Location – 2018

It’s an island in thailand! It’s called Koh Lon.

It’s a large, mostly empty island, off the, less touristy, southern side of Phuket island. The low season for tourism in this area is from May – October, meaning that for our purposes in June and July most places will be a lot more empty and laid back. 

Getting There

Here’s a quick 360 video tour showing you how participants can get to our island!

  1. Get a cab from the airport to Chalong Bay (~1100 baht).
  2. Catch a free Longtail ride to Koh Lon (9am, 12pm, 3pm).
  3. Come sign in to the conference!

Amenities

Our location offers the following luxurious (and not so luxurious) to participants for free! We can house up to 30 people for free at any given time. If the average participant stays for about a week, that means we aim to have around 200 people at this conference overall!

  • Main Bungalow (HQ): can fit 10 folks
  • Campground: Can fit 10 tents and up to 20 folks
  • Kayaks
  • Access to aquatic and terrestrial parts of island for exploration
  •  Local guides available for hire 500thb ( $15 USD )
  • Wifi
  • Three free longtail boat rides per day (travel to the mainland / hauling gear)
  • Electronics, Crafting, and Prototyping Gear (Including: Mobile/Wearable Studios, Robotic arms, 3D printers, Laser etchers, Sensors and actuators of all sorts, yarn.)
  • Additional private cottages available for rent (1500 THB / 48USD with breakfast included OR 1200 THB without breakfast.)

cool.spot #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA


(this shot is on the “campground” in front of the bungalow HQ)

The rest of the island has one other resort, and a small group of 2-3 houses where some local folks live. Otherwise it is pretty much empty and wild. From what we saw there are some plantations/ overgrown plantations / and more fresh looking forest.

It seems that we would have pretty free reign to explore this island and its forests, beaches and mangroves.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Enk5ESDWzzC2

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages of this location is that Tasneem will be based right off the island for the next year (she can see the island looking out her house!). It’s only a 10 minute or so dingy ride to get from the island to the mainland.

Thailand, and Phuket area is quite advantageous in terms of its accessibility for travelers. For international visitors the visa process is easy, quick, and cheap. In Thailand, conference attendees only need a tourist visa as well.

For South-east asian locals travelling here is very fast and not expensive, and for folks further away it’s still pretty easy to get to! People can get a taxi from the airport, and make it to our island in about 1-1.5 hours.

This southern side of Phuket is quite relaxed, not super touristy (and we will be there during the off-season anyway)

Terrestrial Exploration

Here’s a 360 image of some nearby forest exploration (more to come later):

https://theta360.com/s/t1yHSfX40EjvrXNZamWEPM5cS

Outside the house: https://theta360.com/s/fQGtCheTdaFNSSRjde9W8Vw4S

https://theta360.com/s/iCRETcvPgAXCyjdSHBj34yXpc

Inside living room

main living room #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

https://theta360.com/s/t9UVDyZXDdbPKJPUU3IkW9YcG
Near Rain Barrel outside

side of house #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

The island has a couple small resorts on one side, but the whole rest of the island seems to be pretty wild and fun! There are also lots of other little islands around, and some mangrove swamps we can canoe through, explore, and even build our own little monitoring stands. There seems to be plenty of wildlife around, and the tidepools have all sorts of fun critters like octopuses changing colors and textures, pistol shrimp popping, and plants that have calcium skeletons!

Check out some nearby mangrove exploration we did:

Marine Exploration

Tasneem has tons of connections with all kinds of great, caring people who work with large ships (such as Sail in Asia, where she is working). Basing our project here would likely open us up to the whole blue world as well! We met really nice, interesting people with big, luxurious diving ships, and could probably work out some times during the conference where some of the group goes on a multi-day sailing trip!

Code of Conduct

We have an evolving code of conduct based off other nice codes of conducts that deal with the intricacies involving people in remote places building things and working together. Notably our code of conduct is based off Signalfire Arts residency, SV Seeker, and the Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH).

