person meeting would be a joyous occasion for eating, laughing, thinking out loud and plotting future hanging out oppertunities. It seemed only right, I think for both of us, that we did meet and become friends. One of those classic cases of someone you feel like you always knew from the first moment you speak.
Sadly over the past year, as Raja fought a daunting battle against cancer, our communication would be limited to short conversations online. I convinced myself that there would be time, that despite everything, we would get to sit and talk and drink chai and discuss matters of the heart one last time. Just as it felt meant to be that we would become friends, naturally fate would allow us one more chance to talk til the wee hours of the morning. But time ran out on us. My ticket to Beirut reads March and Raja’s ticket to another dimension seems to have been set for February.
Thankfully, though it is hardly enough, during those happy days camping among some of the kindest and most creative people on the planet, we turned on a microphone and together with many friends and strangers, talked about what we were experiencing and why it was special to us. In this podcast I’ll revisit those moments with Raja. Though his voice is one of many in these recordings, his wonderful answers mean even more to me now. I wish we had left the recorder on for so many more hours and days. But thats not how it works, I suppose. Nevertheless, I consider myself lucky to have known him and I’m pleased to be able to share this little tiny piece of such a larger than life human being.
A video of 5+ minutes is in no way sufficient to explain 5 days of non-stop creativity that was CCC2011. But in an effort to give people who weren’t there a glimpse of this unique event, I present to you a video entry about hacker camp. Note that it comes with no soundtrack other then exactly the audio that was captured with each video snippet. This is because I believe there is no need to try and add to the energy already present in these wonderful and perhaps strange moments. Enjoy!
Half awake having just brushed my teeth, I stumbled back towards my tent, past a few retired green Mig-21 jetfighters when I heard the familiar sound of Portuguese being spoken. I greeted the two gentlemen, and learned they were from a prestigious Portuguese newspaper, attending hacker camp to produce content about open leaks. Open Leaks is a new initiative for facilitating leaks online, created by a former frontman of wikileaks. These two gentlemen were not alone in their quest, as the five days of lectures, workshops, parties, and general randomness went on, I met several mainstream journalists who told me of a similar goal, to write about leaks. Each time I met such journalists, I was compelled to tell them about the scale and breadth of the 3,000+ community attending this event, as well as those who attend virtually. I spoke about the people who build things, the people who take things apart, the people who travel around the world in an effort to use their knowledge to solve problems, and the people who stay home trying to do the same. My big wish by doing so, was to make sure journalists understood that our world is not just about wikileaks and anonymous, though they have surely played a part. Our world is massive and more diverse then perhaps the media is prepared to understand. Our interests and specialties are endless, and worthy of any article or report about this event.
Of course sometimes it is not for any one person to tell someone about this, as they have experience it for themselves. But as the days went on I noticed them sitting with different people, observing different events and random occurrences that so often make up the average day at hacker camp. Walk around and you might stumble upon someone building a tesla coil or a crepe machine, sit in one place and a 6 propellor drone might land next to you. Whatever you choose to do at camp, you would have to be tied up and wrapped in a sleeping bag to not experience a unique energy and overload of creativity. Nothing is impossible here. Nothing is uninteresting here. Everyone has something to offer, whether they know it or not.
And so the Chaos Communication Camp 2011 came and went. Some never wanted it to end. Some needed it to end for their own health . It was exciting, it was tiring. It was inspiring, it was maddening. Whoever you are, journalist or hacker, or even neither, if you were there, you lived one of the most amazing times of your life. Even if you haven’t realized it yet.