Dawn is breaking over last day of the annual Chaos Communication
Congress in Hamburg, Germany. CCC is the meeting of the Chaos Computer
Club (also CCC), a group of German hackers hanging out together
since 1981. Congress (as it is also known) is one of the great
gatherings of tribes in the hacker world — which, in the time it has
existed, has gone from being a tiny, sometimes gothy and mathematically
inclined subculture to being a big, elitist community whose work,
values, and aesthetics touch the lives of billions of people. CCC has
grown and flowered with the community.
The mad and beautiful landscape of the conference this year covers four
floors of a Hamburg conference center like and electrical/human forest
undergrowth. The topics range as wildly as technology itself. Sessions
include the mathematics of factoring (cracking) RSA encryption, the
state of the surveillance state in Russia, SCADA vulnerabilities, often
in critical infrastructure, Romantic poets, and massively hacking
tamagotchis. The halls and "assembly" areas for affinity groups all full
of the interests of hacker culture: coding tables, hackerspaces,
lockpicking, blinky lights, food hacking, etc. The undercurrents and
background noise of the conference saturate in the hallway track. Legal
crackdowns and the rising surveillance states crowd on in on us from
outside, old fights over misogyny, sex and violence, and exclusion
riddle the event from within. And through it, also the revitalization of
friendships that are, in some cases, four days wide but decades deep.
The starts and ends of countless projects, some of which will amuse us
all, some fail, and others that will in time shape the world.
The hacker community that comes together at CCC is an extraordinary
thing, physical and ethereal, a communion of wizards and fools, often
trading roles through the day.
This year's theme is Not My Department, ominously lifted from Tom
Lehrer's song about Wernher von Braun and the nuclear age. It's a
self-conscious choice, a sign of growing awareness that this community
is poised to sit in a position of strange power in the 21st century —
without yet knowing what kind of ethics should accompany that position.
A nest of geeks whose real-world influence has grown out of all
proportion in the last 30 years, these hackers, coders, and makers are
struggling with the weird machine they have created in the heart of the
ONCE-THE.ROCKETS/ARE-UP..WHO>CARES-WHERE.THEY/COME-DOWN. THAT'S N.O-T/MY-D/E.PA/R.T-ME-N-T. 2.9-C/3