You can DOWNLOAD the codes of conducts and safety waivers here:

Or here as well

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ffbNFdIVS7IlpHGeD-urQyQK47Ox1vaw

and then you can sign and upload these forms here (unfortunately requires a google account):

https://goo.gl/forms/Se2avZwnw9nAOvX62

The content is included here:

SAFE SPACE AND ANTI-OPPRESSION POLICY

Adapted from Signal Fire http://www.signalfirearts.org/, March 2017

The Digital Naturalism Conference (“Dinacon”) seeks to achieve a collaborative spirit on all of our trips, at our events, and in our communications as we highlight the unique and extraordinary people who choose to join us. We do this by offering a space that fosters creativity, resilience, and positive change in the face of challenging times. At the core of Dinacon, we try to replicate in our collective space the world we wish to see: one that is radically egalitarian and not oppressive.

Because of our efforts to bring participants out to remote places, potentially pushing their edge of comfort, our commitment to safety and our intolerance for oppressive behavior is taken seriously. Despite our desire to maintain an anti-authoritarian ethic, due to the nature of these trips there may be times that the committee members running Dinacon ask for specific actions by the participants in order to maintain the safety of the group. We expect such demands to be clearly articulated and immediately followed. The committee reserves the power to remove a person from the trip or the group with minimal deliberation if a situation is deemed unsafe for any participant.

Equity Policy

Dinacon is a non-discriminatory organization that seeks to both support and empower its affiliates. All participants are expected to maintain openness on basis of physical and mental ability, socio-economic class, educational levels, regional origin, and identity variance. We expect people to be conscious of privilege in respect to ability, economics (class), race, culture, age, education, identity, size, or regional origins in systematic practices and across all aspects of Dinacon’s programming.

Participants are expected to use the language preferred by a person in reference to their name, identity, pronoun, physical and mental ability, etc as well as being expected to respectfully educate others in the group about those preferences. All participants are expected to promote and support considerate, inclusive language and remain conscious of language’s possible effects on others in reference to systems of power and privilege, accessibility, and cultural competency. We expect new use of language when it has been identified to an individual or the group as being offensive or oppressive.

Sexual Harassment and Assault

Dinacon has no tolerance for sexual harassment or assault of any kind. Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of similar or different genders. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors may include, but are not limited to: unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering, catcalls or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; display or circulation of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature. Gender-based harassment, that is, harassment not involving sexual activity or language (e.g., a male leader corrects only female participants and not males) may also constitute discrimination if it is severe or pervasive and directed at participants because of their gender identity.

We expect each participant to:

●          Respect physical and emotional boundaries

●          Obtain explicit verbal consent before touching or engaging in discussions of an                          intimate nature

●          Not film or video people without their permission

●          Respect the opinions, beliefs, and points of view of others

●          Strive to make other participants comfortable

In the event that a participant feels they have witnessed or experienced harassment or been assaulted by another participant, they should tell a committee member of Dinacon as soon as possible, no matter the time of day or night or situation. Dinacon will work with the person to communicate and get consent on a plan forward. In most instances, the person accused of harassment or assault will be given the opportunity to explain their interpretation of the event before being removed from the trip.

Alcohol and other drugs

The use of alcohol and other drugs increases safety risks significantly. It also puts our entire organization at risk. We support an ethic of free choice, while expecting cooperation and individual responsibility for the shared space. We expect that any choices made in regard to controlled substances will be made with the safety and comfort of the group in mind. We request participants with a history of addiction to share this with the committee as part of your health information, as it will aid us in understanding how to help you in case of an emergency.

NO BLAME WAIVER

By participating in DINACON, I acknowledge that I will be engaging in outdoor activities that are potentially dangerous, including but not limited to; walking, hiking, backpacking, swimming, boating, kayaking, biking, and camping events organized by other participants, volunteers, and members of DINACON. DINACON is a meetup organization where artists, musicians, writers, biologists, technologists, and others meet to participate in outdoor activities and residencies called Outings (“Outings”).

