‘Behind the Scenes of the Internet’: Participate in a Critical Engineering NETworkshop 5-8 July

Some time ago, I blogged about how the art projects of Critical Engineers Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev give us a provoking window pane on an increasingly technology-mediated world. I’m happy they will be keynoting on Information Influx, a three-day international conference the Institute for Information Law is putting together from 2-4 July in Amsterdam. Moreover, they will be giving another NETworkshop on 5-8 July in Amsterdam, promising no little than a peek ‘Behind the Scenes of the Internet’. There are still about three open slots  for anyone interested in this unique opportunity to join us in building and hacking the net from the ground (or, the command line) up. [UPDATE: the workshop is fully booked.]

During the NETworkshop, participants build the net from scratch, starting with some standard hardware, wires and a clean Linux operating system. Requiring no prior knowledge or expertise, you will gain hands-on experience with networking technologies, uniquely increasing your insight into the networked environment around you. [full description]

Danja and Julian are Critical Engineers, artists interested in the
implications of the technologies around us. They will be presenting
some of their amazing art hacking work at Information Influx,
IViR’s 25th Anniversary Conference from 2-4 July. You might have come across their Handheld Network Intervention Device, the Transparency Grenade:

Or their take on the Snowden revelations, PRISM: The Beacon Frame, a GSM intervention tool that spurred controversy during this years Transmediale in Berlin for intervening with the GSM networks of the German Bundestag (similar to, as it turns out, the NSA had been doing):

There’s loads inspiring projects. Check their work, bio’s and awards out at Julian’s and Danja’s websites.

The beauty of their NETworkshop is that is requires no prior knowledge. Everybody with enthusiasm about building the net is welcome, and will learn to do it from the ground up. So far, about 15 highly diverse folks across ages, gender and backgrounds have signed up: some are working every day on net policy issues in
journalism, politics and business; others not at all, not even close. We are fine in terms of participant quantity and quality, but this announcement is just to give you an opportunity to still sign up in case you’re interested. Just drop me a line!

The workshop will kick-off with a two-hour introduction in the late afternoon of Saturday 5 July, the day after Information Influx ends. Sunday morning 6 July, we will start building. We finish on Tuesday 8 with a fully functioning network. In the meantime, we’ll have ample opportunity to hack, discover and unravel the policy- and social aspects of these technologies, and to learn how to protect ourselves from network surveillance and the lot.

A fee of E 100,-  covers your workshop participation, gear, lunch, club mate and so forth on the three-and-a-half days. Don’t hesitate to mention if that’s too steep, we’ll try and find a solution. The rest of the funding is provided by the fantastic internet4all foundation, that has supported much of my research in the U.S. this academic year.

You only have to bring your laptop, and your adapter of course; we
take care of the rest.

The NETworkshop is a unique opportunity to actually build the net from scratch, from the command line. This approach enables you to actually understand the networked environment creeping into your life at breakneck speed. To grasp the web issues you read about everyday in terms of the technologies involved, to learn hands-on how DNS, SSL, BGP and the lot operate. Supreme interaction with other participants guaranteed.

Three full days is a stretch, of course, but I reckon you will benefit from – and enjoy – the workshop immensely in your everyday life and work going forward.

You know, one day, the internet will turn out to be a pretty big deal. Better take note of G.I. Joe’s final thought, offered at the finale of every episode: ‘now you know, and knowing is half the battle’.

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