its 9am tuesday morning and has been 1 week and 1 day since i returned from the #lote conference / #edgecamp unconference in strasbourg.
i’ve waited this long to put my fingers to the keyboard to write something, as frankly i didn’t know where to begin - and in some respects i still don’t, i’m still decompressing.
for the last week i have been trying to digest the conversations, ideas, and deeper meanings of conversations i was party to last week and have failed. i get the feeling that it will take months perhaps even years for the true outcome of the weekend to make itself apparent.
what the institution saw was 150-200 people brought together by the council of europe to discuss the ‘emergent world young Europeans are building’ in order for the edgeryders team to report back to the council on the transition of european youth to independent lifestyle.
i’ve split the post into some high level points (for me), that were takeaways from the conference and my emotional feelings about the event as a whole.
1. key points
discussions in the plenary sessions were polite, with most points nuanced and well made. only rarely did some real facts breakthrough:
Property Rights were openly challenged repeatedly by people from all around europe. remarkably the experiences of panelist A. Zabatino of the Italian occupation/squatting movement re-appropriating and re-opening closed public spaces, theaters etc. were given center stage.
Complete Collapse - perhaps best thing about this was the first mention of this fear was by Spyros Pengas - the Deputy Mayor of the city of thessaloniki - quote: “Europe is going to explode”
Left / Right politics is old and outmoded, networked individuals take up issues and then move on. anti ACTA activist (amongst other things) @rysiekpl’s point that all issues should be apolitical was very telling
and from the second day and the break out sessions a few more key points:
> resilience needs to be rebranded
> the transition towns movement has a huge PR problem (to many beards, socks/sandals and lentils)
> nobody expects full employment, merely productive employment
> the internet has changed everything (note past tense)
the sessions in the main conference for me was an exercise in establishing what we all agreed upon, and not where we had difference of opinion.
you could have argued with some of the people in that room for hours about traditional politics, and then find yourself in the next moment agreeing 100% with them on the emergence of network centric politics. and indeed i did - (thanks andrea latino
Had this been the end of the conference i think we could have all gone home with the sentiment expressed by @irma_evolve:
“The depth of Gilda Farrels’ (council of Europe) comprehension of the messages from the edge, I find very touching #LOTE”
but it wasn’t the end.
it is what happened outside of the agora building and away from the council sessions that perhaps has exploded so many of the attendees minds. whether it was over free wine at the gallery, drinks at a bar, beers in the hostel, or wine down by the canal. you were never more than moments away from having another new mind blowing conversation with someone about what they were doing with their lives, or one of the many interdisciplinary interests the we as individuals all have…
the huge number of interests / activities people have makes me question the usefulness of a traditional ‘CV’
3. more than flesh
there has been a lot of talk in the blog/twitter circles i follow recently about the death of ‘cyberpunk’ as a fictional genre - there is good reason…
at #lote / #edgecamp digital identities merged with the physical and we manifested as cyborgs. the gigantic twitterwall behind the speakers at the conference brought home to me the depth of the augmented reality that we exist in.
brought together in space by the conference, and in the virtual by a #hashtag.
over the weekend, we put faces to twitter handles and names to pseudonyms. I realised some of the attendees have been bleeding into my feed long before i met them in strasbourg.
Lawrence Person once said “Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information[…].”
at edgecamp i met stateless individuals, moneyless individuals, engineers, artists, activists and coders and many more. sometimes people were all these things, sometimes they were none. but everyone was shiny with energy and the mindset of getting things done - either alongside or outside of the traditional institution that had invited us.
we are all cyberpunks now.
a nuanced and complex understanding of power was prevalent throughout people’s discourse. which was a key difference between meeting edgeryders and my experiences meeting people engaged in traditional left/right national politics.
during some sessions at the unconference things were said that have allowed me mentally to begin to unfold the idea of network centric & infrastructure-as-state world model. things being said by european youth in these sessions would have scared the shit out of traditional state actors, and the solidarity with the global poor was heartening.
in the event of collapse or ‘an event’ the game of ‘political triage’ or/IE ‘who do WE save’ was not well received.
keeping everyone alive is the mission, and what that looks like is radically different form the kind of society we see today.
im not too sure where im going with this post, as i said: im finding it difficult to process and unpack the events of last weekend and i intend to post on this topic again.
however, things are already in motion born from relationships made, and seeds sown in strasbourg: i hope to see as many london-ish based edgeryders as we can get at the london meet up on july the 5th
i would also like to say a big thank you to the CoE and Edgeryders team for organising the event and launching the platform, the social capital and connections given to us last weekend will be paying itself off for years.