It's a rite of passage that has returned to prominence in recent years, the Youth Of Today like their hippy grandparents attend outdoor music festivals. They go and camp for three days in a quagmire, acquire assorted ailments and parasites, have half their stuff nicked, suffer appalling toilets, and get horribly sunburned while listening to poorly mixed and distorted music.
At least, this is what we are led to believe when listening to the survivor tales.
As a member of the generation for whom festivals were not a mainstream activity I have to admit I didn't know what to expect when I attended my first similar event last week. It's important to note though that this was not a music festival but a hacker camp. Several thousand assorted makers, hackers, and other technically inclined people camping in a field in Surrey for four nights, surrounded by a dizzying array of talks and presentations, and all bringing along their own creations to show off to the rest of the community. Every structure on site from the largest marquee to the smallest one-person tent had mains power and super-fast internet, and every hackspace, user group, or other organisation had its own section of the campsite. The toilets are best forgotten but the showers were rather good, the catering was passable, and there was plenty of beer and cider on tap. I made a good call by bringing along decent bogroll and a Dettol spray.
To find yourself among many thousands of your own community is liberating. You can drop seamlessly into conversations about things that elicit blank stares from the average Joe: how to optimise the efficiency of a coupled-inductor flyback converter for example, or whether an electric monowheel could be practical transport.
I was pleased to bump into more than one person from this community on the site as well. As I write technical articles in the maker sphere my name is not unknown, but though I'm in no closet I suspect most readers have no idea I'm trans. Attending this event had something of an outing about it, as there was no place to hide. So a group of us ended whiling away some time around a smoking BBQ, talking about anything but being trans. Which was in itself quite refreshing.
It's something I now understand, why old hippies still go on about the Isle of Wight festival or Woodstock. I've got a major case of festival withdrawal, and so have all my hackspace friends. It's another two years until the next one, that's going to be a long time.