In 2013 I went to Hamburg with my Husband as he was attending a conference - called CCC, Chaos Communication Congress. Happening since 1984, the conference is organized by the Chaos Computer Club, characterized as "...one of the most influential digital organisations anywhere, the centre of German digital culture, hacker culture, hacktivism, and the intersection of any discussion of democratic and digital rights."
I ended up joining the conference for 1 day, and it was fantastic! I wrote about the experience, including my favorite talks, here. I promised to come back for the full conference in 2014, and so I did.
Now, what can I say about the CCC congress that wasn't said before? It's a fantastic, huge conference - this last edition had between 10 to 14 thousand people, from all genders and ages. Such a big conference, and they don't have sponsors - only volunteers. Everything works just fine. Plus, they livestream all the talks, including live subtitling. They have an internal GSM network. They have dozens of free workshops, not limited to programming and hardware - knitting, brewing your own beer, lockpicking, among many others - all organized by attendees, basically anyone who wants to present a project or a workshop can do it there. And the ticket costs only around 100 euros.
This edition had a complete different meaning for me, as I was a first-class-citizen attending all days. The thing that really made the change was getting to visit and participate on the hardware workshops area. A whole new world opened to me after I got my first soldering experience, making an Arduino-like board and this amazing LED shield:
There aren't many things I like more than a good DiY. But this was much more than getting a nice LED gadget working: it opened my mind to an infinite number of things I can create, with hardware and code. I felt just like Alice in Wonderland. I only remember being so excited about something when I first started learning web development - the number of things I could build! I spent all weekend playing around with protoboards, leds and buttons.
Thanks 31C3 for that :)
My favorite talks
Last but not least, these are my favorite talks from 2014's edition. You can watch all talks in this link: http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2014 .
In this fantastic talk, Joscha Bach makes a correlation between computation and consciousness. This is definitely my favorite talk from 31C3.
Richard Stallman, as always, comes with some hard truths about the software industry and why we can't have security without free software. If you are into open source, I strongly recommend you watch this talk to understand the difference between free software and open source.
Jacob Appelbaum and arma talked about the Tor project, giving an overview of what they have planned for the future, demystifying false rumors and showing how important it is to provide a safe environment for journalists and whistleblowers, through the use of systems that provide real anonymity.