I’m part of the organizing team of Electromagnetic Field, a non-profit camping festival we’re planning for later this month. It’s the first event of this kind in the UK, and the UK hacker/maker community is already pretty excited by the prospect. From 31 August to 2 September, in a field near Milton Keynes, we’re bringing together a large crowd of makers, hackers, scientists, artists, DIY enthusiasts, … to essentially have a hackspace on a field.
There’s already a long list of participating organizations, including many of the UK’s hackerspaces, makespaces, and other community organizations, all determined to turn this weekend into something special. There will be talks and workshops with an impressive range of topics, from DIY genetics to crochet at scale, Ben Goldacre speaking on Big Pharma, a blacksmithing workshop, a Minecraft village, and much more. (Do get in touch if you would like to propose a talk or workshop!) But there are also plenty of opportunities to socialize and hang out with new people. And the nature of the situation will result in many chances to make and to improvise.
The camp site has plenty of good things to offer: lots of space, an interesting layout that will provide ample opportunities for people to erect their own hangout spots, access to a bridge underpass where we’ll likely set up the bar… There’ll be high bandwidth Internet, power for your village, large tents for talks, workshops, and hacking sessions, good toilets and showers, and more :)
Since it’s the first time we’re doing this we’ve been looking closely at Chaos Communication Camp, Hacking at Random, Toorcamp and other hacker camps for inspiration. One of the things we liked about their approach to hacker festivals are the village concept, something we’re adopting as well. Villages are dedicated camping areas for particular groups, with shared infrastructure (e.g. access to power and Internet.) Think of them as your local pub or community center: they are the natural gathering points for the entire camp. This makes it easier for people to get to know each other and encourages collaboration while at the festival, be it for cooking sessions or to build ambitious installations.
There’s loads more. Check out the blog, the wiki, the mailing list, … There’s still much to do for us, but after weeks and months of preparation things are now starting to come together for us. We’re all very excited!
(I should also mention that a festival like this wouldn’t work without many volunteers; as you imagine there is loads to do, so please do register as a volunteer when you buy your ticket. It’s not only a great opportunity to help create something special, it’s also a great way to meet new people.)