Def Con: Bring in Da Noise

Polly Sprenger| Also by this reporter Page 1 of 1

08:15 AM Jul. 08, 1999 PT

Every year it's the same.

Def Con rolls around, and every media outlet churns out an article citing an "old school" hacker complaining that the "script kiddies" don't have any skills, don't have any respect, and never had to rebuild an Altair with their bare hands.

Here you go: "I've been a hacker since before there were microcomputers," said Chris Tucker, a one-time hacker who is now semi-retired due to arthritis. "I see [Def Con] as an opportunity to act like a mentor, to say 'this is how it should be done, don't give in to the dark side kids.'"

But while the older generation of Def Con attendees is hand-wringing over the fact that "kids these days don't even write their own exploits anymore," the younger generation is busy donning fright wigs and fingernail polish in preparation for another DefCon staple: the raves.

Hackers and raves have gone hand in hand since the industrial music of the '80s gave way to the electronica of the '90s, said The Clone, one of this year's attendees.

"Def Con is a weekend event held from early in the morning until about 10pm," he said. "What's there to do between then and morning? Sleep? Of course not. Going raving is where it's at."

This year's conference coincides with the anniversary party of Candy FactorE, a locale that The Clone said has propelled the Vegas raving scene.

"Two underground scenes combine in one city. What could be better?," he asked.

Brian Fite of HSK, a security-interest site, said that even the music divides the old-timer hackers from the younger generation.

"I came out of hard core punk, the old school," he said. "Now, house music and raves is the 'underground.'"

But if raves is what they come for, raves is what they'll get, Fite said. More than 24 bands and DJs have been invited to perform onstage at Def Con. Their musical genres, listed on the Def Con site, range from industrial to house to jungle to trance.

Brandon Cox, another HSK staffer attending Def Con for the first time, said he expects the difference between the two groups of hackers to be obvious: "All the young guys will be walking around in baggy pants and Adidas', and all the old guys will be wearing Doc Martens and black T-shirts."

The musical performances will be Webcast by Pirate Radio UK, for anyone who wants to experience the music remotely.

Cox, 25, said hackers of his generation are attracted to the techno music both because of its roots in technology and the way it draws together the underground. "I think it was young, outcast kids, looking for a way to fit in," Cox said.

"Maybe it's more that everybody is accepted," said Fite. "A lot of these hip-hop kids dress weird, and accept other, different cultures. Diversity is good for the species."

"There have been rumors of undercover reporters looking for 'hot' sweeps week stories in raves," said "Driz," a Vegas-area raver. "One misinformed story gives off a surprising amount of bad impressions. If there's a trace of something juicy, reporters seem to turn on their hidden cameras and focus on the negativity."

But ravers like Driz can see past the negativity. "There is nothing better when there's a smile on every face, the music is thumpin', everyone's dancing, and the vibes are good!"

Related Wired Links:

The Golden Age of Hacktivism

Beyond HOPE Hacks into Big Time

Hackers Frolic in the Woods

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