Josephine Bosma on Tue, 16 Sep 1997 21:52:20 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> HIP-text

I don't remember having seen a HIP-report here yet. Here's one from
a scottish website, it appeared heavily cut in a local Edinburgh
paper. I send it mostly for the one little mentioning of nettime
in an interesting, unusual context.



Intro-thing : <An open air internet fair in Holland last week brought
the virtual community together to party. Allan Kelly reports on the
action at hip97.>

It all seemed a bit improbable. We had packed up our laptops and
network hardware, our tents, sleeping bags and camping stove to
travel to hip97 in a field near Amsterdam, for a week under canvas
and on the Internet. For weeks in advance I had been contacting
people across the world, who would be making their own journey with
their own equipment and for their own reasons. For anyone with a slow
dial-up connection, the lure of fast and free 24 hour access to the
Internet from the comfort of their own tent was enough, but meeting
the experts, activists, technophiles and technophobes, enthusiasts,
philosophers and programmers, the sys-admins and the hackers was the
real impetus. The internet community is physically disparate, rich in
rumour and tall tales, and having the opportunity to buy a beer for
someone you have met in a newsgroup or on a chat service seems was
just too good to miss.

We arrived a few days before the event started, to help with the job
of building the huge events tents, the infrastructure for networking
1500 computers across a 2km long campsite with power supplies running
along-side the Ethernet cables, and stocking the bar with beer and
Jolt cola. These first days were very physical, with all the hi-tech
wizardry distilled to chucking cables over trees, zooming around on
quad bikes loaded with expensive equipment and, with the temperature
rising to 39C, jumping in the canal as often as possible.

The network was primarily UTP, a system where network cables plug into
'hubs', like spokes on an electronic wheel. From a single link, hubs
can be daisy-chained to provide more links. As people arrived,
neighbours plugged themselves in, borrowing and lending spare network
cards and cabling. Triumphant cheers echoed across the fields as new
connections went live. The DIY network grew organically so that
eventually some 1500 computers were connected from all around the
campsite, around three times the expected number. With everyone
networked, the sun blazing down and the venue tents built, it was time
to get on with the main events.

The focus for the weekend was split between a full-size circus tent
and an enormous marquee. In the marquee, the bar and information point
operated 24 hours, while hundreds of people swapped tips, wired up
ancient equipment alongside the latest gizmos, and just wandered
around and chatted. The atmosphere here was electric, with web sites
popping up all over, online audio and video streaming from a dozen
sources and improvised programs hacked together with advice shouted
across the room. The same group who had arrived with several trailers
full of old terminals, and sold them for less than 10 each, set up a
computer called HACKME and invited all comers to break into it's
security, providing a focus for a rotating group bent on mayhem and

Elsewhere, in the circus tent and the smaller workshop tent, lectures
and demonstrations on various topics were scheduled. These included
the opening ceremony with video link to the parallel Beyond HOPE
event in New York, practical presentations on smart card
security, ActiveX compared to Java applets, and lectures on the
future of the most over-stretched internet programs and protocols.

The Cypherpunks group gave several packed presentations on PGP, Pretty
Good Privacy, stressing the need for political action on impending
legislation curtailing this most secure of data security schemes.

They traced the history and implications of US legislation which has
reacted to this freely available software by classifying it as
munitions, meaning that export from the US has long been an arms
offence. Exploiting a legal loophole, they ran sessions where printed
copies of the source code were scanned into PCs, proof-read by an
army of young volunteers, and recompiled into legally exported
versions of the code. 'We hope to see PGP key servers running all
over the world within hours of the release,' said one of the group.
They aim to provide complete security for internet communications
from email to banking, freely and publicly to anyone who wants it.
However, laws are being drafted all over the world to stop their

Elsewhere, payphones were hacked to provide free calls, the internet
culturalists NETTIME organised nudist dips in the canal, someone
erected a gravestone with Bill Gates engraved on it. Large ex-army
tents were erected by various groups, with an astronomy lab set up in
one whilst the Web Grrls promoted their feminist perspective in

By Sunday, the event had evolved into a physical mirror of
the internet itself, with international groups working together on
programming projects, providing services and promoting various causes
all over the site.

Finally it was all over, but the collaborative spirit just ran and
ran. Ask a bunch of computer people to move hundreds of crates of soft
drinks across the marquee and into a van, and you get HCTP, the Hip
Coke Transport Protocol. Every crate was a network packet, the wooden
floor boards routing them along a line of grinning nerds. Rop
Gonggrijp stood back for a moment and watched the action. 'Hacking In
Progress!' he yelled,  and we stood and cheered the man who had been
one of the key organisers of a fantastic event.

Thanks to everyone in Holland, and all the happy people from around
the world that made hip97 such a success. In four years time, it'll
all be bigger and better at HAL, Hackers At Large. Well, what else
could we call it - in four years it'll be 2001!


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