Video-Interview of the hacker Clara G. Sopht
by Cornelia Sollfrank
Berlin, February 2000 (15 min)
Of the female hackers I've met, Clara G.Sopht is the most intellectual and reflexive, but also moody, unpredictable, and dangerous--perhaps a little psychopathic. I met Clara in December 1999, at the Berlin hacker convention CCC (Chaos Communication Congress), organized by the Chaos Computer Club (German hacker organization).

Clara is a stubborn personality, who is not in accord with the hacker "community" on many issues and has some undeniable destructive tendencies. Most hackers specialize in a field: you can be a software cracker, a crypto specialist, or whatever. Clara's hack is Denial of Service, or DoS, where a system is shut down (usually a corporate, military or governmental target) by moving more traffic to it than it can handle. DoS is the most spectacular and contested hack within the community and the world at large. For one thing, DoS generates a lot of publicity.

Clara agreed to give an interview under the condition that all material (like her name, image, traceable details of her exploits) would be masked to preserve her anonymity. She refused to answer almost all questions regarding her personal life, except that she had been brought up in Belgium by American parents, and is currently living back in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a programmer and system administrator.

The video has been/will be screened as a part of the exhibitions:

TenaCity Swiss Institute, 495 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012
March 24 - May 13, 2000

Shedhalle Zuerich, Rote Fabrik, Seestr. 395, 8038 Zürich, July 1 - August 6, 2000
Oeffnungszeiten: Mi-So: 21 - 23.30 Uhr

UFO Strategies Edith-Russ-Haus, Katharinenstr. 23, 26121 Oldenburg
May 5 - July 9, 2000

Cross Female — Kunst-Körper und andere Weiblichkeiten, opening September 29, 2000 Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Mariannenplatz, 10997 Berlin

****A little anecdote in the margin: At a time when Clara already had left Berlin, the CCC published on it’s website the photos of objects which people had forgotten at the congress. Particularly outstanding was a so-called ‘Persona’, which I had found in the ladys’ bathroom and had handed to the lost&found office. A ‘Persona’ is a technical gadget exclusively used by women to calculate their fertile days. That somebody had lost such a typically female object just at a hackers’ convention, quite surprised me. But it turned to become really funny, when I could witness the more or less helpless investigations of the mysterious gadget by some male hackers. Although it was just the disconcertment against a unknown gadget, for me it expressed the typical embarassment they feel against women.

Transcribed interview text:


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