Digital Orgy

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
20 February, 2018
Editorial: 178
Fecha de publicación original: 27 julio, 1999

An ounce of practice is worth a pound of precept

Young people are aware of the fact that they understand culture differently. And if that culture nowadays manifests itself, to a large extent, through computers, nothing could be better than to spend a few days shut up in a room full of machines, cables, modems, programmes, video games etc., organising an orgiastic encounter where the digital becomes the love nest of pleasure. Right now, hundreds of young people from all over Spain and the rest of Europe are putting their computers into their backpacks and setting off for the Centro Eurolatinoamericano de Juventud (Ceulaj), in Mollina, a small village in the province of Malaga, where a “Campus Party” will be held from 2 to 8 of August to celebrate the glories of the information era and net culture. For many of them, it will be a voyage of initiation. For others, proof that the century to come belongs to them. They will all be seeking confirmation of their premonitions in the bosom of this tribal reunion.

In the north of Europe, the “Campus Party” is already a ten year old tradition and, when one is talking of young people, computers and networks, that is a very long time – an era, in fact. Kids work for months to polish up their work : demos, models, , modules, etc., of video games, programmes, music, or new ways of making the complicated programming packages sold by big corporations easier. And, then, they get together with their computers to work for a few days, share experiences, discover new and hitherto unknown pathways, learning as they teach and vice versa. These get togethers have, over time, become veritable seasonal events, like the mating season. If teachers, lecturers, pedagogues or those responsible for education policies took the time to pay these “parties” a visit, perhaps we wouldn’t need to waste so much time arguing that education needs to adapt quickly to accommodate those who move about the virtual world like hippopotamuses in a river.

The “parties” express the essence of tribes created by the networks and creators of the networks, those who look to the new millennium like people looking forward to reaching home territory, a territory that they are mapping out daily through new knowledge and exploration. What percentage of the population uses computers at the moment, or the threat of an unstoppable descent into “social fragmentation, loneliness and isolation” matters little to them. They just get together under their giant marquee asking only for wall sockets. They will sort out puzzling societal conundrums even if it is through a catalogue of acronyms more akin to a UN guidebook than a fun get-together. 1,000 people attended the “Party ’98” last year. This year there has been a waiting list for months and lots of people lighting candles in the hope that someone will drop out. The goodies on offer are not to be sniffed at: apart from computers –everybody has to bring their own–, sponsors have installed more than a million euros worth of material, from local network services to video, games, graphics and music servers etc.

The venue — as opposed to other occasions– now includes habitable buildings, a sports centre, projection and conference rooms, a camping site, swimming pool, dining room and very inviting temperatures for life far from computers (oops! that’s a comment from another era). So really everything is set, from the mood of participants to the equipment, for a deep dive through the screen to inspect the digital depths of a changing era. Of course, those that can’t be there in person won’t be missing out on the conferences, courses, competitions or the intelligence distributed through the Ceulaj network. The Internet will have a window open every day of the event to extend the radius of participation, even making it possible to participate in the debates. Those who choose to be there this way will have the advantage of not having to declare or disclose their age. Although they might give themselves away if they ask certain questions.

Translation: Bridget King