Posted on August 22, 2018

Bornhack is a hacker camp inspired by the Chaos Communication Camp that takes place on Bornholm, a rocky island in the Baltic that improbably still belongs to Denmark. The camp consists of a bunch of hackers sitting in tents and holding presentations for each other. Bornhack has been held since 2016, but I had been prevented from attending the first two years. This year, I was dead set on attending, even though it entailed missing a symphonic orchestra playing video game music.

I bought an extremely cheap tent (About 10€) and an only slightly more expensive self-inflating sleeping pad. This would turn out to be a mistake - when we were struck by a brief rainstorm on the second day, the stress of worrying about whether the tent would remain intact far outweighed the savings. Further, I barely got any sleep the first two nights, as my body did not adjust easily to such poor conditions. I function poorly on a sleep deficit, so I would likely have returned home prematurely had body not finally accepted that this was the new reality. (Bornhack also rents out shared cottages, which I might take advantage of next year.)

Bornhack is organised into villages. This is apparently a common term at hacking camps, but it is not something my friends and I were familiar with, and we thought they were a quasi-mandatory level of organisation. As a result, we ended up creating our own three-man village, complete with a rickety pavilion (which became a half-height pavilion after a storm broke the legs off), dangling power cords, and an absence of artificial lighting. During the evenings, we either sat hacking in the dark, or leeched on the light of more competently run villages, like some form of techno-vampire.

As mentioned above, Bornhack hosts a fairly large collection of technical presentations. Most of these were on networks, security, or general paranoia, none of which are among my core interests. However, I did manage to give a decent talk on Futhark, and Niels gave an amazing presentation on OpenBanko. A presentation on contributing to Debian also motivated me to try to get Futhark included in Debian. All of the presentations were streamed live and are now available on YouTube (where the presenter consented). I was very impressed with the video team - they really knew what they were doing.

Overall, Bornhack was great fun. I talked to interesting people, saw cool talks, and got some hacking done on my own (in Go, but that is a different story). I will definitely try to attend again next year.