The Third EFF EdenFest Report

By Dennis Derryberry

Saturday, July 13, evening

Well, day two of the musical event of the decade in Ontario is winding up.

Onstage right now is the Tragically Hip, the overwhelming favorite of the hordes of Canadian fans who are camping sprawled across the grounds of the Mosport Speedway. The campsites are set up around the periphery, with the stage locations central to all. Looking out across the hills and racetrack infield one sees an endless sea of color: people, trees, sky, and tents, tents, tents.

With special unannounced guests still scheduled to appear, and an occasional helicopter overhead, rumors abound at the festival. Speculation about who that might be is circular at this point, but on another note I've heard it reported that there are over 75,000 vehicles onsite, belonging to concert-goers, event staff, security, concessionaires and many others attending Eden in support roles, which is pretty remarkable. I imagine that an event-wide victory lap on Monday morning is quite out of the question.

Mike, a contractor who spent five days prior to the event setting up trailers for the bands to use as dressing rooms, said, "A lot of people have worked their tails off for 72 hours of music, sunshine and partying." It's true. From a worker's perspective, the days are long and hot, the evenings quick, the night's rest even quicker, and the first rays of heat in the morning forcing the weary and the woozy onto their feet much earlier than desired. And of course, there are also those few who never make it to their tents before 'turning in'.

In general, I have been most impressed with the demeanor of the primarily Canadian crowd. Despite the temporary local population here at Eden, everyone has been friendly and relatively considerate for such close quarters and arid conditions.

Some of today's highlights:

It wouldn't really be 'Eden' or a music festival without people getting naked, right? Well, today, a man who I will call Naked Man became the first to truly get back to nature, strolling about the garden wearing nothing but shoes and a baseball hat. For at least two hours Naked Man was seen at various points within the 400-acre festival grounds, was followed as he roamed by cheers from the rest of the clothed, and occasionally even gave a little celebratory dance to thank his newfound fans. And the on-site camera crew even caught him in a few glorious seconds of crowd surfing, displayed on the jumbo-tron video monitors.

Back at the EFF booth in the Internet Expo tent, more fans sought refuge from the heat in the relatively cool, shaded environment. EFF's Blue Ribbon tattoos have been a big hit with visitors to the booth, who have been taking two or three of the free, temporary, body-decorating symbols of free expression online. The youngest advocate of free speech thus far has been a one-year-old riding around through the crowd in a back-rack with his mother. As the biggest feature of all babies is their heads, Mom chose the right spot for the icon-right on Junior's forehead!

"As hot as the sun has been this weekend, the only question I have is...Sunburn?"

People visiting EFF's booth have certainly presented an interesting mix of computer backgrounds. Visitors have ranged from systems administrators to people who have never seen the Internet and have little concept of its workings. No problem, though, because free speech and privacy are universal concepts which are readily explained to the novice cyberlibertarian. The trailers set-up with Web access have been a big hit with first-time Netizens and others who simply can't stand to be offline for more than a day at a time.

Two college students from Syracuse who stopped in explained that their school email accounts were regularly monitored for specific objectionable content; after a brief interchange with some of the EFF and EF-Canada folks at the booth, the two went away determined to get to the bottom of this invasive policy!

Across the tent, Gibson Guitars has erected a makeshift 'third stage' consisting of a few exhibition tables and some demonstration guitars and effects. Passersby are invited to strum a few chords, and several jam sessions have filled the tent with sounds of amateur enthusiasts, mixing with the airborne sounds from the main and second stages.

The virtual reality games demonstration has been really popular, as newcomers to technology and even those in the know marvel at a video game you control by moving your own body while watching yourself on screen. Today the game was set to the national pastime here north of the border, hockey. Players became hockey goalies, stopping virtual pucks with real-life kick saves and smothers. In the spirit of a citizenship which is enraptured by its favorite sport, the best of the bunch were cheered and the hopeless sieves were consummately (but still good naturedly) booed.

The Tragically Hip are still at it outside, and it's time for this reporter to catch the vibes that are the pride and joy and perhaps the major reason for many who decided to attend EdenFest. See ya!!

Dennis Derryberry
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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