A look back at GPN20

Posted: 2022-05-26 15:49:25 |
Last update: 2022-05-26 15:57:51

What is the Gulaschprogrammiernacht

While I doubt many of my readers don't know this yet, here's a bit of an explanation what this event is:
The GPN is a (usually) yearly event in Karlsruhe where hackers, makers and anyone who feels like it come together to work on projects, listen to talks, socialise and eat gulasch.
Like the congress in winter, it's four days long but unlike congress, there are no entry fees.
The event is held at a public space where everyone is free to wander in and look at what people are doing. This adds a lot of openness and definitely gives the event its very distinct character.
Also, unlike congress, GPN is held in a time and place where temperatures are warm and pleasant, so a large part of the event takes place outside.

But isn't there still a pandemic going on?

I am not one of the people who pretend that the COVID-19 pandemic is over. I still take many precautions and rarely leave my appartment.
However, with our government having basically given up preventing the spread and loosened even the most easy and common sense regulations we had (mask mandate in supermarkets and at protests) most of society seems to have forgotten that there is a deadly virus going around.
Since this is the case, I do not believe that this pandemic is ever going to end. Without the political will and collaboration of almost the entire society, we will never be able to end this.

This is why I decided for myself that I am going to try enjoying myself outside again. Staying inside for more than two years has taken a huge toll on my mental health and while I am terrified of catching COVID and ending up with long COVID, the depression caused by not doing anything outside basically has all the same symptoms.
I am vaccinated four times, got tested multiple times during the event and I wore my mask basically all the time while inside (I held one of my talks without it, but that was with quite a bit of distance between me and the crowd), so my personal risk and the risk of getting anyone else sick were low enough that I felt safe attending.
Another thing that made me feel safe was the fact that there was a strict mask mandate which was actually enforced. According to the infrastructure review only a low double digit number of people did not wear a mask and had to be thrown out. This is a much better rate than any supermarket or S-Bahn I've been in during the last 2+ years!
Also, hackers seem to know how to wear their mask correctly. I did not see a single person who was obviously breathing through a gap between it and their face, yet again better than anywhere else I've been.
I think the two times I went to get groceries during GPN were more dangerous than any of the time I spent at the event itself.


My overall experience

Before the event I was a bit anxious about the socialising aspect of it. I had barely seen my any of my friends in so long that I basically forgot how to human.
That's no problem with my friends though because they don't really care about somebody's ability to human, many not even identifying with that species themselves.

While I was there, I was able to meet multiple wonderful people with whom I had only communicated over the internet before and it was great.
Now that I met them offline, I do miss them more than I did before though.

I spent most of the event outside, my incompatibility with air conditioning and the overall discomfort of wearing a mask at all times made watching talks live seem worse than just watching the recordings afterwards.
While there were not many places where one could sit comfortably, the outside of the ZKM (where the event took place) was still really nice to be at, with lots of visibly queer people walking around, and a general "vibe" that I really enjoyed.

My talks

This being my first in person event since congress 2019, I was itching to hold a talk in front of a live audience.
The day the CFP went up, I proposed three different talks, hoping that at least one of them would be accepted.
All three were.

Two of my talks were extended remakes of talks I already held at DiVOC last year, while the third one was completely new.
Putting them all together within the three weeks I had between getting the approval email and the event starting was quite a lot of work and I could definitely use a vacation now that it's all over but it did work out in the end.

The first talk I held was about putting emoji where they don't belong. It also was the first talk after the opening so I was quite nervous, which can be seen in the recording, especially when looking at just how much my mask was expanding when I was breathing out.
What did not help was that I had forgotten my antidepressants at home and had to take a dose twice as large as usual because that was the only thing available to me at that point.
Anyways, I still think that the talk worked out pretty well and it definitely is worth a watch if you haven't seen it already.

My second talk was about how deceptive design patterns manipulate users.
It took place in the largest room at the venue, which was half empty. That was probably due to the talk being "in the middle of the night" (at 12:15 pm) when most people were still sleeping but it still felt weird after being in a full room with people sitting on the floor a day earlier.
I would say it also went pretty well although I have not watched the recording yet.

The third and final talk I held was about the infrastructure I'm currently using to serve this blog post to you: My personal Kubernetes cluster.
It was at the smallest room available, which was a shame since apparently there were multiple people who wanted to but could not get in.
It also was probably the best talk of the bunch, me having acclimated to speaking in front of people and being a lot more free in how I presented my slides.
Talking about this was interesting because other than the first two, this was not about how other people (intentionally) mess up their stuff but rather about how I built my (hopefully not too messed up) infra.

For this event, I prepared all of my talks using the browser version of Keynote, the presentation program developed by Apple.
I believe Keynote to be the best presentation tool out there because it is the only one I don't feel like I have to relearn every time I prepare a new slide deck.
Sadly, the browser version is not even close to being as good as the desktop one, not being able to add or play videos, so I had to hold my presentations using my iPad, instead of my laptop, which was annoying but worked out pretty well.
For my next talks I will probably switch back to Google Slides because that tool does not seem to have any issues running in the browser.


It was really good to be outside and around people who are similar to me again.
I dislike the "finally normal people" sentiment some people have at these events because we are not normal, we're queer, neurodiverse, and just weird and that is what makes us so nice to be around.
Being there I was able to socialise more than I did in the literal years leading up to the event, I got to hold three talks in front of people who really seemed to be interested in what I had to say, and I developed a non actionable crush on someone who's name I don't even know.
– So basically like every other chaos event just with the addition of wearing masks.

It was great and I look forward to seeing everyone again, hopefully very soon!