Chaos Computer Congress is the biggest thing. It's THE THING. In fact there are two types of people in the world: those who are planning to go to CCC and those who haven't heard of it yet. That time of the year between Christmas and New Year (when most german cities turn into ghost towns) when a bunch of interesting folks hang out together, listen to each other and make stuff under umbrella of the shared ideals and love for technology. It is almost like Star Trek, but in a convention centre and only for four days. In fact CCC often makes deliberate design choices like TNG era screen designs or creating a warp bubble on the assembly room. These people know what's what. And they are serious about what they do and in return are taken seriously by The Man.
This year's CCC (or 33C3) is even bigger than usual, and pleases anyone who loves math. It happened so that my companion for the event was my partner, a person removed from tech, but he was tempted by promise of politics and space. When we entered the convention centre we both were overwhelmed. Within plethora of self-organised sessions and talks there was just too much to do. I can only imagine how dumbstruck my partner was at the time.
But after seeing some familiar places and downloading the right app, we figured it out. And we had great time meeting cool people and learning stuff. It is very welcoming and accepting crowd. A safe space if you will. And they accommodated people with different needs and interests so well it might have been called Diversity: the conference.
I think it is unnecessary to mention all the things we've done and seen as well as all the things in that were happening in the 3 days: CCC is HUGE. But I think its flexibility allows anyone to have their unique experience and have either a chill-out session, vigorous learning schedule or mixture of both.
We happen to be visiting many political talks and some of them were wonderful (we got to see a live translation from Edward Snowden). Since CCC people are very so awesome, all the videos were online just couple of hours after they've started and have variety of subtitles to choose from. If you have to choose one, I recommend funny and hopeful talk by ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner (an the entirety of space track for that matter, that dark matter if you will).
My biggest take away from CCC is how big my responsibility is. I've chosen to do this thing that I do and I might as well use it for something good. That is no rocket science of course, but that is something that feels right when you know that there are people who of that and people who will help you when you stumble and fall.
My partner loved it and despite having no previous understanding of "these things" is shopping for some hardware to start making stuff, so don't be intimidated by this juggernaut. We are coming again, because being there feels like looking 20 years into the future.
Hamburg is great. The docks. St.Pauli. Canals. It feels opens and relaxed, a lot like Amsterdam. And it is really not that cold. 10/10!