Chronicle of AnthillHacks ’19

Mani Kantan
10 min readDec 6, 2020


“For me, AnthillHacks ’19 camp is a fantastic experience of community & nature. Along with my colleague Bhanu Prakash travelled from Bengaluru and we reached Devarayanadurga and Iruway farm after traveling 75 km. I have never been to Tumakuru district in the state of Karnataka in India. It’s a different kind of experience.”

The two weeks that I spent at AnthillHacks ’19 were filled with so many amazing experiences, attending several amazing sessions, enjoying the foods, meeting old friends and new was great. Had the chance to meet a lot of people from the Free and open-source software (FOSS) community. The diversity of the sessions was really impressive.

Quick intro

AnthillHacks has been held since 2015. It was for 9 days during the Summer of 2015. Then annually for 2–3 days. In 2019 it achieved 2 weeks!

The AnthillHacks ’19 camp venue (Yatri Nivas) and view. Photo Credits: Dipti

Anthill is a metaphor for the world of structure and complexity that exists just beneath the surface of everything around us.

The idea of AnthillHacks is to encourage people to meet at smaller hills nearby and include it in the program (the place matters). And the idea of AnthillHacks is to be inclusive of City folks, of village folks, of women and non-binary, of educated and the low-literate to get to participate and be together.

Imagine groups of people from different domains living together for a period of time. The location itself brings about an intermingling of thought-systems that would not have interacted otherwise. This inspires collaborations giving birth to eye-opening new productions and curation of existing narratives and annotations of real world objects at the location.

Our tents at foothills of Devarayanadurga hills. Photo Credits: Dipti

AnthillHacks is a gathering of Artists, Hackers, Technology freaks, Scientists, Environmentalists, Culture Benders and other community stewards and their friends and family to come together, co-operate, build, break, hack together and party like the “Ants” and participant are from around the major cities in India, and other parts of the world.

AnthillHacks ’19 our camp participants & volunteers. Photo Credits: Janastu team

“Winter is here and so is AnthillHacks, the second edition of the winter school atop Devarayanadurga from 07-20 Dec 2019.”

It was the perfect season to be around in Devarayanadurga. Our camp site at the beautiful terraces now named Anterras by our community.

The camp site at Anterras while having discussions over tea. Photo Credits: Dinesh

Settling in & The unconference

Day 01

The first thing I noticed was all the tents that’s been setup on a field and creating spaces. It looked so cool! We had a few interesting sessions.

Pitching tents. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Follow the sheep — traces: Dipti Desai

Dipti spoke about the Follow The Sheep’s project which involves following shepherds and their (mostly black) sheep.

Follow the sheep talk by Dipti. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Day 02

From Buffalo herding to heritage and bio-diversity treks.

Buffalo herding to heritage. Photo Credits: Nikki
Bio-diversity treks. Photo Credits: Nikki

Designing Organic Badges: Siddava. Madhu and team

At IruWay there were workshops with crafts woman Siddava, Madhu at Crafter Space where some people weaving for the first time.

“Crafter Space is a Craft Cluster project and a small team of people completely involved in their work, weaving products from sustainable, locally sourced materials. The first Craft Centre is based in Devarayanadurga, executed by Mitan and Janastu, funded by Rotary Dist. 3190. Want to know more about Craft Centre watch this video”.

Crafts workshops. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Day 03

Every morning before a session begins, Prabir Chitrakar a traditional scroll from West Bengal sings the song associated with the story in the scroll. watch the video

Prabhir Chitrakar painting and song. Photo Credits: Nikki

Apps for Work: Oppression and Opportunity — Pradyumna

Pradyumna, who just finished his masters from IIIT — Bangalore in Digital Societies, spoke about Gig economies / Platform economies where software companies and algorithms are gaming peoples aspirations and dreams.

Apps for Work: Oppression and Opportunity talk by Pradyumna. Photo Credits: Dinesh

Walk thorough the challenges faced during the set-up of research culture, and also my journey from government schools in small villages to IITs. — Uma

Uma Mudengudi, Dean R and D, Professor at ECE, KLE Tech University, Hubbali, Karnataka spoke about her life stories and how she transformed all challenges that she had to face as a woman to dare to aspire, dream and achieve.

