We want to hack reality, and we need a lab to reassemble its basic elements. In a metropolis scared by unreal securities and too real fears, we yearn to give birth to a site of full of imageries made flesh, of bytes resurrecting metal. Our collective mind is replete with digital/analog technology, info-communication, knowledge-sharing, meme-spreading, participation-catalysis, and much much more.
The four cardinal points are no longer sufficient coordinates. As Mars is closer to Earth than ever in history, there is no better time for a new reticular constellation, for a new geometry of relations that can freely recompile low-entropy bioware, stunning and getting stunned by vivid special effects and lively affects.
Reload, Hacklab Milano, Sept 14 2003
Among the projects and events hosted by this squatted space is the Creative Media HackLab - a room full of recycled computers given a new lease of live with open source software. Be it flyer, posters, zines, websites, digital video, or radio production, the hacklab facilitates those dissatisfied with the mainstream media to involve themselves in DIY media activism and guerilla interventions.
The hacklab evolved from a handful of old computers found in the streets during the first few months after the rampART was occupied. It became the second such space to be maintained by the London Hacklabs Collective.
During the European Social Forum in 2004, the rampART creative media lab provided a public Indymedia access point while another room was transformed into a radio studio. Open source software (MuSE and the excellent Dynabolic live CD linux distro) was used to provide an Internet stream via Indymedia. The station broadcast independent coverage of the forum produced by people who had been trained to use minidisk recorders and sent out to the ESF and beyond to make their own audio reports or interviews and then edit them in the studio.
After the ESF, the radio station at the rampART continued with local DJs, rappers and poets getting involved. It was still going strong by July 2005 and provided 5 days of live coverage of the G8 mobilisations, getting up-to-the-minute news direct from Indymedia dispatch teams in Scotland via IRC and doing interviews using voice over IP.
RampART radio ran 24/7 from October 2004 to October 2005 when it was temporarily switched off due to bandwidth issues on our community wireless network. Now however the radio is be relaunched since the connectivity issues have been permanently resolved.
This month, the rampART subscribed to a ADSL2 internet service provider providing a theoretical 24MB/s download speed. That's 50 times fast than standard broadband and 1,000 times faster than a dialup modem. In practice the speeds obtained are less than 17MB/s but that's till pretty amazing. Better still, the connection provides a 1.3MB/s upload speed which is ten times faster than we could possible have expected before.
The increased bandwidth enables the rampART hacklab to host websites, online media archives, provide mirrors of online activist resources, reduce the load on other content providers via peer2peer and much much more. As well as enabling the radio stream to go back online it also makes it possible for meetings at the rampART to have live video conferencing link up's with simultaneous gatherings elsewhere in the world. Additionally, combined with the open WRT wifi technology provided by the Mute community wireless network, the rampART could provide a local free to view digital TV station.
The hacklab itself now has eight or more well functioning computers, all 500MHz and above with 17" monitors and not a single bit of micro$oft in sight. About half a dozen or so additional computers plus network cables, monitors, keyboards and other essentials were sent over to the new social centre in Russell Square to help initiate yet another hacklab.
The hacklab provides space to address digital exclusion by providing free access to information technology, training and skill sharing. It is hoped that the facilities can empower people with creative tools for grassroots culture and radical social change.
The computers at the rampART hacklab run a variety of software including Open Office, Scribus (desktop publishing), various graphics programs including Gimp and Inkscape which is a vector graphics app, video editing and VJ'ing with LiVES and kino and associated programs, web development with Mozilla Composer and Nvu. There is now even plush carpet and a cupboard with tea, mugs, a kettle and sometimes even biscuits!
Saturday is drop in day meaning you can be fairly sure that there will be somebody there to from about 1pm. You can get help on using these packages, ask questions, share your skills or just use the internet, check your email or whatever.
Often there are specific workshops arranged and if there is something you would like to learn or offer, you can suggest a new workshop.
The London Hacklabs Collective would like to develope the hacklab is to become a centre of knowledge of free software applications and are now looking for people who know individual applications and if possible their Windoze counterparts. The idea is to be able to show activists and others how to achieve with free software what they are used to doing with Window$ programs.
On the 25th the Hacklabs Collective is putting on a benefit night at the rampART to help cover the cost of the ADSL connection both at the rampART and also at Freedom Book Shop. You can find more details about the event on the rampART website or on the Hacklabs website (see below).
With it's fast internet connection and fileservers, the rampART could provide a useful venue for people to become more involved in indymedia, either performing admin tasks or by utilising techie skills and joining the over stretched development team. If you have java skills, postgres, css or even good old xhtml knowledge then you could really help things move forward. If there is any interest then a local indymedia development server can be installed to make it much easier to work through the imc-uk-tech todo list.
Around the world, hacklabs are striving to put technical tools and skills into the hands of ordinary people to hack reality and fight back against corporate rule.
- rampART http://www.rampart.co.nr
- radio rampART http://www.rampartradio.co.nr (streaming again soon via
- London Hacklabs Collective http://hacklab.org.uk/
- international links http://www.hacklabs.org/index_en.php
p.s. Our internet provider is currently offering a referral incentive scheme. So, if you have been thinking of getting broadband or switching your provider, let us know since not only would we get a months connection free, so would you! We won't name them and give them free advertising here but their deal is pretty good and includes a wifi access point.
hack the lot