In December 2017, I attended the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, Germany. It was my first time attending this series after following the updates on social media and watching the videos on YouTube. Being based in Berlin, I was very keen to go.
I was able to obtain a voucher to purchase the ticket before it went on sale to the wider public since they followed a staged system for releasing tickets. As soon as my ticket purchase has gone through, I booked my accommodation.
However, just after a week before the Congress I became very ill. Like not being able to speak a word or two or go by for a minute without coughing type of ill. I proceeded to cancel my accommodation on Christmas Day as I was set to leave on Boxing Day. Gave me a bit of time to recuperate. On the day before, I felt considerably better so I was able to go on the final two days and one night of the Congress.
So, below are just some disjointed notes about Congress. Not so much about the material and any issues surrounding it. Also this is mainly based around my experiences of Leipzig and the venue and city could very well change.
Leipzig is about 2 hours by bus or car and maybe a bit quicker by train. It’s easy to reach Leipzig from Berlin and in turn Berlin is a major transport hub for Germany.
Flixbus has a direct stop outside the convention centre so I chose Flixbus as my option. In my mind, I was thinking that everything would be packed and there’ll be queues all over the place but that didn’t really happen in the two days that I was in there.
Accommodation and Transport
In Leipzig, there is not a lot of options available for accommodation - such as AirBnB, hotels, hostels, and so on - especially if you leave last minute to book. Consider looking into options in the surrounding areas but doing this is much better if you have a car, or have the budget to catch the taxi or willing to spend more time in public transport.
The venue itself is fairly safe in the evening in that there are people still out at night, there is a taxi rank outside and I did see some official car (maybe transport authority?) with someone inside that was parked outside the tram stop.
You can walk to and from the S-Bahn Messe but there is something like an 8-11 minute walk from the venue along a road only serviced for the tramlines.
Food and drinks
So, I’m only aware of the food stalls but there was not much variety. There was stalls for vegetarian food, hot dogs, pizza, potato chips, noodles and so on. There are a couple of smaller food cafes (not really restaurant) serving wraps, sandwiches, burgers, pastries, etc. On the last day, I did pack a couple of food items from Aldi. Everyone has different tastes so you can go to the city centre for more options.
Scheduling your days
Since I only had two days and one night of talks, I wanted to keep things to a schedule. Look out for the CCC Fahrplan which contains the schedules of the main talks. Also look out for a wiki containing the schedule for the self-organized sessions held in the smaller meeting room. This is just a starting point since there are many things that you can do. For example there might be a workshop that you have to sign up for and line up, or impromptu meetings/meetups or you want to meet people you know. This is what I like about CCC since it’s not the standard bread-and-butter conference plan that you are used to. And I wouldn’t really think of it as a conference either.
The issue at the actual venue was that I had some problems locating where these smaller meeting rooms are as I wanted to attend one or two meetings and gave up.
I’m not familiar with the nighttime events except for the final after-party, but there were some DJs and other music sets that start at the end of the day.
Another thing is that many of the talks go late into the evening - something that I didn’t realize until I looked at the Fahrplan. Initially, I was thinking of traveling to and from Leipzig to Berlin and only going during the day but I would miss out on a lot of good talks in the evening.
Figuring out which talks to go to
I mainly judged the talks based on headline and a quick read for more info. I don’t recommend this, since I’ve found a couple of talks that turned out to be different to what I expected it to be.
The Congress runs along tracks (science, security, art and culture, ethics) so you should be mindful of which track it is on.
Another thing is that talks are either in German or English. The language is coded on the schedule. There is no live translation involved, but you can catch the translated versions online on the CCC YouTube media list.
Other useful links
The following are potentially useful links for the future.
Website - http://ccc.de/
CCC event blog - https://events.ccc.de/
Thanks for your time!