HOPE 2020 UPDATE

While we all want things to go back to normal, the science just doesn’t make that possible. July and August may still seem far away, but there simply is no way the COVID-19 crisis will be over by then, even in the best-case scenario. We had planned on waiting until June to make a final decision, but it’s become clear that planning an in-person conference simply wouldn’t be the responsible thing to do. Nothing matters more than the health and safety of our attendees. Yes, this will be a financial kick in the teeth for us. But it’s one we’ll willingly take as the mere possibility of putting any of you at risk is unconscionable.

We want to be clear on one important point. Apart from the obvious disappointment of not being able to host this historic event at a new venue we were so looking forward to, we want everyone to come out of this not feeling dissatisfaction beyond that. More on that later.

This is what we’re now looking at:

We are NOT canceling HOPE. Instead, we are changing what this year’s HOPE will be.

HOPE 2020 will now be a NINE DAY EVENT, beginning on Saturday, July 25th and running until Sunday, August 2nd, 2020. Why did we add an entire week? Because we want some good to come out of this and we believe our community is in a position to do just that. We all know what we WON’T have without a physical conference, but let’s now focus on what we CAN have with some imagination and collaboration. That’s what the hacker community is all about.

We intend to have around the same number of talks as we normally do, but spread out over a much longer period and available for viewing on a high capacity stream. Those of you who bought tickets will have exclusive access to the presenters so you can ask questions, participate in workshops, and interact with other conference attendees. In addition, you will also receive a conference t-shirt and badge that won’t ever be made available to anyone else.

We plan on having NINE keynote speakers, again with exclusive Q&A access for our attendees.

Participation in HOPE will no longer be bound by visas and worries of arrest by certain controversial types. So expect a dynamic and varied cast of characters. It wouldn’t be HOPE without that, but now we can REALLY remove some barriers.

In addition to ongoing talks and panels, we’ll also have workshops for the duration of the nine day event. Expect everything from lockpicking to soldering instruction to our infamous ham radio exams.

For the overnight hours, we’re planning on having concerts, DJs, and other fun stuff. HOPE will remain a 24 hour event, but for nine days!

All of this has been – and will continue to be – a daunting task. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us in varying ways. The continued survival of 2600 was quickly put into doubt as our distributors stopped paying us, bookstores with our issues in them shut down, and new issues were left in loading zones. We’ve lost more than half a year’s income at last count and have had to stop getting paid in order to continue to survive. Making this year’s HOPE a success is really the only way we can come through this.

As mentioned above, we don’t want anyone to feel extra unhappy because of this. If you want a refund, we will give you one. But with all of the losses we’ve already suffered, we won’t be able to continue existing if we have to issue very many of those. That’s why we’re hoping we can put together the best event possible and make this the highlight of our summer despite all that’s happened.

We are in the process of accepting talk and workshop proposals that have already been submitted. We will be providing technical support so that presenters will be able to participate smoothly in a virtual environment. We are now opening up the submission process to include many more participants from all around the globe, something we never really had the ability to do before. We hope to have talks, workshops, and musical presentations from a truly international community, no longer bound by a physical presence.

While we have a dedicated team of volunteers already working on making this happen, we can definitely use many more, especially as the event draws closer and becomes bigger. Email volunteers@hope.net and let us know how you think you can help. We’re looking for people with experience setting up and producing live online broadcasts. We are also looking for emcees, moderators for online forums, and people to fulfill other behind-the-scenes roles.

If we get through all of this, we fully intend to hold a physical HOPE in 2021 (the first odd-year HOPE since 1997). This will also enable us to continue publishing once bookstores start opening again. All of this depends on our hacker spirit getting us through the toughest times we ever could have imagined. And if you share our enthusiasm over what this new incarnation of HOPE will mean, this summer will indeed be one to look forward to.