From a city boy point of view: EMF Camp 2022

EMF Camp complete with Lasers
The lovely picture of EMF Camp 2022 from the Null Sector complete with lazers!

I have always wanted to go to Burning man but don’t think I could ever do it due to the extreme heat. I remember hearing about a similar type event in the Netherlands (what the hack) ages ago then soon afterwards Electromagnetic Field in the UK.

EMFCamp is hacker conference over 3 days in glorious sunshine complete with power and wifi to your own tent. In theory it sounds amazing right? Well it is but for a city boy like me, its less appealing. However this year I put in a free 2hour workshop around Adaptive Podcasting and it was accepted. I had planned to stay in a hotel and go back and forth with my scooter (although I didn’t really fancy those country lanes in the dark.

However my wonderful partner suggested going together and somewhat glamping in her huge tent. On top of this we had a bunch of friends coming from Manchester, so we created a mini village together. This with fridges, BBQs, power and amazing wifi made my festival/camping experience well worth it. Can’t imagine doing it any other way now.

Ian and Alison together in the sun
Glamping it up with my beautiful partner

I’ll be honest we packed too much and the second tent was useful for our bags, duplicate items and things we didn’t need.  If it wasn’t for my partner and friends it likely would have been a completely different experience.

Because of this I had a great time. Everywhere I went I bumped into old friends from all over – going way back to my time in London and the many conferences I went to during the BBC Backstage days. It was a total blast and I’m sorry to anyone I missed.

So much talking and socialising, I didn’t get much time to join the talks and workshops. However I did attend a few including one about trackers (music mod trackers), although with my Ubuntu Dell XPS slightly broken at the moment (it doesn’t know any of the onboard devices including the keyboard unless plugged in) it was going to be a big hassle installing an Amiga emulator on my Chromebook just to run Protracker. Instead I spent time trying to find a Android app, then blowing away my Debian setup on the Chromebook and starting again (for some reason I couldn’t sudo at all). Once I got that working, I ran the incredible Fasttracker2 and Milkytracker.

Eugenie von Tunzelmann on stage

We also got to see Interstellar on the big screen again, although I really wished I brought my sock hat and gloves! But the Q&A with the SFX artist was great, even if the question I wanted to ask might have spoiled the film for others (of course I didn’t ask it). I think the assumption was that everyone had seen it but the moderator asked and lots of hands were raised saying they had not seen it before, including my partner.

On the Sunday I got to a few talks including Why is it so hard to do nice things that make a difference with other people? Which I did enjoy even if time ran out, however the whole talk is here.

I do have to say my biggest highlight was djing live in the null sector. I followed a DJ on a laptop playing hard house till midnight so the BPM was high but I started with the classic Stella and the shock to the dancefloor was self-evident. So I threw together some tech trance and kept the BPM about 135-ish. Unfortunately I forgot to record the pacemaker set as I was messing around with the mixer and trying to make the transition smooth.

Djing live with the Pacemaker device at EMF Camp 2022
Djing live with the Pacemaker device at EMF Camp 2022

The slot was the last one of the night (0000-0130) and it was about 0115 when I asked how long I got left. He replied well legally we need to stop at 0200. So I played for 2 hours-ish… I say-ish because there was 4 mins when the electricity to the mixer was over loaded and people were trying to fix it. Also I had planned 90mins and was absolutely bursting for the toilet. Unlike a club where the toilets are only a few minutes away and most DJs would stick on a longer track (in my case 11mins of Acid Trax might have worked in retrospect) I knew the toilets were outside in the camp site somewhere. So at 0156 from the end, I faded down Ferry Corsten’s Anahera (only the very end). Although the crowd shouted one more – one more. Packed up quickly and make a quick exit.

Loved every moment of it and lots of people wondering what on earth the pacemaker was… Its 15 years old and still going strong!

EMF Camp site

EMF Camp was great generally, even for a city boy like me. There were some interesting situations but as a whole it was great with good people, good facilities and a wonderful partner to explore something new with too. As EMF is once every 2 years, its very likely I may go back.

Massive thanks to everyone and the massive amount of volunteers which make the whole festival work. I’ll be back but not too soon…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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