Hackers of the world unite

Hackers of the world unite
Hackers of the world unite 

By Mark Fonseca Rendeiro
Comment is free
13 January 2010

The 26th edition of the world's largest annual hacker conference, 26C3, 
took place in Berlin last week. With about 2,500 attendees, a combined 
total of 9,000 participants worldwide (via live streams), and an array 
of features that no other conference in the world can match, it was very 
much a milestone.

A bit on the word "hacker", as I know the term might be bothering some 
of you. I am not using it in the stereotypical way mainstream society 
often does, to refer to criminal and malicious activity. The hackers I 
am talking about go back to the origins of the word: one who tinkers, 
one who deconstructs out of a natural curiosity about how something 
works and how it could be made to do something it wasn't originally 
intended to do. Such abilities are akin to the skilled locksmith, and do 
not automatically make a hacker a criminal. Unfortunately for many who 
work in mainstream media, the word has been hijacked to be synonymous 
with "electronic evildoer". Yet, like many words that have been used to 
keep minority groups down, hackers are taking the label back.

Announcements such as the GSM encryption crack may have made 
international headlines last month, but something much more significant 
is clear: throughout the world, hackers have come out from their bunkers 
and opened up community spaces. They go by various names (co-working 
spaces, clubhouses, hideouts, space stations) and are a global-scale 
breakthrough for a community that for decades has not always been 
willing or able to go public. By opening up, they've not only gone 
public, but have also opened their doors to anyone curious or interested 
in the world of technology and how things work.

This phenomenon may be bigger than it has ever been, but in some corners 
of the world, it is not altogether new. Groups of German hackers have 
long organised themselves as officially recognised clubs and taken on 
challenges of a technical (or non-technical) nature. In North America, 
the movement has seen its greatest expansion in the past few years, with 
spaces such as NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, Pumping Station: One in Chicago 
and Noisebridge in San Francisco providing a creative space for a 
rapidly growing membership. The hacker space movement includes clubs in 
different parts of Latin America, as well as in South Africa, Israel, 
Iran, Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and 
Australia. Every month, the list gets longer as more groups come forward 
and post their details online at, a central hub and 
wiki for all info about spaces, including how to start one.


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