The waiver of liability is an agreement that attendance at these Outings are strictly voluntary and of my own choice and that I agree 100% to accept personal responsibility for all and any foreseen and unforeseen events that may occur during, including to and from, DINACON Outings.

I understand that during my participation in DINACON Outings, I may be exposed to a variety of hazards and risks, foreseen or unforeseen, which are inherent in each Outing and cannot be eliminated without destroying the unique character of the Outings. These inherent risks include, but are not limited to, the dangers of serious personal injury, property damage, and death (“Injuries and Damages”) from exposure to the hazards of outdoor activities and travel to and from these activities.

DINACON has not tried to contradict or minimize my understanding of these risks. I know that Injuries and Damages can occur by natural causes or activities of other persons, animals, trip members, trip organizers and assistant organizers or third parties, either as a result of negligence or because of other reasons.

DINACON, its organizers, assistants, volunteers, and Outing participants take no responsibility for me and will not be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur during Outings. Outdoor recreation is inherently dangerous and accidents will happen and that risks of such Injuries and Damages are a part of adventure Outings. I appreciate that I may have to exercise extra care for my own person and for others around me in the face of such hazards. In consideration for my acceptance as a participant on Outings, I confirm my understanding that:

* DINACON does not guarantee or confirm the qualifications of any of the organizer, or assistant organizers, or members to lead or manage or set-up Outings or trips nor are they necessarily trained to respond during an emergency by providing first aid, CPR, or any rescue action. I further understand that on these Outings there may not be search, rescue, medical facilities or expertise necessary to deal with the Injuries and Damages to which I may be exposed.

* The Outings officially begins and ends at the location(s) designated by DINACON. The Outing does not include carpooling, transportation, or transit to and from the Outings, and I am personally responsible for all risks associated with this travel. This does not apply to transportation provided by DINACON during the Outings.

* If I decide to leave early and not to complete the Outing as planned, I assume all risks inherent in my decision to leave and waive all liability against the DINACON arising from that decision. Likewise, if the leader has concluded the Outing, and I decide to go forward without the leader, I assume all risks inherent in my decision to go forward and waive all liability against DINACON arising from that decision.

* Backpacking/hiking/camping/swimming/boating are physical activities involving a large amount of walking and physical exertion. Participants must be in good general health, free from cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and have good exercise tolerance. I will get my physician’s approval before commencing such activities.

* To the fullest extent allowed by law, I agree to WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, AND RELEASE FROM LIABILITY DINACON, its officers, directors, organizers, assistant organizers, employees, agents, and leaders from any and all liability on account of, or in any way resulting from Injuries and Damages, even if caused by negligence of DINACON, its officers, directors, organizers, assistant organizers, employees, agents, and leaders, in any way connected with this Outings.

* I further agree to HOLD HARMLESS DINACON, its officers, directors, organizer, assistant organizers, employees, agents, and leaders from any claims, damages, injuries or losses caused by my own negligence while a participant on the Outings. I understand and intend that this assumption of risk and release is binding upon my heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, and includes any minors accompanying me on the Outings.

* This Agreement is intended to be as broad and inclusive as is permitted by law. If any provision or any part of any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid or legally unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of this Agreement shall not be affected thereby and shall remain valid and fully enforceable.

*I have read the attached Safe Space and Anti-Oppression Policy and agree to abide by the expectations. I understand that I may be removed from a trip if the guides feel that I am negatively impacting the physical or emotional well being of the group.

* I have read the No Blame Waiver and agree to voluntarily assume all risks of such Injuries and Damages.

Costs

We managed to drop costs even lower than previously mentioned. Here’s a general rundown of what kinds of expenses to expect when coming to the conference.

