What can you reasonably expect from an event that is organized by volunteers, distributed and unable to meet in person in the Corona-year 2020? A lot more than you would expect. The rC3 was the result of a gargantuan effort and - given it was developed over six weeks, it shows the community is strong.

The technology

And yes, not everything worked perfectly, and a lot of new things were tried that did not work out very well, we were very much seeing a prototype in production sometimes:

The new Fahrplan was not very intuitive to use. A more traditional, “Calendar”-style approach would have worked better than a long list of events with identical sizes regardless of duration.

The board was a poor substitute for an actual wiki, which would have allowed for better information sharing between participants. Instead, we got essentially a 1990s-era guestbook from which old entries constantly disappeared (and which quickly became a list of messages of people who complained about stuff not working).

The messages were a nice feature, but for most people I talked to, it was only used once - when the C3Leaks were announced in the night of day 3.

The 2D world … when it worked, and it did not work for me more often than it did, it was a nice idea. Unfortunately, without an explanation, it was easy to understand it as a JRPG-inspired chatroom. Only on day three I became aware that there were places that had special functionality. Only on day four I realized that the spaces were hosting workshops. The maps, often created as true pieces of love, were eerily empty too often, and without a wiki, there was no way to map them, or interesting parts about individual rooms.

Maybe a mini map would have been helpful.

I would love the 2D world to continue to exist - but as I am writing this, it is pretty obvious that the team is simulating a “virtual breakdown” of the structure, as evidenced by broken transporters and disappearing features. This is unfortunate. the idea of a “virtual Erfa”, especially for folks like me who live too far away from a physical one, sounds like a good idea.

Other things I have missed

  • The Lightning Talks always were a great idea to unwind for a minute and get a quick shot of new ideas and new projects. This could have been replicated, IMHO, by having people send in small videos of themselves presenting their ideas (max 5 minutes), and showing them in a loop maybe during the night.

  • The placeholder cards between talks used to have “ads” for projects and chaos-friendly places or events in the past. That, too, made the offline Congresses more colorful and helped people getting the word out for their project - and for visitors to become aware of them. I would like to see that return.

  • There ought to be some way to show more information, and even small Congress quasimemes (like the 36C3 “Birds don’t exist” paper trail war). It just adds so much to the experience.

The talks

The talks were nicer this year, more technical, more in-depth. Maybe this is merely subjective - not having to switch rooms over a large trade fair location made me switch between talks more often. Generally, though, I would like this trend to continue.

If you watch only one talk this year, I would suggest it to be “#Cryptoleaks” by Peter F. Müller and friends about the Swiss Crypto AG and how German and US intelligence agencies infiltrated and puppeteered a Swiss cryptographic company: Link to the talk. (At the time if writing this, this was still an uncut version which has about half an hour of Fahrplan information in front of it. Just skip over it. I expect there will be a better cropped version around in the coming days).

Final thoughts

I am grateful two everyone who participated to make this happen - I would not have thought this to be possible, and in so little time. A lot of good ideas were started here. Let’s make it better the next time this becomes necessary (even though we hope for a 37C3, with the current vaccination plan, I would not be surprised if we saw a 2rc3 next year).