OHM2013. Observe, Hack, Make

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OHM2013. Observe, Hack, Make. A five day outdoor international camping festival for hackers and makers, and those with an inquisitive mind. On 31st July 2013, 3000 of those minds will descend upon on an unassuming patch of land, at the Geestmerambacht festival grounds, 30km north of Amsterdam.

About OHM2013

OHM2013 – Observe. Hack. Make. is a 5-day international outdoor technology and security conference. OHM2013 is currently requesting proposals for content.

A motley bunch of around 3000 hackers, free-thinkers, philosophers, activists, geeks, scientists, artists, creative minds and others will convene from all over the world for this informal meeting of minds to contemplate, reflect, share, criticize, look ahead, code, build, and more.

An otherwise unassuming stretch of land, just 30km (20mi) North of Amsterdam, will be transformed into a colourful oasis of light providing a backdrop for this unique event. It is an immersive experience, with an emphasis on interaction.

The four-yearly Dutch hacker camps provide a very open, friendly and relaxed atmosphere, with a high level of knowledge. The campsite is buzzing with energy, ideas and projects, not least because people from various backgrounds are interacting. It is a non-commercial community event where every visitor is also a volunteer.


OHM 2013 is the 7th edition in this line of events. The seed for these events sprouted in the late 80’s hacker community embodied by ‘Hippies from Hell’ and the journal for techno-anarchists ‘Hack-tic’.

In 1989 the Galactic Hacker Party was held at Paradiso, a public forum in Amsterdam. This indoor event brought together pioneers at the frontiers of the internet to revel in the upcoming revolution, but also to be critical of the power structures governing the then infant internet and its impact on society.

In 1993, four years later, Hacking at the End of the Universe was the first open-air event in the series. Several hundred hackers set up camp in the outdoors. While the internet was still not something many people had at home, the whole campsite was already connected.

The landscape has changed much since 1989. New trends raise questions of security, governance, sustainability and identity. The notion of hacking – to use something in a creative way, not thought of when it was first invented – has long spread to fields outside of Information Technology. The concepts of open source and open standards are now commonplace.

At the same time, society is more and more dependent on technology. Blind faith in ICT in particular leads to erosion of democratic principles and human rights. Society increasingly depends on hackers to act as its conscience on these matters.

Now nearly every household has a connection to the internet, it is also becoming a conduit for click-to-manufacture designs. Hackers expand their focus towards “manufacturing at home” collaboration projects using home-built 3D printers, CNC-machines and laser cutters. A necessity as current economic models are collapsing, both on the macro as well as the micro scale. The post-industrial global society is on the verge of depleting both its financial capital as well as its natural resources. Logistic chains feeding the factories that produce all our gadgets and even our food span multiple continents. Despite the global scale, those chains are fragile. When energy is becoming sparse, the global transport routes will fail to be economically feasible.

Hackers can apply their critical curiosity and creativity to bring about methods to cope with the upcoming changes. By building, for example, resilient means of electronic communication to ease the transition to an era where cheap Chinese gadgets and Japanese electronics can no longer be taken for granted and by arming society against authorities taking mobile telephony and the internet offline in times of crisis. But perhaps even more important is going back to the basics of production itself. Traditional crafts may become a matter of survival when factories sourcing raw materials from far away are a thing of the past.