Hacking at Random [nl Vierhouten]

Hacking at Random (HAR2009) — International Technology & Security Conference :: August 13-16, 2009 :: near Vierhouten, The Netherlands :: Call for Papers – Deadline: May 1, 2009.

From the ancient days long before the first wayback-machine snapshot, hackers have a track record for appropriating technology that was meant for something completely different and putting it to alternative uses. And every four years since 1989, the international hacker community has descended upon The Netherlands in great numbers for a conference that focuses on contemporary and future issues surrounding technology and its social and political consequences. One reason that these conferences have been successful is the wide range of participants: from students, amateurs and aficionados to researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs who are recognized as some of the best in their respective fields.

The atmosphere is open, friendly and relaxed, the scope of subjects insanely wide, the average level of knowledge high. The venue is always buzzing with energy, ideas and projects. The New York Times described the 1997 edition as ‘Woodstock for Hackers’. We will gladly honor that legacy.

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this event with a new installment: Hacking at Random. HAR wants to offer presentations that feature the joy of hacking. That means hardcore hacking and science for its own sake. HAR is soliciting abstracts from anybody who is interested in giving a talk, in doing a workshop or in otherwise presenting their work.

When this series of conferences started twenty years ago, the net was new and unexplored terrain where only the bold dared to tread, and where legislation and regulation were absent. That has changed. Today, virtually every household in the Western world has access and many analogue services are being relocated to the internet, reinventing themselves while doing so, and thereby simultaneously making internet even more of a commodity and an indispensable part of our daily lives. Internet has become ubiquitous, all pervasive, huge and crowded. Because of this, new questions are becoming increasingly important: questions about governance, sustainability, dying analogue media, ownership of data and content, shortage of IP space and energy, censorship, filtering, data trails, data breaches, security, surveillance – to mention but a few.

As the world is more and more defined in terms of the technology of the internet, the once obscure political freedom-fights that hackers were involved in, have truly reached center stage. The next few years are about defending fundamental freedoms, and we better step to it, because nobody is going to do it for us.


We have chosen three main tracks for HAR: subjects that we think are of prime (future) importance. Of course, not all talks and workshops can be fitted within these tracks, nor is that our intention. If you have an unrelated but interesting project, don’t hesitate to propose it. Actually, the only thing we’ll really be strict in is that _all_ talks and workshops should definitely be interesting and knowledgeable, hopefully be groundbreaking, and possibly, fun. We want to broaden your and our own horizons, so not many restrictions apply – not even our own. And it goes without saying that any other smart weird stuff is fine, provided it makes us go ‘wow!’ That having been said, the three tracks that we have chosen are:

1. Dealing with data (DD)

We live in a society that gorges itself on data. We check and intercept more data and retain them for a longer period, we base individual interventions on statistics, we amass data in centralized, national databases, and more and more, we ‘mislay’ these data and create data breaches. Often, data is used outside its original scope: the 11 million files that the Brits have by now amassed on their children in order to ‘assist’ child welfare, will be open to the police looking for ‘evidence’.

Some courts are however getting fed up. Germany has decided that home computers are indeed private and that the EU data retention law is far too wide in its scope: only when there’s actual suspicion against a person his or her traffic data may be retained. The European court has ruled that the Brits – and hence, other EU countries – cannot keep people’s DNA in a database unless they have been convicted.

In this track, we will discuss cutting edge security aspects as well as their political implications: whose property is a digital trace, should data have a built-in expiry date, how to counteract identity theft, ideas about ‘data hygiene’ and how we can make governmental and company data mining more transparent or more restrained. This track ranges from computer security to hacking ‘safe’ chip cards, from data mining to data breaches, from lawful to unlawful interception, from amassing data to data retention, from freakonomics to numerati.

2. Decentralization (DeCent)

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, most technologies have been moving towards centralization using economies of scale to create profits. The result of large centralized technologies has been concentrated power in the hands of fewer individuals with control over large amounts of cash to pay for expensive factories and infrastructure. Modern organizations like nation-states and multinationals mimic this centralization trend.

Many new technologies however are moving in the opposite direction. Cheap home computers and affordable connectivity to a global (but decentralized) network have made individuals and communities the center of creativity again. Other fields of technology that are decentralizing are energy and manufacturing (think solar and 3d-printing). We’d like to hear cool ideas about what this could mean for all of us and for the societies that we live in. Are 200 euro laptops, wifi and 3d-printers the beginning of the end of multinationals and the nation state? Does the spreading of technology give power to the people, atom bombs to the terrorists, or both? We don’t know what will happen but maybe you do. If so, we’d like to hear from you.

If you have a 3d-printer, a solar powered vehicle or a fusion-powered coffee machine, we’d like you to show your stuff and tell your tale. You will however be asked to leave your nuclear weapons at the entrance.

3. People and politics (PNP)

We live in the proverbial ‘interesting times’: the world is running out of oil, the climate’s all weird, geopolitical power is shifting and decentralization has taken off the gloves. We’d like to think our community holds some small part of the clues needed to understand today’s world. Hackers have traditionally used these events to help others to become better equipped to go out and make some changes in the way the world works.

This event has in the past had a large number of presentations that bridged between technology, activism, digital rights, privacy, politics and citizenship, and this edition will be no different. If your presentation can help others to become more aware or (better) more equipped and more effective in these fields, please tell us.

Again, these ideas are by no means restrictive. If you have a fantastic story to share about agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, about nanocomputing or about biotechnology, please submit your paper. Bear in mind that those attending HAR are technophiles and love talks in which technology – or the politics of technology – is key. Also, if you know of someone whom you think should be present at HAR2009, ask them to submit an abstract, or inform us of their name and subject.

Abstracts should be submitted to our paper submission system on and are due May 1st, 2009.

We will inform you about our acceptance or rejection of your abstract before June 1st, 2009.

General information about HAR2009 can be found on and

Dec 30, 14:35
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