The last few days of 2017 were spent in Leipzig, attending the 34C3. It was my fourth congress and the first one in Leipzig. I didn’t know what to expect from the new location and I never was in Leipzig before. In addition I was interested in the new ICE route from Berlin to Munich and thought that the part Berlin-Leipzig would be interesting. In preparation of the congress I looked through the talks and was blown away. There were - again - so many good talks, especially the shortly announced one with Snowden via livestream was promising.
I arrived in Leipzig on the 26th December. The plan was to quickly drive to the hotel to leave the trolley there and then drive to the exhibition halls. Well, it turned out that the public transport in Leipzig on holidays and especially between Christmas and New Year wasn’t that good, especially compared to Hamburg. Overall it took us about 3 hours to drive to the hotel, leave the stuff behind and then drive to the exhibition halls. In 2018 I will already arrive on the 25th in order to participate the entire 26th December. The train journey itself was without problems but the route from Berlin to Leipzig was in fact not new. That part hasn’t changed. The new route for the ICE trains only starts in Halle/Leipzig. Another dent in the initial experience was the fact that the hotel was one station outside the Leipzig tariff zone 110. Another thing I will make sure to get right in 2018 will be the location of my hotel. It will be within the Leizig tariff zone.
The Bad and the Ugly
But enough with these environmental conditions. Let’s start with the congress itself. The area was huge and much bigger than the CCH in Hamburg. Though it is not entirely correct to simply compare the top-down area since the CCH had a lot more verticality throughout whereas in the Leipzig exhibition halls most things happened on one level. In any case many people brought rolling devices with them to cover the long distances more quickly. Some even built their own rolling chairs. The Congress Center Leipzig (CCL) was home to the Heaven, the smallest lecture hall and the merchandise as well as some political assemblies. There was one huge hall (Hall 2) which was filled with all the assemblies and two halls filled with the big lecture halls. The connecting glass hall was home to CERT, the main entrance, food catering and some more things.
It was definitely a different light experience. The big glass hall allowed daylight consumption and made it plain obvious when that was missing. Furthermore it was never as warm as the CCH. I’d say the lighting and the temperature feeling were the main detractors from the experience. In the CCH I was able to stay much longer without being tired, simply because there was a lot more to discover and more exciting locations. The new areas are good for the amount of people but it all felt a lot more anonymous and less comfortable. I had a bit of CeBIT feeling in the congress thanks to the long walking times and the few opportunities to sit down. This dragged my feeling down. Furthermore the out of center location in Leipzig meant that there were no relative cheap opportunities to eat. You had a Mc Donalds within 10 walking minutes but after one side exit was closed down, the walking distance doubled at least, which ruled it out in the next days. Other than that only the expensive catering inside the congress was available. There was also the Heaven’s kitchen but like always you lack vouchers in the beginning and have too many in the end. This was especially true, because I always had shifts during the meal times, something I will avoid next time. However I can positively note that the available catering offered more variety and most importantly more hot meals than the CCH.
The location of the hotel also limited the time I was able to stay at the congress, since the tram line driving to the hotel didn’t benefit from the better connections of the tram line driving to the congress and therefore didn’t drive through the night. Then again, there would not have been many things to do after the last talks were over. That reinforced a bit the CeBIT feeling. The layout was good for huge amounts of people but the spirit and charm of all the small things in the CCH was gone.
If the goal of the congress are more professionalized conference processes than this new location is wonderful. But if it supposed to maintain the community spirit of previous congresses many things must be improved for 35C3. First and foremost a lot more content must be available per square meter. Right now the space may be bigger but the relative amount of content per square meter is lower, which makes the entire experience more stressed.
I know that a lot of this has been negative and more will come but I’d like to start with that and then mention the good parts. Coupled with the many hours needed for a T-Shirt at the beginning, the unfitting times for angel meetings, many already booked out shifts on the 26th and less breaks in the lecture schedule, the experience was everything but great. In 2016 there were consistent breaks between 15:00 and 16:00 and between 19:30 and 20:30. The talks by the way didn’t start earlier. In 2017 there was only one break to be found which was consistent across all lecture halls and days and that was between 17:30 and 18:30. With the afternoon and evening breaks in 2016 it was possible to have two meals without missing a talk. In 2017 there was only one time frame to get a meal and not miss something. It was so early that you were hungry again before midnight. The longer walking times but not longer breaks between the talks made it also more difficult to quickly eat some small thing (e.g. an ice cream) before the next talk. In the CCH it was certainly possible for most talks (except for the really big talks) to go to Heaven between the talks, talk to people, go to toilet there, eat a bit and then go back to the next talk. In the new location you need almost the entire time to go from one hall to the other and there is no food just outside the lecture halls. The nearest food is almost always 5 minutes away.
If I would end at this point, the summary of the congress would be devastating. But it’s not over yet.
There were many great talks and I sadly experienced only a handful of talks. The second day of congress was the only one where I could visit some more talks. The talk with Snowden was definitely the most memorable one. There were many more world history like talks but I sadly visited far fewer talks than at 33C3 so I couldn’t visit most of them. The talks that I did visit where mostly great. Another positive aspect were the many great people I saw and spoke to during the congress. It’s always nice to catch up and meet friends you otherwise don’t see. In addition it always feels good to be a part of world history or witness it happening right next to you.
Furthermore I used the time during the congress to finish the relaunch of my website. The relaunched website will form the base for better coordinated activity in the year 2018. Thanks to some immediate feedback I was able to fix some glaring issues related to the mobile friendliness of the website. This website also brought with it a lot more motivation for activity going forward.
I drove back to Hamburg on the 31st December. This allowed me to explore some areas of Leipzig. I used the time between check-out at the hotel and the departure of the ICE to walk trough the inner city of Leipzig and visit the Völkerschlachtdenkmal. Along the way I have made some images which illustrate this very well. Therefore I will show these images in the following section with a bit of explanation for some images. There are MANY images.
First of are some images from the S-Bahn station at the central station. However these were made during the 3