There is also the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Hotel nearby which charges ~$130 USD per night

Thus a person’s minimum costs will be less than $60 per day, or $295 for a 5 day stay including housing and meals! This is cheaper than just the cost of most hotel stays at most conferences! In fact it’s less than half the cost of staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Hotel nearby which charges ~$130 USD per night

Travel

Flights are quite affordable from most of the Americas and Europe to Panama City. From Panama City is it just a short 45 min, $40 taxi ride to Gamboa.

Some typical roundtrip prices to give you ideas:

NYC - 300 USD
Denver - 300 USD
LA - 500 USD
San Francisco - 550 USD
New Orleans - 280 USD
Atlanta - 350 USD
Washington DC - 280 USD
Chicago - 280 USD
Toronto - 500 USD
Vancouver - 480 USD
Quito - 470 USD
Caracas - 300 USD
Rio De Janeiro - 550 USD
Santiago - 700 USD
Lima - 500 USD
Amsterdam - 580 USD
Berlin - $560 USD
Frankfurt - 575 USD
Munich - 570 USD
Zurich - 700 USD
Barcelona - 540 USD
Ljubljana - 900 USD
Accra- 3000 USD
Nairobi - 1500 USD
Johannesburg - 1500 USD
Tel Aviv - 940 USD
Bengaluru - 1500 USD
Mumbai - 1350 USD
Bangkok - 1460 USD
Phuket - 1550 USD
Singapore - 1600 USD
Manila - 1300 USD
Hong Kong - 1000 USD
Shenzhen - 1530 USD
Beijing - 900 USD
Tokyo - 980 USD
Sydney - 1850 USD
Perth - 1850 USD
Auckland - 1870 USD

Health and Travel

HEALTH

Vaccines

Panama does not currently require any special vaccines to enter (unless you are coming from a fever listed as “at risk” of yellow fever. Yellow Fever was obliterated pretty good within Panama during the construction of the canal especially along the canal region (where Gamboa is).

The CDC reccomends all travelers to be up to date on

  • routine vaccines
  • Hep A and Hep B
  • Typhoid

Malaria is not really present in the parts of Panama we will be located in, and Rabies vaccines are required if you will be handling mammals (such as bats).

If you will be doing other travelling outside of the Canal region you might want to look into Yellow Fever and Malaria risk.

Full details here:

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/clinician/none/panama

General Health

We will be in jungle areas in the rainy season. Stuff gets wet and kinda stays wet. Keeping your clothes dry and fresh is a good way to keep comfortable and prevent things like rashes and skin or other bodily irritation.

Basic travel medicine such as anti-diarrheals, laxatives, nausea, and Urinary Tract and Yeast infection treatments are probably good to have on hand.

VISAS

Panama is one of the more visa-friendly countries in the world. People coming from many countries do not need to get a visa beforehand.



This includes most of Europe, North and South America, Australia, and some parts of Asia and Africa.

Also if you have a multiple-entry visa valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry, or residency documents issued by any of the following countries:[10]

 Australia Canada European Union Japan Singapore South Korea United Kingdom United States

You also do not need to get a separate visa!

You can check out the full visa policy in this Wikipedia article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Panama

Unfortunately we do not have resources to aid with obtaining visas and other travel logistics. You are entirely responsible for your own visas and travel plans.

If you need any kind of official looking letter of invitation though, we can happily give you one!

Other Conferences

Hey, maybe you can’t make it to dinacon this year! There are plenty of other gatherings happening all around the world!

Maybe one of these will work for you!

Pifcamp – Slovenian outdoor hacker camp

http://pif.camp

ITPcamp – NYU’s unconference about art and technology

https://itp.nyu.edu/camp2019/

Africa Open Science Hardware – AfricaOSH

Tropixel – Pixelache – Brazilian art, science, technology, society festival

http://tropixel.ubalab.org/pt-br

Signal Fire – Terrific Artist’s backpacking residency!

http://www.signalfirearts.org/

SV Seeker – Build an open source research ship

Frequent Questions

Main Rules

What are the official rules of the conference?

