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Last weekend I took Kimiko Ishizaka to the greatest geek event I've ever been to

on Sat, 08/10/2013 - 20:29
Observe. Hack. Make. That was the name of the event that drew over 3,000 people to a pasture in northern Holland last week. Every attendee is considered a volunteer, and the atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration is palpable and refreshing. So was the utter concern with the state of privacy, freedom of speech, human rights, and the future of the internet. The conference started off with an address - delivered remotely - by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and it just got better after that. Here's a selection of some of my favorite titles. I wish I could have attended them all:
  • Lockpicking, a primer
  • Introducing Biohacking
  • How To Build A Trading Robot With Open Source Tools
  • How to legalize drugs using only 13 years and 10 million US$
  • Molecular cooking
  • 3D printing and Metal Casting
  • Drupal Commerce and the Bachkoor Holland
  • Finance and The Future Beyond Bitcoin
  • Reports from the Frontlines: The Digital War on Civil Society
  • Tempo/Rhythm Detection and Musical Nearest Neighbors
  • 9 Billion People: an engineering consideration of climate, poverty and justice
  • Open Source Food
  • Modeling and Control of Rotary Winged Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • New Human Interfaces for Music
  • Decoding memory dumps of mobile phones and navigation systems (workshop)
After four full days of such programming, the attendees were ready for some pure geek entertainment, and that's where Kimiko Ishizaka, the Open Goldberg Pianist, came in. The organizers had carefully planned the final concert in the main tent, including having a forklift ready to haul a concert grand piano from the nearest road to the main tent in tent in the middle of the field (imagine a space the size of a small city filled with tents - big ones for the events and individual tents for the people who camped out for four days to attend). With a full crew of volunteer camera, light, and audio technicians on hand, Kimiko played over an hour of Bach and Chopin for nearly 2,000 very enthusiastic hackers. The mood in the tent was electric, with everyone paying rapt attention to the performance, and encouraging Kimiko with multiple standing ovations and hearty cheering. In the video of the performance you can start to hear the shapes and lines of Kimiko's Well-Tempered Clavier, and sense what a fantastic recording of the piece she's going make in 2014. You also get to hear her first ever performance of all 12 Chopin Études op. 10. One particularly magical moment happened when Kimiko finishes the last Bach piece, the Fugue in Eb Minor, and goes straight into a Chopin Prelude, also in Eb Minor. She planned this transition, purposely grouping them together, and the effect is striking.
OHM2013 also coincided with the announcement of Kimiko's "Twelve Tones of Bach" tour, and her ongoing Kickstarter campaign to support the tour. The recording was done under a Creative Commons license in the spirit of Open Source Bach. Many many thanks to Hans de Raad, Paul Krischer, Walter van Holst, Nancy Beers, Etienne Heemskerk, and the many others who made this event possible.