Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference series is sponsored by the hacker magazine 2600: The Hacker Quarterly and typically held at Hotel Pennsylvania, in Manhattan, New York City. Occurring biennially in the summer, there have been eleven conferences to date with the most recent occurring 22–24 July 2016. HOPE features talks, workshops and movie screenings.
HOPE was significantly inspired by the quadrennial Hack-Tic events in the Netherlands which also inspired the annual Chaos Communication Congress (C3) held in Germany. Summercon was also an influential predecessor.
Held 13–14 August 1994 at the Hotel Pennsylvania, the first HOPE conference marked 2600: The Hacker Quarterly's 10th anniversary. Over 1,000 people attended, including speakers from around the world. Access to a 28.8 kbit/s local network was provided. This conference was visited and covered in the second episode of the This American Life radio show.
The 8–10 August 1997 Beyond HOPE conference was held at the Puck Building, in Manhattan, New York City. Attendance doubled, with 2,000 attendees. Bell Technology Group helped to support the hackers. A TAP reunion and a recorded live broadcast of Off the Hook took place. A 10 Mbit/s local network was provided to attendees.
The 14–15 July 2000 HOPE returned to the Hotel Pennsylvania, where subsequent conferences have been held. The conference ran 24 hours a day, bringing in 2,300 attendees. Jello Biafra gave a keynote speech. In a cultural exchange between the punk rock icon/free speech activist and the hacker community, Jello drew connections between the two communities, despite his lack of computer experience. The EFF also raised thousands of dollars. The conference provided a working Ethernet and a T1 link to the internet.
H2K2, 12–14 July 2002, had a theme focused on U.S. Homeland Security Advisory System. H2K2 included two tracks of scheduled speakers, with a third track reserved for last-minute and self-scheduled speakers, a movie room, retrocomputing, musical performances, a State of the World Address by Jello Biafra, keynotes by Aaron McGruder and Siva Vaidhyanathan and discussions on the DMCA and DeCSS. Freedom Downtime premiered on Friday evening (14 July). The conference provided wireless 802.11b coverage and wired Ethernet, an open computer area for access to a 24-hour link to the Internet at "T-1ish" speeds, made available by the DataHaven Project and an internal network.
The Fifth HOPE, 9–11 July 2004, had a theme on propaganda, and commemorated the anniversaries of both the H.O.P.E. conferences and Off the Hook (with a live broadcast of the show from the conference, Beyond H.O.P.E.). Keynotes speakers were Kevin Mitnick, Steve Wozniak, and Jello Biafra. There was also a presentation "members" of the Phone Losers of America who celebrated their tenth-year anniversary. The Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective celebrated its twentieth anniversary at the conference. The conference provided access to a four-layer public network with two T1 lines, plus backup links to the internet via a public terminal cluster, various wired connections, a WiFi network on three floors and a video network.
HOPE Number Six, 21–23 July 2006, included talks from Richard Stallman and Jello Biafra. Kevin Mitnick was scheduled to be at the conference but was unable to appear: while on vacation in Colombia an illness prevented his timely return to the U.S. Hope Number Six had a 100-megabit Internet connection; the conference organizers claimed it was the fastest Internet connection to-date at any U.S. hacker conference. The event's theme was based on the number six and the The Prisoner (a designation shared by the titular "prisoner,"). Notable occurrences:Steve Rambam, a private investigator heading Pallorium, Inc., an online investigative service, was scheduled to lead a panel discussion titled "Privacy is Dead... Get Over It." A few minutes before the start of the panel, Rambam was arrested by the FBI on charges that he unlawfully interfered with an ongoing case Federal prosecutors filed against Albert Santoro, a former Brooklyn assistant New York district attorney indicted in January 2003 on a count of money-laundering.
The charges were eventually dropped and the talk was subsequently held in November 2006, long after the conference.Jello Biafra began his talk by referring to the arrest of Steve Rambam, noting the convention had been more "spook heavy" than usual.
He then announced a "special message" to "any Federal agents that may be in the audience", and mooned the convention.