1. You must complete something.

Aim big, aim small- just figure out a task for yourself that you can commit to that you can accomplish during your time at the conference. It can be any format you want: sculpture, a movie, a poem, a fingerpainting, a journal article – you just have to finish it!

2. Document it openly.

You need to document what you made and share it with our group at the conference (even if it means just sharing your article you wrote, or taking a photo of the thing). Everything will be made open-source and publicly accessible! At a minimum, this just means publishing a post on our wordpress.

3. Get written feedback on your project (x2).

You need to find at least two other participants who will provide you with written (or video, or any kind of non-ephemeral ) feedback about your project. For instance you can get someone to agree to send you an email, give you a handwritten note, or film a video impression of their feedback, and give it to you. We want to make sure that you get the most out of your surroundings and people there to help refine your projects. We also want to help you not get overwhelmed, which is why the feedback you get must be in some form that you can review at a later time, perhaps when you have left dinacon, and can reflect in a more relaxed manner.

Following our very basic rules ensures that everyone going to the conference comes away with a finished project in hand, that has been reviewed by amazing experts you got to co-habitate with.

Anything other rules?

4. You need to stay at the conference for at least Four (4) consecutive nights.

5. Be nice to all humans and non-humans

What is “Agoutis?”

Agoutis are these wonderful strange creatures that sort of lope around Gamboa. When they get scared, their butt hair puffs up (because they are related to porcupines), and they love eating your banana peels. Also if you are filling out a form that is checking to see if you actually read the FAQ, the word “Agoutis” is functioning as a bit of a shibboleth. So if you see the word “Agoutis” appear somewhere, you should check it. (And also read this whole page!)

How come it isn’t free anymore????

Last year we were able to make the registration free because Andy used the personal money from his job to cover a large amount of expenses (~$10K). But now he quit that job, and he has a new mortgage on the dinalab. So money is a lot tighter! Whoops!

Luckily, we worked hard to minimize costs, and still have one of the cheapest conferences to attend! Most of the money you will spend will just cover your housing and food.

Accomodations

What is Gamboa like?

It’s a magical, strange little town crawling with fun animals and weird scientists. You can learn more about on our Location description page, and also if you want a deep dive on gamboa knowledge you can check out this document of collective wisdom of past Smithsonian Scientists.

What is the food like?

This year we are hiring full time local chefs to make all our meals (It’s actually a service bundled with the housing cost). We get 3 meals per day. They will serve all meals buffet style, and the food will be vegetarian with a meat option.

Are there options for special needs foods.

That being said, if you have special dietary constraints you might want to stop at the grocery store and pick up your own supplies to supplement your diet.

We will also be trying (but can’t promise) to use some of the food fee to help supplement the meals with some extra basic staples and interesting additions.

Do I need to pack in all my own food?

Probably not! You can if you want! There is a little “tienda” (shop) in town where you can get very minimal food, and there are grocery stores leading in to town, but Gamboa itself has pretty minimal food offerings. That is why we are hiring a chef to make stuff. If you have special needs for your food, you may need to supplement with a run to the grocery store. We have spaces to store your extra food for special food needs folks.

I want to cook all the time and use the kitchen! Can I???

At the main housing facility, the kitchen will be off-limits, because it will be in use full time by the staff preparing everyone’s meals. You will be free to use the dinalab kitchen though!

Will I be able to bring my own tent/hammock and camp?

Yes! Though it is the rainy season. We also have very limited camping spots. You will also still have to pay for registration and the food fee.

Is this conference going to be rough? Will i have to live outside in a deadly jungle the whole time?

Just like the previous dinacon, we tried to set up our location to accommodate people of various adventurousnesses.

It takes place in a cute little town near a jungle and you don’t really have to even step foot outside into the forest if you don’t want to. You can choose your level of outdoorsy-ness for  stay: live in a fancy hotel room at the Gamboa Rainforest resort, stay in some dorms with us, live in a tent in the backyard, or go live in the deep forest for the whole time.- it’s up to you! Note that you are responsible for your own safety and comfort. So do not sign up for a camping spot, unless you are prepared for rough jungley rainy nights.

