Berlin, September 2013


against abusive use of personal data

on the Internet
In front of the main banner, a woman with long white hair is riding a recumbent bike heavy-laden with solar panels. A long pole carries the sign:

"Government control starts between your ears when you tell yourself what your masters told you"

Attached to the sign, a Wi-Fi device transmits a message several hundred meters around: « Fuck the NSA ». When you connect to it, you can download the new version of a book entitled: "Serenität"

1. Hacker

Elektra is a member of one of the oldest Berlin groups of hackers,
the Chaos Computer Club
“ I belong to the old generation of hackers. The new one was born with computers. They know about computers, programming but not electronics.
I am the opposite ”
“I am a radio freak”
"I started playing with electromagnetic waves when I was 10 or 12 years old..."
Since that time, Elektra has never stopped experimenting.

In 2004, as the ‘vdsl router’ had not yet made it to all Berlin districts, she offers to the community of free radios (Freifunk Community) to build a wireless peer-to-peer network to create a free-of-charge public network. It is an instant success. She develops the Mesh Potato, boxes that connect to one another in order to create this network.

A first functional network in South Africa.

Very quickly, she is invited to different different so-called “southern” countries to introduce her technology and train people to use it.

The Mesh Potato appears to be the solution to the major concern of countries where wire-based communication technology is somewhat underdeveloped due to a lack of infrastructures and where the use of mobile phones remains expensive. Elektra keeps improving the system by developing energy-saving and low-maintenance computers of the size of an SD card, , which could serve as powerful Wi-Fi relay antennas. When placed in remote places, they could extend the network coverage area.

Thus, Elektra has collaborated to the writing of the book « Wireless networking in the developing world », freely accessible on the Internet in 7 languages. The second edition has been downloaded more than two million times.

2. Trailer Park

A trailer park is a land occupied by trailers and containers customized for life in community.
There are about fifteen of them in Berlin. Elektra’s one is located right in the heart of the city, at Friedrichshain. It is certainly the most well-known one, and as such, is now indicated in tourist guides.

About ten people sharing similar values live here. You can find a “give-box” at the entrance to give or take free of charge useful objects, meals in common are open to all at a free price on Wednesday evenings, it has solar energy, a profound respect for nature, outdoor cinema sessions, freeprice workshops

The community was created in 1996. It settled on this land in 2001. Following several weeks of political struggle – an eviction and the presence of a hundred policemen – members of the community finally obtained the right, from the city hall, to continue using the land.

A policy change is still likely and evacuations could start again, however, in the meantime, life goes on...

"I feel more connected with nature"
Elektra cannot imagine living in a condo anymore. Even though her trailer park is located in the city center, she is much more connected with nature, with the weather, with the seasons. ”You just need to open the door to walk on grass”..
She is the actor of her own environment: She fixes her trailer herself when needed, she produces her own electricity, and… ”I take my bath in a large basin full of water that I have heated before”..
Sometimes adapting one’s own behavior is necessary. For example, in winter, Elektra uses a smaller laptop computer that needs less energy. "It is not a computer that handles images or performs complicated tasks, but it is largely enough for most of my activities".

All these little details count. They are not constraints, but on the contrary, moments of pleasure that make her master of her environment. Finally, they are the symbol of her freedom.
3. Life philosophy
Whether it is breaking free from a worldwide surveillance system, creating free and open communication systems, or pursuing her lifestyle…
…Elektra’s actions are all related to the suppression of all forms of imposed authority and to taking the leads of her own existence.
It was not premeditated but rather a chain of actions linked to her personality.
She does what she likes, and she likes what she does, hence her actions are coherent. They reflect only one thing: herself.

However, there is a fundamental aspect that she would like to convey through her books and her voiced opinions:

Her philosophy of life…

The principle is relatively simple: it is about being yourself. However, in order to succeed, you need to understand that we continuously manipulate ourselves or that we are continuously manipulated by others.
The society expects a certain type of behavior from us. Our relatives expect a certain way of being from us. And without realizing it, we discuss with ourselves, for instance, to decide how to act, or how to behave every day. We associate this discussion with reflection or thinking, without realizing that this little voice we have in our head is not our own thinking, but a thinking we impose on ourselves.
In order to explain her philosophy, one of Elektra’s most favorite sentences is as follows:

« talking in your own head does not mean thinking,
but only speaking »
The solution is simple: stop talking to yourself. Stop thinking. The brain does not need help to think. It does it very well by itself. In the same way that it is not necessary to talk to your liver for it to do its job, it is useless to talk to your brain for it to function. We should let our brain work alone and stop thinking.

And beyond breaking free from unconscious manipulations, not talking to ourselves allows to reach a state of Serenity. Most daily pains disappear: headaches, aggressiveness, intolerance, etc.

This state of well-being has been found in a number of philosophies through time. It has been presented in different ways: from Buddhism to Eckhart Tolle and even animist religions. Each messenger presents the same idea with their own codes. The solutions can vary but they all lead to the same objective: freeing yourself from unnecessary thoughts in order to know yourself and act according to your own thoughts and desires.

"I want to start the revolution in people’s minds"

Elektra presents her message in a way that reflects her own style, with her own words, without any reference to religion.

She uses various ways of communication: Twitter, public domain books that can be downloaded for free, and by performing “one-woman shows” in a cabaret.

"If everybody behaved like this, stopped listening to the voice we have in our head,
the world would be much more beautiful, and a lot simpler"

When Elektra is asked why she wants to spread her philosophy, her answer is simple:
« My goal is absolutely selfish. I would prefer to live in a society where people do not talk to themselves because life would be more enjoyable. In my motivation, there is also empathy for people who are manipulated by others by disseminating strange ideas.

For instance, this idea that the economy is more important than anything else. Banks deposit insurance has injected I don’t know how many billions euros in order to save the banks. We save banks, but not people! We have more empathy for banks than for the poor in this society. This is utter nonsense »

A documentary directed by…

Benoit and Hélène went to Berlin in August and September 2013 and drew this portrait. They met Andrea, a documentary director, who introduced them to Elektra.

Her personality and the principles of her philosophy quickly motivated them to make this first portrait of the series. Raising this subject on Sideways appears relevant. They knew the basis of it through Buddhism and meditation, but dealing with the topic through the words of a hacker is what they found most interesting.

Back in France, Benoit and Hélène worked on the writing of this magazine and its formatting.

Helene Hecke did the translation into German, Julie Salmon (@JulieSalmonMex) and María Jesús into Spanish and Farha (Ma Maison Sur Roues) and Elise into English.
To find out more...

You can find Elektra on her Internet Website: and on Twitter : @elektra_42

If you would like to know more about the hacker-lady's philosophy, you can read other works such as "Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life" by Thich Nhat Hanh and books written by Eckart Tolle, etc.

Financing and contributions

This portrait has been self-financed. The project is now open to contributions. If you appreciate our work and you wish to help us, you can participate with a gift, or with your skills.

To know how the money is spent, take a look at our economic model.

You can help to translate in another language you speak and we will spred it in new places. Here are all the documents to begin now.

Should you have any query or simply the desire to share, do not hesitate to contact us !

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