The "Last HOPE" took place 18–20 July 2008 at the Hotel Pennsylvania. A change from past years was the use of an Internet forum to facilitate community participation in the planning of the event.
The conference name referred to the expectation that this would be the final H.O.P.E. conference due to the scheduled demolition of its venue, the Hotel Pennsylvania. The Save Hotel Pennsylvania Foundation was created to work toward keeping the building from being demolished by its then-new owner, Vornado Realty Trust. The "Next HOPE" was scheduled for Summer 2010. At the closing ceremony it was revealed that the use of the word "last" could also refer to the previous event, or one that had ended (referring to The Last HOPE itself).
Steven Levy gave the keynote address. Kevin Mitnick, Steve Rambam, Jello Biafra, and Adam Savage of MythBusters were featured speakers. Descriptions and audio of the talks can be found at thelasthope.org
The subsequent HOPE convention, "The Next HOPE", took place on 16–18 July 2010. The Next HOPE was held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, as the plans by Vornado to demolish the hotel are on hold.
HOPE Number Nine occurred 13–15 July 2012 at Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan.
Keynote presentations for HOPE Number Nine were given by The Yes Men (with Andy Bichelbaum as principal speaker and Vermin Supreme also participating) and NSA whistleblower William Binney. The primary presenter of a presentation about internet censorship was threatened with termination for a presentation titled “The Internet is for Porn! How High Heels and Fishnet Have Driven Internet Innovation and Information Security”. The presentation was given extensively using a ghost speaker @JK47theweapon, after the MC invited "any hangers on or associates of the law firm of Baker & McKenzie" to speak to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Baker & McKenzie is the law firm of Unisys Netherlands which threatened to terminate its employee by letter for giving a presentation about internet censorship.
HOPE X took place from 18–20 July 2014 at Hotel Pennsylvania. The keynote speakers were Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden; also featured was noted former NSA official and whistleblower Thomas Drake. The theme of the conference was "dissent", and whistle-blowing was a topic of a good number of talks. But the conference also featured critical talks about the state of hackdom, for example Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom spoke about the problems of rockstar martyrdom within the hacker scene and the creation of hacker cult figures (like Snowden, Appelbaum or Assange) by unreflective members of the community or the media.
Notable changes included a massive increase in available bandwidth. Previous conferences had a 50 Mbit connection; HOPE X had a 10 Gbit fibre optic connection provided by Hurricane Electric. This geometric increase in bandwidth made possible live streaming of all conference talks in real time. The Ellsberg/Snowden keynote was seen in over 120 countries. This also was the first year all conference areas were fully connected to the conference network, albeit with the Workshop floor with slightly limited connectivity (a 1 Gbit connection, as compared to the 10 Gbit backbone of the other conference spaces). Five different wireless networks were provided to conference attendees. The hammocks on the mezzanine level, which provided a place for some attendees to sleep if they were unable to procure a place to otherwise do so, were replaced by inflatable furniture in a dedicated "Chill Space" area. Mezzanine space was also explicitly dedicated to attendee meetups in the form of villages, similar to assemblies at Chaos Communication Congresses and villages at hacker camps, specifically "Village Zone A" (primarily a soldering and electronics workshop), "Village Zone B", "Lockpickers Village", and "Noisy Square". Workshop tracks were published in the schedule and the conference took nearly all the hotel's available meeting space.
HOPE XI (The Eleventh HOPE) took place from 22–24 July 2016 at Hotel Pennsylvania. Cory Doctorow was the keynote speaker. Like last time, HOPE XI was provided Internet transit by Hurricane Electric at 111 Eighth Avenue over a fiber connection leased from RCN Corporation. Aruba Networks sponsored 50 wireless access points which were used to provide 3 wireless networks for attendees, two of which were secured with either WPA or PSK, another network for the NOC, and one for the press and speakers.
Network connectivity was fully provided for in all areas, which came into use throughout the conference as many talks were filled to capacity and attendees either watched streams on their own devices or in designated overflow and viewing areas.