Tenting tonight, Tenting tonight, tenting on the Campus Party grounds!


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jun 02, 2011 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


Yesterday I accepted a long-term, half-time contract with Futura Networks SL, the producers of “Campus Party”.


I have written before about Campus Party, which started in Spain 1n 1997 and has since spread to Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico.


It is hard to describe Campus Party, but the formula basically is to take a very big convention hall, bring together lots of electricity, lots of Internet capacity, and many thousands of college, post-college and “older”.....geeks to share ideas and discuss what they are doing.


I hesitate to use the term “geek”, because it so often gets confused with the term “nerd”, the latter being someone who typically has no social skills. The majority of participants at Campus Party are certainly people who are “social”, and love to talk to other people and exchange ideas. While all of them bring their computers of every type (desktops, towers, modded cases, and just plain laptops), they also bring guitars and other musical instruments, cameras, board games, cards and other “social” equipment.


Part of the Campus Party mystique is that once you are inside the building, day fades into night and people only sleep when they are exhausted. Indeed, tents and food are provided (yes, and showers too) so people do not have to leave the premises for an entire week. Sometimes air mattresses migrate from the camping area to right beside their computer systems, and people can be seen “catching up” on their sleep twenty minutes at a time.


Add to this the presence of inspirational speakers such as Tim Berners-Lee, Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, musicians, artists, astronauts and scientists of all types, and you get a mixture that inspires people to work harder and exchange more.


While there are “gamers” competing with each other over the low-latency, high capacity Internet, there are also people comparing notes on how they “modded” their computer, multimedia, Free Software, Astronomy, hardware design, robotics, and many other aspects of computing.


There is so much Internet traffic, both wired and wireless, at Campus Party that Telefonica (one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world) uses the events to test their new routers and routing technologies.


I have also seen “Campuseros and Campuseras” (as the attendees are called) putting on their own talks in front of large crowds of other attendees, honing their presentation skills as well as their technical skills.


Campus Party is more than just a “LAN Party” however, with programs for the environment, digital inclusion, and trying to improve life in general through the technologies of telecommunications and the Internet.


The founders, Paco Ragageles, Belinda Galiano and Pablo Antón are great people to work with (although trying to follow Paco around for a day reminds me that I am now physically over sixty years old and not twenty-four any more) and I look forward to working with them to make Campus Party even better than it is today.


Some of the reasons I took this job is that I enjoy working with young people, and about 95% of the attendees are under the age of twenty-five. Secondly, while not all of Campus Party is Free Culture oriented, there are enough attendees that understand and enjoy the goals of Free Culture that I can work with them. And we get to spread the Free Culture message to other people.


Third, the Campus Party people were willing to hire me part-time and (except when I am participating at Campus Party events) I can work out of my home or while traveling at other events.


It is, of course, important for me to keep connected with my Free Software roots, and to attend many of the conferences (and seeing the friends) that I have been attending (and making) over the years.


Finally, while Campus Party started in Spain, and has been spreading throughout Latin America (and I enjoy working with my Latin American friends) next year (2012) they plan on having a Campus Party in the United States. It is my goal to help them make that Campus Party the best ever.

Carpe Diem!


  • CP in Britania

    I was not working for Futura Networks when they were making the decisions about which country to have CP in next. I feel that given the size of the event, they are probably expanding as fast as they can and still maintain the quality.
  • Something for the UK

    This sounds like the increasingly popular "BarCamp" and "Unconference" events that have been growing in popularity in the UK.

    The difference being that the UK events are organised on a shoestring budget with intelligent people all turning up and taking time to talk about what they are interested in. Any attendee can (and is encouraged to) be a speaker. Sharing knowledge, information, ideas and understanding. There are no "key note" speakers (both an advantage and disadvantage).

    Is there a reason why "Campus Party" does not (appear to) operate in the UK?
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