AKA: How is a Hacker Con like a handbasket?

Two weeks ago I went to a hacker conference in NYC called “The Last HOPE” (HOPE = Hackers On Planet Earth). As I thought about how I’d write about it here, on my professionally-oriented blog, it seemed a little like a mental puzzle posed by Lewis Carroll: How do I explain how this relates to what I do in my day job?

Well, first of all, I’m not going to spend much time rehasing the old “not all hackers are criminals” spiel. My feeling is that this should already be understood. Like “not all lawyers are crooked” or “not all postal workers are homicidal.” The notorious ones just tend to get more press.

To me, hacking is about pulling stuff apart so you can see how it works and put it back together again, maybe in a way it wasn’t originally intended. Growing up, I was the kind of little girl who was more likely to be playing with an electronics kit, packed with LEDs and transistors, than with dolls. If I was playing with dolls, I was probably deconstructing their outfits so I could figure out how to make them new clothes out of scrap material.

So, I’m sort of surprised that I never attended HOPE before. It’s right here in my backyard, so to speak. There weren’t exactly tracks at the conference, but there were emergent themes to the talks. The primary ones seemed to be: legal & security issues, history of the scene, social engineering, and (my personal favorite) making weird stuff. I’m going to do a series of posts on each of these themes and talk about what I saw and learned.

Well, I don’t think I’ll do a post on Legal & Security Issues, even though that’s probably the subject people associate most with hacker cons. I didn’t see many of the talks in that arena, and it’s the aspect I feel least knowledgeable about. But I’m sure there’re plenty of posts about those panels elsewhere online.

Read more of my posts about The Last HOPE: