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Meet the LibrePlanet 2017 Speakers: Gordon Hall

by Stephen Mahood Contributions Published on Mar 01, 2017 03:59 PM
Session title: Strike at the Roots! An Analysis of Mass Surveillance and Ecology

Gordon Hall will be joining us at LibrePlanet 2017, sharing his analysis of mass surveillance and how it connects to other issues. He spoke with us recently about himself, his interests, and why free software.

Photo of Gordon
Hall

Would you tell us a bit about yourself?

I wanted to be a filmmaker when I was young. I managed to win a sizable scholarship to attend an arts college in Atlanta in my junior year of high school for two short films I wrote, directed, and edited with friends. I switched my major at the last minute to graphic design and lasted a semester before dropping out and helping some friends who were opening a skate park with graphics and their website. This was what ultimately got me into hacking. Some years later, I married my wife Libby and we had our daughter, Ruby who refuses to be in a car unless she can listen to hardcore.

How did you get interested in the relationship between surveillance and ecology?

Murray Bookchin's critical theory of Social Ecology has been very influential for me. The assertion that most ecological problems stem from social problems provides a wealth of relationships to explore. Given that mass surveillance is such a pressing social issue right now, I thought it would be interesting to connect the dots between it and the ongoing destruction of the environment.

Additionally, I have been working on the Storj project for over a year now, which aims to replace the "cloud" with a peer-to-peer encrypted object storage network capable of running on low-power and outdated hardware. Given that this project's primary qualities are securing data and promoting ecological sustainability by reducing electronic waste, it seemed like a good case study for ways we can tackle these problems.

What are you looking forward to at LibrePlanet?

This will be my second LibrePlanet, my first being last year. I don't enjoy attending technology conferences. Walking into a place that's promoted as a place to learn and then walking into a host of vendors trying to sell their proprietary software strikes me as a very hostile environment for learning. LibrePlanet, though, is something very special. It's something we all engage in together constructively, not the ruthless marketing machines I have attended in the past. Last year I left LibrePlanet feeling energized and motivated to keep hacking the planet and I expect the same this time around!

Do you have any skills or talents you wish more people knew about?

I play the ukulele and the cajón in a "band" with my wife and friends called Pukulele. We also have another "band" called Jellyfist in which I just yell obnoxiously.

Interested in learning more? Join us at LibrePlanet 2017 to attend Gordon's talk as well as dozens of others! As always, FSF members and students attend gratis.

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