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Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

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  • Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

    Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
    i'm so very sorry and i apologize to Cot in advance for taking one of the URLs he posted and using it to steer this conversation right back towards the icebergs, but i have to respond to this one piece and -- by extension -- give some thoughts about DEFCON Kids

    First and foremost, i'd like to see someone give this Mike Rothman character a good kick in the cunt. Get back to me if that happens, so i can take a little solace in it.

    This entire article is presented in such a way as to make it seem like the debate for and against DEFCON Kids was somehow centered around some people's desires to shield their kids from Teh Evil H4x0rz who will infect their minds and pwn their virgin buttholes or god-knows-what else.

    Maybe i just wasn't tuned in to the right channel in my brain, but the primary objection i saw among the hacker community regarding this new idea wasn't about insulating kids but rather isolating them.

    Kallahar, myself, and others looked with skepticism upon the DEFCON Kids event because we believe (if i may speak for some other folk here) the following...
    There has always been a DEFCON Kids event at this con, we just had a different name for it before now. You know what we called it? DEFCON.

    Those of us who expressed concern or even outright criticism did so because we questioned whether parents should be encouraged to corral their kids into a specific room and a particular area (an area that many people felt was going to be too "sanitized" for lack of a better term)

    Let's put it another way, with a purely hypothetical set of numbers...
    Scenario One - DEFCON Kids exists and runs

    100 kids are brought to Las Vegas because of DEFCON and DEFCON Kids. All of them attend some of the DEFCON Kids sessions. About 10 or maybe even 20 of them venture out into the "real" con space and get to see loads more cool stuff and one day might grow up to take over the world. The 80 or 90 kids who only see DEFCON Kids are still better for the experience, but their eyes aren't "opened quite as widely" some would say.

    Scenario Two - DEFCON Kids does not exist

    Those 100 kids above? Yeah, many of their families now do not bring them to Las Vegas. Maybe only 40 or 50 of them might come with parents and see DEFCON... but they'd be seeing the "real" DEFCON... all of it. While there are fewer kids being exposed to hackers, they are getting "more" of an experience.

    Scenario Three - DEFCON is Cancelled

    All the kids stay home and have a really shitty summer spent watching America's Next Top Model and reruns of Friends, none of them question the TSA when they fly to visit grandma, schools decline because of lack of imagination and/or roof pools, and Michelle Bachman gets elected president of Earth in 2024.

    Heh, ok... hyperbole aside, i think we can agree that life for all parties young and old is better when kids are doing more hacker-y things. So then the real question sort of becomes just an issue of my hypothetical numbers above.

    Did only 10 or 20% of the DEFCON Kids participants venture out into the scary-yet-awesome world that is DEFCON at large? i think that number was actually higher than many people initially predicted. Certainly higher than 10 or 20%. A lot of this had to do with Chris Hadnagy's awesome Social Engineering contest and similar tasks which were well-crafted.

    If DEFCON Kids did not exist, would up to 40 or 50% of those potential kids have really come to Vegas at all? maybe not. Aside from the sad-looking clowns who stand near the entrances to pedestrian bridges and perhaps the lunacy that is a Carrot Top show, This city isn't really a kid-friendly place.*


    Ultimately, i think that the DEFCON Kids event was more of a success than a lot of us (including myself) thought it would be. Kids didn't stay too isolated, in spite of the incredible distance of the room's location and such. The speakers who attended (and, indeed, i was asked to present and i accepted, even if it was on Sunday morning, heh) did a good job of bringing real content, not dumbed-down fluff.

    We got some good press, albeit a lot was human-interest pieces or uninformed drivel like the article that started me on this whole crazy post.


    For future years, i think it's not bad if we see DEFCON Kids continue... but with an even greater focus on opening up the event in a way that strongly encourages kids and their parents to see the rest of the con space. Maybe part of that is more contests driving people to the main event room. Maybe more of the "main" events offering some kid-friendly component.

    I'm no longer in charge of Beverage Cooling, having handed it off to some key figures who are always out there every year... but i'd love it if there was a side-contest called, i don't know, "Slurm Cooling" (perhaps featuring just SunnyD dyed green or something) that runs at the same time and with the same fanfare as the "adult" events.

    I'm eager to see how all of this turns out. I'm eager to see the debate continue. I'm eager to see DEFCON keep getting more awesome and to see more people of all ages getting involved.



    * I was tempted to also mention the Bellagio Fountains, but any kid standing outside and watching them would likely be accosted by numerous fast-talkers trying to hand them advertisements for hookers or seedy buffet coupons.
    Last edited by Deviant Ollam; September 2, 2011, 12:46.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

  • #2
    Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

    There is another scenario you failed to mention dev, one where long time attendees are bringing thier kids anyways, knowing full well what the rest of con is like, but want an area that they can learn at thier own pace and not have to deal with me on sunday morning fighting for a soldering iron whileI'm hung over (I get stabby no matter what age the other person is).

    I'm working on a large essay of thoughts for DT (he asked for it) and I'm on the DC kids section. The short version is that my experience this year was that it was positive as it kept the kids out from under foot for some portion but still imparted the lessons desired. I just dont want it to become the only reason that people come to con (i.e. parents taking thier kids to babysit them at Defcon kids instead of having and interest in the rest of con at all). We are not and should not be, a tourist attraction.

    One complaint about DC kids was the fact they had an enigma machine in there (cool) but they would'nt let me in to see it (boo for my curiosity, yaa for sticking to rules of adults with kids only).

    In regards to the article. Add my boot to the queue that wants to kick Mike Rothman (after a verbal debate to establish positions and ensure no misunderstanding why my boot is interfacing his ass).

