[sixties-l] Tribute to Hippie Hacker Holland

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Jul 31 2001 - 17:09:06 EDT

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    Tribute to Hippie Hacker Holland


    By Steve Kettmann
    July 31, 2001

    BERLIN -- Friends of German hacking legend Wau Holland are planning a
    memorial tribute next Friday at the Hackers at Large 2001 gathering in the
    Holland, 49, died Sunday from complications of a stroke he suffered in May.
    A funeral service is planned for Holland's hometown of Marburg in two weeks.
    More than 1,000 people have posted remembrances of the Chaos Computer Club
    co-founder at his website, expressing their regard for the person who never
    stopped challenging others to think creatively.
    "Wau, you were always at least one step ahead of us," reads the text of a
    memorial. "We lament a philosopher, a freethinker, a visionary who
    conceived technology not as an end in itself but as a service for
    communication between people.
    "Full of energy and always alert to the authorities, laws and data
    collectors, you have demonstrated the chances and dangers of the
    information age to many people with through your sometimes radical opinions
    and activities."
    Hollandborn Herwart Holland-Moritzcame up with the idea of the Chaos
    Computer Club 20 years ago in an article he wrote for Berlin's famous
    left-wing newspaper Die Tageszeitung. The idea was to make it easier for
    large numbers of people to get access to the new medium.
    Steffen Wernery, another CCC co-founder, met him two years later when the
    idea started taking shape. Only a few people showed up for the meeting at a
    Hamburg bookstore. But afterward, Wernery and Holland had dinner.
    "He gave me great inspiration," Wernery said. "His way of thinking about
    computers, using them in a public way, was something very unusual at that
    time. Only big companies were choosing computers then. No individuals had
    "His idea was that we could use computers for human rights. He had the
    opinion we could use computers to make things transparent and to give power
    to the people. This philosophy interested me."
    Holland, bearded and balding, never turned his back on the style or the
    principles that shaped the protest movement of his generation.
    "He always remembered the hippie times," said veteran journalist Detlef
    Borchers, a contributor to the weekly Die Zeit and other publications. "He
    always wore overalls. In the early times of student revolution, it was to
    denote that students were on the workers' side of the movement. And he went
    through all these years, wearing these old-fashioned clothes."
    Holland had strong ideas about how computers could be used, and how not to
    use them.
    He thought a hack should have an idea behind it, even a moral purpose.
    "He had political and philosophical ideas, and I offered my ability to
    organize," Wernery said.
    Even the first famous CCC hack never would have happened had the German
    postal and telecommunications authority heeded Holland's and Wernery's
    warning that they had found a security hole in the Btx network. To make
    their point, the pair hacked into the system using the password of the
    Hamburg savings bank and ran up the equivalent of roughly US$50,000 in
    credit to the CCC account. Then they went to the media with the story,
    which caused a major stir in West Germany.
    "Way back in the 1980s, we had a monopoly here with the German Post being a
    very state-governed organization and a very strict one," Borchers said.
    "In those times, I had my first acoustic coupler, and you had to have a
    permit for it. To get that, you had to send in your passport, and a letter
    from another person guaranteeing you are a nice guy and so forth.
    In those early times, communication was not free at all."
    Holland worked to change that, Borchers said.
    "In his view, every kind of communication was a liberator of the people to
    get their voice heard," he said. "So he was a technophile with a sense of
    politics. That was missing at those times in Germany. Die Tageszeitung and
    the German political scene were very suspicious of computers.
    "The Chaos Computer Club had an understanding of being a political
    organization in the fight against the mighty German Bundespost, the yellow
    monster. In these times, thinking about breaking into other computers was
    also breaking the monopoly of the Bundespost, so it had a political voice."
    But Holland also tried not to take himself too seriously. Borchers recalled
    Holland's television appearances from the early days of the CCC as
    presenting "a very funny image of a hacker" that was dramatically different
    than how people in the United States saw hackers at the time.
    "He was always sort of playful," said Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti, a
    writer for the German webzine Telepolis who once had Holland pose on a
    police boat in Hamburg.
    "He was not very much concerned about traditional behavior. He liked to
    provoke and he always tried to look at things from a different angle,"
    Schulzki-Haddouti said. "He didn't care whether people followed him or not.
    He just said it, and you either followed him or you didn't; and if you
    didn't, it was your fault."
    Whereas other early leaders of the CCC went on to build personal fortunes,
    Holland lived simply. In recent years he was working with young people in
    the former East German city of Jena.
    "He played a very important role in the German Internet scene,"
    Schulzki-Haddouti said. "But in my opinion, it's sad that he couldn't
    establish his role in a bit more of an institutional way. But maybe he
    didn't want it. In America you find many people who founded things like the
    Chaos Computer Club, and go to conferences, and have a nice office and so
    forth. He didn't have this at all. He had to struggle hard for a living."
    Added Borchers: "Wau Holland always lived on the alternative side. He
    remained uncompromised. They don't even have money to make a good funeral.
    They are collecting money."
    But Holland always attracted a wide circle of friends and admirers. Doctors
    at the hospital in Bielefeld where he spent his last two months in a coma
    told visitors they had never seen so many people maintaining a vigil for a
    patient in a coma.
    "I would say he was more a poet," Schulzki-Haddouti said. "He was a sort of
    living archive of the German Internet scene. He could remember every event,
    and how every idea came from every idea before. It's a very serious loss. I
    doubt whether there's anybody else who knows the soul of the German
    Internet scene so well as he did."

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