Uma about her life stories. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Workshop of visual storytelling using Maaya — Bhanu

While on the camp site, we all made a collective decision to start every day with a short summary narration by all participants about the previous day. Then used in the Maaya software to make an A/V presentation.

  • Watch the summaries here.
Maaya software to make an A/V presentation.

Day 04

Community Networks — Nico

An intense learning about Libre Routers and Libre Mesh Software, Installation, building and deploying.

LibreRouter: the why? by Nicolás Pace

Mobile radio van: a tour of the hills — Girish

Radio van van. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Our Village Radio (“Namma Halli Radio”); And it is our radio (“namdu1radio”) is a platform to Express yourself. School students and volunteers help with designing, recording, editing the audio programmes.

School students recording and editing the audio programmes. Photo Credits: Janastu team

“Girish, a media enthusiast, created Namma Halli Radio in Tumakuru district, to focus on primary education. The last few years Janastu has encouraged Girish to pursue his vision through various grant programs supported by Development Alternatives (DA), Rotary Dist 3190, Association for Progressive Communications (APC)”.

The media-making space in the community radio. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Camp fire and Music at the Flying Turtle Amphitheatre

Philosophy Musings with Mukunda Rao, Camp fire and Music at the Flying Turtle Amphitheatre by various artists including Raja and Moon from the Agnii team.

Camp fire & Music at Iruway farm. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Day 05

Organic Colors. Making and playing — Harshita

Interactive sessions on Making your own Natural colors and natural cleansers and shampoos that we can use to wash from our hair to cars which simply work and are eco-friendly.

Organic Colors by Harshita. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Data privacy for non-technical audience

Ram who used to lead the Free Software Movement of Karnataka earlier and now works as full time DevOps lead a session on data privacy for non-technical audience with interesting insights to apps and alternatives for current social media and other things we do on the internet.

Data privacy by Ram. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Bidar and orality — Shreyas

Shreyas Srivatsa from Deccan Living Labs is a researcher and practitioner with an enduring interest in the transdisciplinary approach, who spoke about Bidar and orality.

Shreyas on Bidar and orality. Photo Credits: Janastu team

For the grand celebration of the full moon night

We had Shilpa and Aditya founders of the Urban Folk project, Shilpa lending her voice to sing Kannada folk songs.

Celebration of the full moon night. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Day 6–8 (CNX)

The journey of the third edition of Community Network Exchange (CNX) started on December 12, 2019, from Janastu base camp. There were many sessions and workshops throughout the day. Also don’t miss to watch video.

Sessions of CNX 2019 Day 1 & 2 at Janastu base camp. Photo Credits: Janastu team
Group discussion during CNX session. Photo Credits: Janastu team

CNX session at IruWay Farm (parallel) — Test IruWay connectivity and the built up mesh.

IruWay farm, or “iruve” means ants in Kannada. As “iruve” becomes IruWay, we take inspiration from ants, as creatures of cooperation, coordination and the collective. The farm is located on the foothills of Devarayandurga near Durgadahalli village in Tumakuru district”.

IruWay Farm Map

The first day started with discovering the treks of the base camp, where Janastu has installed two access points using Libremesh router one on the top of the hill and another in the village. The one installed at the top of the hill is connected with Raspberry Pi 3 which acts as a local server for the community radio station. The team of Janastu gave a demonstration of how they store the radio programmes on the Raspberry Pi and disseminate amongst community members.

CNX sessions continues at Protovillage

At the end of CNX Day 2, Janastu team and participants joined the CNX Day 3 at Protovillage where they demonstrated the community radio setup and initiated community radio activities.

CNX 2019 Day 3 at Protovillage. Photo Credits: Janastu team

Day 9–13

AnthillHacks School Program

One of the most important parts of AnthillHacks is its school program where AnthillHacks conduct workshops free of cost for the local school kids.

AnthillHacks School Program. Photo Credits: Janastu team.

Day 14

Wind down - tear down 😪 cleanup 🧹 and goodbyes 🖐

In the morning, people started leaving. I truly had an amazing time at camp AnthillHacks and I will cherish those memories forever. Thanks for reading!

Acknowledgments: Team Janastu & Servelots, interns, volunteers, AnthillHacks participants and friends. To name a few.. TB Dinesh, Shalini A, Bhanu Prakash, Sanketh Kumar and Girish...