    The main quote from the article: "There was a decent amount of backlash for folks wondering how respectable parents could let their kids go to Defcon Kids. " - He never cited where this backlash was from. Poor reporting at best.

    Yes there was debate on the forums, but that was all constructive and centered around the possibility I mentioned above about parents bringin kids just for DC kids, not understanding the rest of the con and having issues. In the end it was a 'lets give it a chance and see what happens'. Where he dermined there was debate about 'respectible parents' and hiding who we were is a mystery to me.

    Someone comment on the article, pointing him here to enter this debate. I never comment on an article while drunk, tired and angry (which is often).
    Never drink anything larger than your head!





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    • #3
      Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

      Originally posted by renderman View Post
      The main quote from the article: "There was a decent amount of backlash for folks wondering how respectable parents could let their kids go to Defcon Kids. " - He never cited where this backlash was from. Poor reporting at best.
      I think this is the primary point. Before having an issue with the author for getting on our case, it's probably good to know that he's actually on our case.

      On his part, it's extremely poor writing. Very vague.
      It's not stupid, it's advanced.

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      • #4
        Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

        Originally posted by renderman View Post
        Yes there was debate on the forums, but that was all constructive and centered around the possibility I mentioned above about parents bringin kids just for DC kids, not understanding the rest of the con and having issues.
        This is only about half-on-topic, but I ran into parents who weren't even aware they had to pay for admission. (And some who didn't pay for admission at all.) I didn't see how DC Kids was rolled out to parents in order to prepare them for "the rest of the con," but next year "your child is a not a badge" may have to be one of the things mentioned. ;)
        WUVMVEtSUktQRlJOVE9CSENLRUFIUUtR

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        • #5
          Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

          Originally posted by Ellen View Post
          This is only about half-on-topic, but I ran into parents who weren't even aware they had to pay for admission. (And some who didn't pay for admission at all.) I didn't see how DC Kids was rolled out to parents in order to prepare them for "the rest of the con," but next year "your child is a not a badge" may have to be one of the things mentioned. ;)
          And this is good feedback to kick upstairs for future iterations. I'll note it in my essay.
          Never drink anything larger than your head!





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          • #6
            Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

            My daughter started DC 9 at 16. My son started DC 10 at 11. They found their way around just fine. BUT the point is... if we don't teach them how to properly use and abuse technology (ethics, law, etc.) they will do it themselves, and come up with their own rules. Think Lord of the Flies.

            Bring the kids... more of them every year. And I'll be happy to run the Ethics Games I ran at Black Hat and DC a few years ago. Puts the technology in perspective.

            All this: IMHO

            Winn
            WInn Schwartau

            If you cant find my phone number you shouldn't be calling me anyway. :-)

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            • #7
              Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

              Originally posted by Deviant Ollam View Post
              i'm so very sorry and i apologize to Cot in advance for taking one of the URLs he posted and using it to steer this conversation right back towards the icebergs, but i have to respond to this one piece and -- by extension -- give some thoughts about DEFCON Kids
              No worries... You pulled out the URL and started a new thread, which is totally fine for this new conversation. The reason for me starting a new URL threads was not primarily because the old thread was highjacked, but because my reply to the old URL thread with its arguments, only to add more URL would resurrect the old arguments and have an effect much like trolling.

              Your choice to start a new thread about a URL in the new URL thread? Great idea!

              Thanks!
              -Cot
              Last edited by TheCotMan; September 3, 2011, 14:43.

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              • #8
                Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

                Originally posted by winn View Post
                the point is... if we don't teach them how to properly use and abuse technology (ethics, law, etc.) they will do it themselves, and come up with their own rules. Think Lord of the Flies.
                Winn
                Very true, parents are the key to determining how a kid is going to act when he or she grows up. When kids are younger, it's much easier to teach them the proper ways of using or abusing technologies and the reasoning behind those ways. Giving a kid the proper direction so they become an asset in the long run instead of a detriment is so important these days, especially with the amount of information available online.

                Half of the problem these days is that parents don't adequately know what their kid is being exposed to, where as if they did know they can help to give and inform their kid the right way. Yes, they may be exposed to more adult themes earlier, but if you are there to monitor that and provide them answers when needed I believe the kid will turn out better from it.

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                • #9
                  Re: Affter-Con thoughts on DEFCON Kids

                  Scenario Three - DEFCON is Cancelled

                  All the kids stay home and have a really shitty summer spent watching America's Next Top Model and reruns of Friends, none of them question the TSA when they fly to visit grandma, schools decline because of lack of imagination and/or roof pools, and Michelle Bachman gets elected president of Earth in 2024.
                  LOL. Indeed. All jokes aside... My daughter will be 11 next year, and has cried the last two years she could not attend Con. The Rio is a big place, but I think my mini-goon will be able to handle it then.

                  I enjoy the concept of DEFCON Kids at face value - but my daughter will be attending the actual Con (probably working with me somewhere gooning), and will be attending the real talks. I started DEFCON as a kid (I was 13)... and she won't get a 'kids' only version. But each kid is different . My son would probably get more out of a children's area format - while my daughter enjoys more 'actual' hacking threads. Point is - to each there own.

                  But for the PC shit that dumbs down the brilliance of the Con - and thus the potential for DC Kids to affect the rate that 'correctness' has already encroached (think no 'boobs' on goon bribe cards) - FUCK THAT NOISE. Start using DC KIDS as a PC crutch/justification system and I will stamp 'boobs' on candy and pass them out as PedoBear.

                  -blak

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