Hacker Camps Are Back. To Get You In The Mood, Here’s A Story From 1997

The past couple of years of the COVID pandemic have been rough in some unexpected ways, and it’s clear that our world will never be quite the same as it was beforehand. In our community, the hackerspaces are open again, and while the pandemic hasn’t gone away this year shows the promise of hosting the first major hacker camps to be held since 2019. We’re sure a number of you will be making your way to them. To give a taste of what is to come we’ve got a rare glimpse into hacker camps past.

The Netherlands events are held every four years outside pandemic disruptions, and we’re going back as far as 1997 for HIP, or Hacking In Progress, where [Christine Karman] kept a daily diary of the event. 25 years later it’s both a familiar account of a hacker camp and an interesting glimpse into a time when for much of the wider population an Internet connection was still a novelty.

With the WWW being such an integral part of our lives here in 2022 it’s easy to forget how much interest there was in the 1990s about the cultural possibilities of the new medium, and some of this comes through in the diary. There’s an elusive and probably fictional hacker called [Parsec], whose eventual denouement is very much redolent of that age, and it captures the sense of excitement that surrounded the 1990s Internet very well.

Meanwhile, the technology involved, Windows 95 laptops without any firewall, PCMCIA Thinwire network cards, and Internet kiosk public terminals operated by a telephone company, could only have been from that time. If you’d like to wallow in a little nostalgia, this is for you.

As a Hackaday scribe who had the chance to visit HIP and who turned it down because it didn’t seem to have enough hardware content, not for the first time there’s an element of kicking oneself in reading it. Robot Wars and a 1960 Triumph Herald gave me a lot of fun back in the ’90s, but with hindsight, I should have made the trip across the North Sea with my friends. To make up for that, alongside a number of smaller events this summer will see EMF and MCH in Europe, and for Americans, there will be Toorcamp and Defcon. Perhaps we’ll see you at some of them!

Thanks [Bas] for the tip!

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