What are the accommodations like?

We are still working on them. They will be minimal and shared. Likely dorm-style housing with bedrooms holding 3-8 people. It will also be in the tropics which means hot, damp, full of biting things, and beautiful luxurious nature! Full description of our accommodations will be here: Housing.

Costs

So how much is it going to cost me to go to this conference?

There is a sliding scale, and we are still working out the exact costs, but a typical person’s costs will be about $68 per day, or $340 for a 5 day stay including housing and meals! This is cheaper than just the cost of most hotel stays at most conferences! Full breakdown of costs is available on this page- Costs.

Heirarchy

What’s with all this “node leader” and “chair” nonsense? All people should just be people! Down with Hierarchies!

Our entire conference exists to create interesting creative spaces. The “node leaders” are just people who have been working with us who are carrying the extra responsibility of hosting a public workshop or event with the rest of you at dinacon. The “chairs” are just the folks spending all their free time during the rest of the year organizing this thing for you. Nobody is “above” anybody else, some folks have just been working along with us for a while and took on extra responsibilities to help out give you an awesome experience!

So if nobody is in charge, I can just do whatever I want and be mean to people and mess up the place!

The only basic hierarchy we have is that if you become a problem to the conference, or the local community, we reserve the right to boot you out of the conference without any kind of refund. Just be nice, and respect the people and places around you and you will be fine! We have a posted code of conduct you will need to sign before coming. We haven’t really had any problems before, so help us keep up our tradition of being friendly and nice.

Kids and Families

I have a child that is super amazing and brilliant, can I send them to your conference?

Sorry, this conference is meant for autonomous individuals and groups to interact with each other. Everyone is entirely responsible for themselves, and thus we can only admit persons 18 years old and up.

I, a person over 18 years old, have a family that I want to come with me. Some of my family joining me is under 18. Can we come?

-Yes! Each person needs to have filled out an application so we have a valid headcount, and you should register your group as a team. Importantly, note that you will be ENTIRELY responsible for not only yourselves but also any individuals under 18 that are in your care (i.e. I’m sorry to say we cannot provide any babysitting services). We have had families come to the previous dinacon and it was great!

Documentation

What’s this rule that everything has to be open-sourced and shared?

Being good scientists and technologists, we know that all work builds off the works of others. Therefore our goal is to expand humanity’s collective knowledge, and not limit it. For this reason, a key rule at our conference is that everyone’s projects have to be publicly shared.

I wanted to use the conference as a writing retreat to write articles, and get them reviewed in preparation for submitting to different journals or conferences. Won’t sharing my article prohibit me from publishing in these other places?

Nope, you can just share what you are working on as a “pre-publication” which is some sort of loophole that lots of these publishers don’t seem to mind!

What Types of Participants?

I don’t consider myself a field biologist, or an artist, or an engineer. Can I still come?

Totally of course! You can be whatever you want, no experience required, just have an interest in any aspects of these areas!

I’m a biologist, but I usually work in the laboratory, not in the field. Should I still try to come?

Totally of course! Take the cool things you know and do in the lab, and come try them out in the field with us!

I’m an artist without much experience in art or technology stuff, but i’m interested in exploring it more in the wild with you. Should I try to come?

-Totally of course! We will love combining your talents with all the other interesting stuff going on!

I am really into food, should I come?

Yes! Food seems to be an amazing topic that elegantly ties together many of our big concepts at dinacon. It merges craft, science, and technology in a visceral, everyday experience.

I’m an engineer working with computers or electronics, I’ve never been outside, but i want to try it out with you, should I come?

-(are you starting to notice a pattern) Totally of course!

I’m a jerk, and I’m real mean to people, and I don’t care about the environment, should I try to come?

