A Quick Report from HOPE-X

Several of us attended HOPE-X (aka, the tenth Hackers on Planet Earth conference) this year. Of course, the main highlights of the conference were interviews with Daniel Ellsberg, and Edward Snowden (including a segment where Ellsberg and Snowden were interviewing each other).

Of course, there were plenty of other talks to see. Ladar Levison talked about the National Security Letter that led him to close Lavabit. Nick Merrill talked about fighting a national security letter while serving as president of Calyx Internet Access. (Ladar is currently working on a project called Dark Mail and Nick’s latest project is the Calyx Institute — both are worth checking out.)

There was a talk dedicated to making musical instruments out of scrap computer parts, and another dedicated to art as a vehicle for commenting on mass surveillance (see Surveillance Camera Man, and the Surveillance Camera Players’ production of 1984). Kevin Gallagher spoke about his work with the Free Barret Brown campaign, and folks from #nycmeshnet told us how they set up a mesh network in New York City.

People learned to solder, and took Amateur radio exams. A panel demonstrated social engineering by making calls to the National Security Agency. Folks played games on an Atari 2600 and tinkered with old Apple computers provided by Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists.

And that’s HOPE in a nutshell: a collection of hackers, makers, and activists getting together to teach, learn, share, and have fun. A great place to be if you’re a Pirate.

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