http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,46013,00.html By Steve Kettmann 2:42 p.m. Aug. 10, 2001 PDT ENSCHEDE, Netherlands -- The friends and admirers who memorialized legendary German hacker Wau Holland on Friday did their best not to turn the man into a saint. That would be too boring. Instead, the mostly awestruck, mostly young crowd of 200 that gathered at the Hackers at Large 2001 hackfest were reminded that even storied figures such as the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) co-founder have surprising sides to their personalities. "He always had a screwdriver with him," remembered longtime hacker Tim Pritlove. "If you asked him why he had a screwdriver, he said, 'Well, I might have to make a phone call.' ... We considered Wau to be a true hacker. I think there's a lot to learn from him." Just what that lesson was and is remains somewhat elusive, which may be the case whenever it comes to being taught hard lessons. "If you are so far ahead of the people around you, sometimes the other people get lost," Pritlove said. "That happened a lot with Wau.... He said 'Wauland is everywhere.' We are still trying to figure out what that meant. Often we did not understand him." Holland -- Herwart Holland-Moritz, known to one and all as Wau -- co-founded the CCC just under 20 years ago and had, in recent years, become a sort of elder statesman of the European hacking scene. He died late last month of complications from a stroke. Funeral services are planned for Aug. 31, but given his ties to hacker events like this one, last night's memorial was an eagerly awaited event. Holland was a man remembered by many as someone who would give you his opinions, even if those opinions were liable to be hard for you to take. And yet he was also a character who inspired great affection and devotion. Maybe it had to do with his appearance, which earned him the name "Maulwurf" -- German for "mole" -- back when he was a university student. Ursel Reichhardt, who met Holland when they were university students in Marburg studying mathematics, explained where the name "Wau" came from. "Everyone called him Maulwurf, because that was how he looked," she said, smiling gently for emphasis. "And it is also another word for a spy, a kind of underground agent. So when he wanted a name for the computer, he took three letters from that -- W, A and U." She remembered his impish enthusiasm, which he showed off when they met. A teacher in a crowded classroom said they all needed to team up; and Holland elbowed his way across the entire room, said hello to Reichhardt, and announced "We are a team." The friendship lasted nearly three decades. "He was a friend I could always count on when I had a problem," she said. "He was there and helped." Gerriet Hellwig, a longtime Holland associate, was one of many who reminded the group that Wau would not have wanted hangdog looks. He would want people to raise a "white beer" in his honor and head off cheerful and argumentative. Some of the people in the crowd who gave recollections about Holland talked of the many times he would be traveling and show up unannounced in town, needing a place to stay and to, of course, hold court. "He could easily have been a millionaire but he chose to live like a wandering monk, travelling to see people he wanted to speak to," said Hellwig. Holland's death at age 49 has reverberated widely, and not just to members of the CCC, which Holland co-founded after dreaming up the idea in an article for Berlin's left-wing Tageszeitung. To many, the passing of the balding, bearded, tough-minded, lifelong hippie represents the passing not just of their own youth, but of the youth and innocence of the hacking movement. As recently as the CCC's winter congress in Berlin two years ago, Holland was a robust presence. And more recently, he spent his time working with young East Germans in Jena. But Holland also embodied the early days as no one else could, days of government monopolies on telecommunications so intense that they required a special permit in Germany just to own an acoustic coupler. Twenty years ago, Holland was thinking about what the world would look like when anyone could have access to a computer and telecommunications links and could connect with other people around the world. To him, that mostly meant letting people's voices be heard, whether they were powerful or not, eloquent or not. Andy Mueller-Maguhn, ICANNs European representative and a CCC leader, said that the CCC and its philosophies are two of Holland's major legacies. "He once said 'We must respect the rights of the dissenters, even though they might be idiotic or harmful,'.... He said, 'We have to pay attention.'" "Today that might sound boring. But if you take it in all its meaning, that was the core of Wau. He knew the planet was full of people who had fear and did not understand the new technology." - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Aug 11 2001 - 05:25:25 PDT