I'm going to put this out there right now.

The badge this year is not going to be electronic.

There, I said it.

After many, many talks with DT, Kingpin, Russ, and others, we decided that it was time for a change. It wasn't long after Defcon started doing electronic badges that darn near every conference you went to had an electronic bage.

The badge hacking contest was a great idea, and the number of people actually hacking the badge increased from year to year, but percentage wise the number participating was relatively low. There are many reasons for this, which isn't where I want this post to go.

I appreciate Bbox's comments above in this thread, that the intent of the badge is to get people's attention- I'd carry that further, and say that the badge (IMHO) has roughly three purposes:

1. As a 'security token' showing you paid for and are allowed to be in the conference spaces. This includes the distinction of TYPE of badge- (hell people this is a hacker conference, the OG badge hacking was privilege escalation)

2. Something that fosters learning/curiosity/pondering/thinking <---Translation: Something that appeals to "hackers" (no not going to get into the religious war of trying to define the term "hacker"- I hope that at least 60% 'get' what this means, unlike Dateline...

3. Something that fosters PARTICIPATION in the conference. Something that fosters INTERACTION with others. Something that helps make you a part of the experience/conference. This can be the most difficult, as a hard problem (impossible IMHO) to be everything to everyone. So you do your best.

Now, one has to try and accomplish all of that while NOT requiring the level of time commitment that say participating in the Mystery Challenge does. When people signed up for the Mystery Challenge they knew (for the most part) what they were getting into time wise. Every year the Mystery Challenge ran the most heard complaint I had was that people didn't get to do anything else at the conference due to the time commitment. (Consequently that was ALSO the most heard compliment as well, for those who really enjoyed the stupid stuff I came up with for them to do. I think the biggest compliment I ever got regarding Mystery Challenge was that it was "the only reason I come to Defcon is to compete in the Mystery Challenge".)

The 'badge contest' isn't going to be the Mystery Challenge. What I *do* hope it is is something that meets all the requirements I listed above, especially facilitating making people just plain have a bit of fun while making their Defcon experience a good one.

I really should stop getting up at 4am. I don't do this often, but I see it makes me wax philosophical...