* 6 februari 1969 – † 6 oktober 2015
At a private mailinglist, a participant from New York asked to write about Felipe, because ‘...Publicly noting the death of people like Felipe provides a sort of a breadcrumb trail for people too late or too young to remember ’ and ‘ ...Felipe's death can also remind a wider audience of all the good he did.’
This page contains my personal answer: « ...I have been writing some of my memories last days — it might spark memories amongst you, many of you have worked closer to Felipe than I have.
And or in an earlier stage @ xs4all.
It is a long time ago... I hope my memory is correct. »
Courage to face controversial issues
« Yes, indeed, it is easy to create a mythical Persona out of our memories of Felipe.
His character, kindness and brightness could not be overlooked, and many of us will have similar memories of Felipe's presence and role during the Nineties in the XS4ALL community.
I choose the word community, 'cause that is what XS4ALL felt like in the Nineties, — especially for a stranger like me, who had worked in schools and 'normal' (*cough*) companies, and was unfamiliar with the kindness and absence of hierarchy that characterized XS4ALL during those days.
Within XS4ALL Felipe did not portray himself like 'a Boss.' He acted like 'just another gentle person working at the Prins Hendrikkade.' He ran numerous projects, from offering streaming audio to Radio B52 in Belgrado, to supporting environmental activists.
If I remember it well, Systeembeheer was not always fully informed of the sponsoring :-) Leading to conversations like "What is this? One of Felipe's projects?" :-)
Besides his projects and the organizations Felipe founded, from NLIP to Meldpunt KP, Felipe also spent time answering complaints of customers. Always very kindly, with an admirable patience.
Sometimes his answers contained an offer to drink a coffee or beer, a well-formulated political view, or a simple explanation of a technical issue.
Always very kind, and it must have meant a lot, I think, to customers to get a personal answer of 'the boss himself.' How many companies would have done that, those days?
It is comforting to find some of these texts still online, deeply hidden in the Usenet-archives. Here you'll find Felipe offering an Appeltaart and a free xs4all-account to Karel Jeelof of Scientology, if Jeelof would continue to produce such utterly laughable messages:
The atmosphere within XS4ALL was, at least in the eye of an outsider like I was, family-like. After work colleagues often had dinner in the "Volksbond" at the Kadijksplein. I remember many cheerful, happy nights at Pubs in the old Centre of Amsterdam, parties at the Woonhuis at the PH-kade, and even a merry Company-dinner at a Chinese Restaurant at the Zeedijk.
It was not all plain happiness ofcourse, there were tough and sensitive subjects, from Child-pornography, raising discussions that got out-of-hand, especcially on the mailinglist of the Dutch Digital Rights Movement DB-NL, to the IP-filtering blockade against www.xs4all.nl by German ISP's.
I remember picking up the phone, that was faster than running to Felipe's desk, and reading the e-mails of angry customers, sent to email@example.com telling us none of the XS4ALL-sites nor mail-adresses could be reached in Germany.
Personally, I was shocked by the extent of the blockade and the extremity of the German measurements, but Felipe remained calm and clear. Informed systeembeheer and created work-arounds.
Felipe's solution was elegant and righteous: let the Judge decide if the German Magazine Radikal is forbidden or not.
It is, I think, not an exaggeration, or a mythification to conclude the Dutch Internet would have been different without Felipe's efforts.
Felipe had the courage to invest in HackTic/XS4ALL as a company. "When we are a company," he once said, "they cannot forbid our activities."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, since we are a company, they cannot come by and take all our computers: they are economic resources now, and the Govt. cannot take away economic resources." You'll probably remember the smile on Felipe's face while explaining things like that - to persons like me that were unfamiliar with 'the hacker-scene.'
Ironically, well, better: sadly, it was an unfortunate loss that made it possible for Felipe to invest in XS4ALL as a company. Both his parents died young, and left him their Restaurant.
Felipe studied medicine at that time, medicine interested him because of his mothers illness, he told me. But when she died, he felt no need to finish his studies. Besides that: he had the restaurant to take care for. The Restaurant made it possible to get a loan to start the ISP. Without that loan and investment, the ISP would have started much smaller (I think I have been told by Iwan Boskamp once; Iwan, is this correct?)
It was not just his courage to take a financial risk, far from that: Felipe had courage to face controversial issues, to sponsor unusual projects, to frase philosophical, ethical and political views and, patiently, raise awareness amongst the Dutch internet population.
Of course, Felipe was not alone: Rop, Karin, Cor and many of their friends shared this view, made persistent efforts and thus contributed to the internet-history that created our Dutch internet culture.
I trust we will all cherish the memories and take good care of Felipe's intellectual heritage, each and every-one of us in his or her own way :-)
Finally some quotes of Felipe, that made it to e-mail-signatures and were once online at the "5 year XS4ALL-page."
Minder werken is goed voor het bedrijf. -Felipe
('Working less is good for the company.')
Mijn tijd is de baas z'n tijd. -Felipe
('My time is the boss's time')
<iemandopIRC> Felipe, je bent een schurk.
<Felipe> Nee niet, ik ben een provider.
('Felipe, you are a crook'
'No, not, I am a provider.')
Verandering is de enige zekerheid. -Felipe
('Change is the only certainty.')
PGP keyID: 0x0C605E66
Interview with Felipe, YouTube (in Dutch): Felipe Rodriquez in 2 Vandaag, augustus 1995, upload van André Kalden, hoofdredacteur Modem Magazine. Onderwerp: over internetveiligheid en kwaliteit van internetaanbieders.