In which the Database nearly got me.
So I went to 3GSM (sorry, sorry, Mobile World Congress). Now, these things are usually fairly good previews of the ID-card future – constant RFID-tag badging, lists everyone in the world is either on or they aren’t, security theatre aplenty. On this occasion, when I visited the registration Web page, I was invited to check off sessions I wanted to take part in from a list. Oddly enough, one of the options was given as “Cocktail and Ministerial Dinner”.
Of course, I’m enough of a chancer that I put a tick in the box. Later, my registration e-mail pinged through; and, next to the seminars on credit transfer by SMS, unified communications APIs, progress in billing systems, etc, etc, there it was. No detail of when or where, though. So, on Monday night with no – no invitations and paralysed for the evening, I quizzed a GSMA staffer about it. They made some calls. Eventually the word came that I should take a cab to the National Theatre at once.
When I got there, perhaps I should have realised this was going to be a little heavy; a little heavy stood on each street corner, in that “serious security” way. I showed documents, and there was much phoning, and eventually I was shown through a door into what appeared to be security control. At first, there was someone who was coming to meet me; then, a tiny intense woman in an expensive suit appeared. There was a “grande problema” – people kept saying this.
“This isn’t an invitation”, she said. I suggested it was a lot like one. “It didn’t come from us”. It seemed an unusual coincidence. “If it had come from us it would be on a formal card and it would have come from the Spanish embassy!” No answering that one. Then: How did I get it? I must photocopy all the documents. Do you mean to say you could register for this from the general congress site? Do you realise the king could be here and – the president of Catalonia?
Her voice dropped sharply out of sheer reverence when she got to the bit about the president of Catalonia. I was beginning to worry I might be deported, possibly to Spain, or else that they would cancel my security pass. It went on; they now insisted that they needed to send me a letter of apology. I said they shouldn’t bother; eventually I was allowed to slink away like a dog, presumably cleared of ill-will towards the president of Catalonia.
What struck me most about the whole scene was that nobody seemed to accept that the Big Database could possibly be wrong. It seemed easier to imagine that I had forged the entire invite.