-uhhhhgg i guess probably not?

Misc

I am upset that you didn’t choose my application to join dinacon. I hate you. I am going to keep writing you mean emails.

Well that’s not nice to say. There are many reasons people don’t get in to dinacon. We have super limited space, logistical issues, and plain old human error. Plus it’s just straight up random. There are so many unique applicants, and we have to make some decisions about who can make it from a pool of talented people we don’t know. At many points this just means we have to make totally random decisions. Also we try to work in as many people from the waiting list as possible. So if you get denied, we apologize, but please don’t attack us, this is just a fun thing we are trying to do for people!

You are trying to put on a nice event for people to join together and learn about new ways of interacting with nature, so is everything perfect and happy and flawless about your conference?

Totally not. Any kind of large event has to navigate tons of socio-economic difficulties. We are trying our best to include as many different amazing people as possible, but we will of course make mistakes, and not always be able to faciliate everything that would be great. But we are really trying.

Won’t this conference involve people flying from all over the world, leading to the release of lots of greenhouse gases and increasing the toll on our earth?

Yeah. Unfortunately so like most other international conferences of academics. The longevity of the conference aims to help keep folks in place longer than most conferences though (where people zip in and out for a couple days). The eventual goal of this conference is to hopefully spawn lots of “Digital Naturalism” conferences in a similar style around the world, where people can rent out some land, and invite people to live and work on it in a more localized fashion.

—————–

And that’s it! We will keep updating this as more common questions emerge.

Housing+Food

These are the costs of living with us at dinacon in a world renown scientific village in the Soberania National Forest! These include access to potable water, bathrooms, and includes 3 daily meals of a vegetarian buffet with additional meat options.

We will be staying at “The Soberanía Field Station” run by Guido Berguido’s ADOPTA organization which serves as an eco-education center and functions to raise money to save rainforest in the Darien Region. It has 11 rooms; which includes 2 double bed rooms, 4 dorms for up to 4 pax each, 4 dorms for up to 10 pax each, 1 dorm for up to 5 pax

  • Ecolodge Housing ($42/night) – You are staying in dormitories with us inside
  • Tent Housing * ($19)- you can bring your own tent and stay on the lawn outside our eco-lodge
Side Yard with Agoutis – #SoberaniaFieldStation #Dinacon 2 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Three Person Room – #SoberaniaFieldStation #Dinacon 2 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Large MultiBedroom- #SoberaniaFieldStation #Dinacon 2 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
upper porch – #SoberaniaFieldStation #Dinacon 2 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

or you can arrange your own stuff at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort Hotel nearby which charges ~$130 USD per night http://www.gamboaresort.com/default-en.html

*Camping Note: It is the Wet Season. Most field biologists out here don’t camp then. It will rain in a burst everyday, and hard! You need a decent tent/camping hammock.  Our camping spots are also highly limited.

**IMPORTANT: IF YOU ARE NOT A LOCAL, DO NOT JUST PLAN TO SHOW UP TO GAMBOA and expect to find your own housing! It’s an extremely busy time of the year, and there is already a huge housing crunch. Unless you have definite, concrete arrangements, you will need to stay with us during dinacon.

*** It is highly recommended to join us for the meals, as dinacon is about bringing people together, and making stuff. We have expert chefs making food for you all day, which frees you to spend time connecting with each other, exploring the jungle, and working on your projects!

Book

The first book is out!

You can order a print on-demand in two sizes:
Large (A4 Size) Color Print ($28.79)

Small (A5 Size) Color Print ($25.87)

Or view it online for free!

or just download it and print it yourself! (www.pirating.science/dinacon)

This book is free to read, download, and share!
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Proceedings of the First Di… by on Scribd

Conference Philosophy

Motivation
Why am I putting on this conference for free? What’s my beef with current academic Conferences?

