MCH2021: An Event We’re Sorry To See Cancelled

Why Europe’s largest hacker event of the year is important to us

It was with sadness that we received the news; the MCH2021 hacker camp which was to be held in August will no longer go ahead. Understandably its organisers are mindful of the pandemic, and though great strides have been made in developing vaccines there remains too much risk in planning a 5000-person event this summer. We understand that cancelling the event was a responsible choice in the circumstances, and we look forward to meeting again when it is safe to do so.

Just What Is A Hacker Anyway?

For those who maybe have never heard of a hacker camp and for whom perhaps the idea of a hacker is one of shady computer criminals, perhaps it’s time for some background. Through the 1950s, the model railroad club at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA served as a meeting point for a varied array of technically inclined students including those who worked on some of the earliest computers, who evolved their own slang. Among it was the word “Hack”, which to them meant “1) something done without constructive end; 2) a project undertaken on bad self-advice; 3) an entropy booster; 4) to produce, or attempt to produce, a hack.” MIT and TMRC alumnus Peter R. Samson writes “I saw this as a term for an unconventional or unorthodox application of technology … “, which forms the basis for how today’s hackers see themselves. Unfortunately over the decades the word has been adopted by the media as a synonym for computer criminals but those who continue to see themselves as the true hackers wear the word with pride; they are the masters of technology and using it in interesting ways, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

So we’re sorry to disappoint the sensationalist media; to visit a hacker camp is not to be surrounded by the shadowy figures in hoodies crouched over their laptops beloved of newspaper stock photographs. Instead the atmosphere is that of a festival, in which some of the most creative masters of technology come together to let their hair down, exchange ideas in the sun, and show off their work in front of people who truly understand it. Where else can you walk from a discussion of encryption law, past a group of people riding down the path on electrified beer crates, drop in on a group researching efficient fermentation technology, take a look at a super-efficient local solar power grid, and learn how to develop your own microprocessor? People from all over the world drop in; space technologists, the people who ensure your banking is secure, roboticists, high-voltage experts, and many more. The party continues through the night, as you ponder the mysteries of quantum physics over a Club-Mate or a beer with a chip designer while the fog-filled air around you is lit up by lasers to the sound of cutting edge electronic dance music. The hacker community performs its relaxation in a manner like no other, and we’re sure to come away with fresh perspectives on the technology you’ll be using in years to come.

Mixing With The People Who Make The Internet

For a sober hosting company such as ProcoliX to admit to gaining inspiration in such an unconventional environment might come as a shock for someone outside the world of technology. It makes more sense though when you consider this: that here is the community that brought us the Internet as we know it, who constantly evolve it, and who find and fix its vulnerabilities. The Linux-based operating systems that power the majority of the world’s servers came from within this group of people, and to be part of the community is to remain at the beating heart of Internet technologies and security. It’s not by accident that ProcoliX is proud to be part of the open-source software world, it allows us to provide our services through technology that has passed the test of some of the most knowledgable people in the business.

So we’ve traced the DNA of the hacker community from the rail enthusiasts of 1950s MIT to a festival field in the Netherlands of the 2020s, but the truth is that the same people with an insatiable curiosity for technology have always been there. The Internet as we know it is their creation, and thus their community is also ours. We look forward to a cold Club-Mate in the sun at the next Dutch hacker camp, when the pandemic is over.