Only a few days till the 30th Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg #30C3, where I'll be talking with @matusound on Romantic literature, public space/high-density environments, visual analysis and surveillance – "Policing the Romantic Crowd" for short. (See Violet Blue's ZDNet blog on the CCC's history and line-up.)
With kinetic protests in Hamburg over the weekend (7,000 in the streets protesting against plans to carry out evictions at squatted theatre Rote Flora, a rallying point for activists), and student demonstrations this month in London (#copsoffcampus), it's timely to explore what the Romantics' understanding of crowds – the "push", in Romantic slang – has to contribute to current debates about politics and public space.
The Romantic era was an age of crowds – from revolutionary Parisian mobs to the enormous 60,000-300,000-strong gatherings in London and Manchester in the Summer and Autumn of 1819 protesting against the price of bread, corrupt politicians and lack of parliamentary representation. What animated crowds? How was information transmitted across them? What was the legal status of the individual in the "push"? And how did art and literature model the psychological impacts of surveilled public space? Recent events serve as a salutary reminder of how these urgent modalities of Romantic inquiry underly some of the most significant C21 ethical, legal and social debates.
Our talk – in the Ethics, Society and Politics track – sets out to bring together different knowledge domains. Where else can you hear about velocipedes, Frankenstein's creature, and a quantum Keats in two crowds at once?
Like all talks at #30C3 – including Glen Greenwald's much-anticipated keynote, Jacob Appelbaum's and Julian Assange's "Sysadmins of the World, Unite!", and Natalie Silvanovich's talk on reverse engineering Tamagotchis – ours will be live-streamed.
Here's our "Romantic Hackers" talk from last year's congress, #29C3, to be getting on with till 5.30pm on 27 December. Looking forward to blogging about the conference on our return!