Academic Conferences have gotten kinda terrible. I like a lot of the people involved with them, and they do great work, but they get caught in a terrible, exploitative system. The whole system relies on the unpaid labor of busy academics to organize and run big logistical nightmares. The academics also have to create the content being “sold” by these conferences (the papers, and talks, and workshops, and reviews) and are then expected to pay large amounts of money for the privilege of being able to attend the things they provided all the work for.

In any other situation, people would find this totally ludicrous, but because of the system of tenure and fear instilled in academia, they go along with it anyway.  These conferences also manage to hit the price point where most middle-class professors can get these expenses covered by grants, which sadly means many poorer students and professors are unable to attend.

Many academics also argue that the big sin of these conferences is how they exist primarily to fuel the hotel-industrial complex. People have to pay outrageous fees to rent out boring rooms and eat expensive food in order to stand and talk to each other. Most gigantic conference budgets get sucked up by hotel fees. On top of this, most of the output of these elitist conferences (the papers) is finally locked away behind paywalls.

On average many folks how found the full cost of going to an academic conference at about $2500 USD. This includes the 600-1000$ price tag for registration, $500+ for hotels, $1000 for transportation.  Some conferences can be cheaper to go to, but many can be much more expensive!

New professors often go to at least 3 conferences a year ($7500). I wanted to explore what would happen if instead of dropping that money on myself, I used to to provide a free conference for hundreds of people?

Timing

A less philosophical problem with academic conferences, and more just logistically tricky, is that most conferences are held over a very short time (like 3-5 days). This means that if you are a busy person with many potential conflicts, you might not ever be able to attend purely from circumstance (For example, I haven’t been able to attend a CHI conference despite getting some proposal accepted for 4 years simply because of conflicts).

 

Summary of Problems to address

  • Exploitative – Powered by Unpaid laborers who then have to pay to attend
  • Expensive – only rich folks get to attend
  • Exclusive – generally you have to already be “vetted” with your papers to attend (not knocking Peer review! Just vetted networking)
  • Steer Money in not great directions – e.g. lining the pockets of fancy hotels and publishing companies
  • Restricted Time – Most conferences leave just enough time to get bored waiting for others unenthusiastic presentations to finish, and maybe grab a drink before heading back to all the duties one has. I think for good work to be done, and proper connections to be made in research, people need time to live and work together in a relaxing, exciting environment.

 

Solution

I can’t solve all these problems, but we can at least try to make something more interesting and accessible. We want to start luring these professors over to the side of fun, sharing, collaboration, and inexpensiveness. We want to connect people outside the walls of academia to free some of that valuable information trapped in those circles. My goal is to make a really fun and productive event that can accommodate non-academics while also incentivizing professional academics to join. Meanwhile we will focus on the theme of technology, natural interaction, and field biology.

 

What’s the budget like? 

Where you getting all your cash!? Why do you want a small budget? Are you using grants?

I anticipate a budget of about $10,000 USD, of which I plan to just spend $5,000 of my own money, $2000 from an adventure fund from past digital naturalist projects, and figure out a way to drum up the rest.

20K would be nice, but involving too much money might be distracting and complicated. Overhead will start shooting up once we get too much money as well! Let’s be cheap!

I wanted to use my own personal money for this project to prove that putting on a quality conference is not something that has to be super complicated requiring the blessing of large organizations. I also did not want to involve my own institution with this in case they might pose restrictions on what we do or how we do it. I have a decently paying job for the first time in my life, and I am happy to be able to share this money to create something new in the world that helps people learn more about technology and nature.

About half the budget I would like to steer towards scholarships and small stipends to get people to come. I want organizers to be paid as well as best we can.

So far we have spent $7000 on getting the location and all its amenities. Which is great and exactly the amount we had. Now we will be looking for people who want to chip in to help fund travel for less advantaged folks! Email [email protected] if you want to help out (or know people who do!)

 

Current spending: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1A7LjG9OeXGpmmKRdYQdCDdeIFuD6BXyb1ShGjNKFx5g/edit?usp=sharing