At the closing ceremony of What The Hack Rop Gonggrijp reflected on the event. He opened by congratulating the 1500+ attendants: “We pulled it off!”. It had not been easy to organise the event, partly because of misconceptions about the relation of hackers to society. These hackers are not anti-social, they just tune to different social conventions (like everybody tries to express his identity). It is true that the gender bias is very male, and the dress code is vagabond style, but most of them are very capable of functioning in social situations. In fact, I have never seen an event on this scale organised by volunteers, and the feeling of community, sharing and collaboration is just tremendous. As one person noted: “This is the only place were I can leave my notebook computer on a table in the bar, and expect to find it back the following morning”. These people’s identities are skills based, not asset or power based. They are hunters, more than farmers.
As this is the 5th event like this in a row, we see a more mature community. The people attending are of all ages. They still look like bums, but that is because they are among themselves. In their day jobs they could be professional programmers, or security consultants, and some are quite successful at that, judging from the cars in the parking lot.
The final image I have of the event is of Rop, as he stepped down from the stage, and was hugged by his wife and children who were on the front row. All these people have families who take pride in the fact that their loved ones are living out their purpose in life. At least I felt that way when I got home.