While a couple of thousand people spent a lost weekend in Detroit Michigan at Netroots Network 2014, a few thousand crammed themselves into the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City at HopeX, a convention for hackers. Hackers? Really? The reason for the enthusiasm was the agenda with speakers, guests and fascinating workshops and projects. It was the place to be for Jane Hamsher and Kevin Gosztola of FireDogLake.
We went in large part because Daniel Ellsberg, Jessalyn Raddack, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden were all speaking at the event. But I have to give the conference high marks overall; the panels and talks were extremely well coordinated and really interesting. And surprisingly political. [..]
I went there thinking that 50% of the presentations would be extremely technical and go way over my head, but that didn’t happen. Among the programs that I attended:
Barrett Brown and Anonymous: Persecution of Information Activists with Gabriella Coleman, Kevin Gallagher and Brown’s attorney Ahmed Ghappour.
Community Owned and Operated Cellular Networks in Rural America with Peter Bloom and Maka Munoz
Building an Open Source Cellular Network at Burning Man with Johnny Diggz and Willow Brugh
Darkmail: A preview of the new encrypted email program being developed by Ladar Levinson (Lavabit) and Stephen Watt, which will attempt to encrypt metadata
Unmasking a CIA Criminal, Alfreda Frances Bikowsky: A really fascinating presentation by Ray Nowosielski about a largely unknown figure inside the CIA who may have been responsible for epic screw-ups ranging from hoarding data about Al Quada prior to 9/11 to the distorting the truth of the efficacy of torture
SecureDrop: A Wikileaks in Every Newsroom with William Budington, Garrett Robinson and Yan Zhu
When You Are the Adversary: Discussion of the infosec needs of the 99% with Quinn Norton
Biohacking and DIYbiology North of the 45th Parallel with Kevin Chen and Connor Dickie
Codesigning Countersurveillance: Projects of the MIT Civic Media Codesign Studio which develops civic media projects with community-based organizations
Normally I probably wouldn’t got to that many presentations at a conference but by and large they were all really interesting and many dealt with subjects (like building open source cellular networks and biohacking) that I previously knew nothing about.
However, the highlight of the convention was the conversation between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the Pentagon Papers leaker, Danile Ellsberg.