As part of our work, we try to invite special speakers who may not yet know what MCH is, and have no idea of our rich history and relevance.
When approaching outside speakers, we therefore need to introduce ourselves properly. The goal is to honestly inform the speaker about:
- Why our audience is interested in them
- Why they could have a great time with us (important!)
- How presenting at MCH might help them further their goals
- Which similar speakers have presented at our events earlier
- How they might personally learn from the event
- Any personal connection they might have with our events
- That our events are family friendly - you can bring your partner and kids if you want
When I say "our events", feel free to also mention CCC congress/camps, it helps for context.
Our special speakers get a lot of requests to speak. We need to make sure we are different and interesting.
Here is a slightly edited email I sent to a European Commission official who reacted favourably:
[some personal stuff, demonstrating any personal connection you might have to the speaker. Stuff like I attended this or that event where you also presented]
Anyhow, I have something to ask - every four years there is a large socially engaged hacker conference in The Netherlands, attended by 3000 people, many of them bringing their families. It is an outdoors event, with most people staying in caravans or tents. There is also a speaker hotel (because this is why I am emailing you).
I've been presenting at these conferences (every 4 years) since 2009, and in 2021 there will be another one. Some description is on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack-Tic Attendance is highly international, with particularly strong Belgian, Dutch and German representation. Various European countries host their own "embassies" there, Finland tends to bring its own portable sauna for example. Flanders has its own field typically.
Since its beginning, which I more or less accidentally attended, this has been a very engaged forum, exploring the boundaries and interfaces between freedom, privacy, safety, but also topics like the digital gap, where we were worried the Internet would end up only being used by the elite. We got that one wrong :-)
As an example of the unique status of this conference, the Dutch national forensics institute, national police and even our intelligence services tend to attend - as actual participants (although the intelligence people of course try to not stand out).
Attendees would call themselves hackers, but most of them work at infrastructure companies, or author the code that powers the internet etc. It is very much a conference full of people that touch the core of the internet.
Although these events were of course initially not very government friendly, over the years we've come to realize that governments can also be a force for good. Oddly enough there is somewhat more love for the EU (which brought us the GDPR, which the hacker scene loves), than for national governments.
For the 2021 event, which we hope to organize in August 2021 (fingers crossed), I was asked to be on "team content". We strive to find speakers that can tell interesting things to an audience rich with informed people who would like to know more.
So, my question is: can we convince you to do a presentation on one of our stages? Feel free to pick a topic, but the obvious choice is of course xxx
Doing a presentation for this audience can bring several benefits to your mission. For one, in the longer term, it is helpful for recruitment. It shows that actual people work at the EC, and that they care about the internet. Even in the shorter term this might be helpful.
Secondly, there is an extremely high concentration of knowledgeable and relevant parties present. Next to the obvious privacy fighters (EFF, bits of freedom etc), many implementors of strong encryption and operators of communication platforms are also present.
Also perhaps useful, it is an almost entirely lobby free zone. Chances are you'll run into actual Google, Facebook, Apple employees that can speak their mind. And given the informal outdoors setting, many "tribal issues" between companies or governments and companies have been successfully and sometimes memorably resolved.
I'd also like to stress that that this is a very family friendly conference, which may make attending easier.
2017 speakers included:
- Bill Binney is a former Technical Director of the NSA who became a whisteblower over the failures of the agency to foresee and stop 9/11
- Marleen Stikker is president and co-founder of Waag Society, De Digitale Stad (The Digital City) in 1994, the first virtual community introducing free public access to the Internet. She is founder of aag, a social enterprise that consists of Waag Society, a research Institute for creative technologies and social innovation and Waag Products, that launched companies like Fairphone, the first fair smartphone in the world. She is also is advisor to the policy strategy group of the EU.
- Stephanie Wehner is a Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor at QuTech, Delft University of Technology, where she leads the Quantum Internet efforts.
The schedule consists of tracks, with bigger and smaller stages. A relevant presentation from Brussels would (I estimate) deserve the big stage and top billing, especially if the subject is exciting.
In any case, your presence would be most appreciated, and I think it could help you share the commission's point of view & present the commission with a human face to a relevant audience.
I know 2021 seems like it is years away, but with this early notice, I hope to have caught your attention in time, and I look forwards to hearing from you!