[ISN] Remembering a Hacker's Hacker

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Aug 10 2001 - 23:35:25 PDT

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    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
    Ursel Reichhardt, who met Holland when they were university students
    in Marburg studying mathematics, explained where the name "Wau" came
    "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
    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
    "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
    "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."
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