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! (

This book is free to read, download, and share!
If you want to help, though we have a suggested donation of $7.00 USD.

We take Paypal, Square Cash, and Cryptocurrencies! All proceeds help fund future conferences!

Hope you like it, and maybe if it gets you interested in joining us for dinacon next year, you can sign up for our mailing list for future conferences.

Proceedings of the First Di… by on Scribd

Conference Philosophy

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?


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.



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:

Other Nearby Conferences

There are several conferences aligned with the interests of our event! Many are on our side of the world. Because our conference is fluid, you can attend them all!

International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5)

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

June 24-29


Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

July 1-5


Design of Interactive Systems (DIS)

Hong Kong

June 9-13


 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA)

June 23-30, 2018

Durban University of Technology, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa



Main Rules

Is it REALLY free?

Yes! hopefully free as in both pizza and freedom! We will cover your housing (you might need to bring a tent), and your registration. You have to figure out how to get here.

But i heard there is a deposit?

Yes! If your application is accepted we will notify you in February and have you pay a $20 USD deposit. We will refund your deposit when you arrive on the island! This is just to encourage people to actually come if they say they will, since there are other people on the waiting list.

What are “Ants”

Ants are super cool! and to help make sure people ACTUALLY READ this FAQ, if you see the word “Ants” in a form to guarantee that you have read the latest version of the FAQ, you should select that! (click “Ants” on the form to indicate “yes”).

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 yourself 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. You should 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!

3. You need to provide feedback on two (2) other people’s projects.

4. You need to stay at the conference for at least two (2) consecutive nights.

Anything else?

Be nice to all humans and non-humans


Do I need to pack in all my own food?

Probably not! You can if you want! But there are frequent trips to the mainland, and we can stock up on food. There’s even a little restaurant at Baan Mai resorts. 

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

Yes! and it’s probably a great idea!

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

We tried to set up our location to accomodate people of various adventurousnesses. It takes place at a tropical resort island, and you can choose your level of outdoorsy-ness for  stay: live in a fancy cottage on the beach, stay in a ten on the lawn, or go live in the deep forest for the whole time.- it’s up to you!

What are the accommodations like?

They will be minimal. 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: Location

Basically we can accommodate 10 people indoors, and 20 people camping style nearby. There are 2 extra cabins that people can rent as well if we don’t have enough room, or you want a private place to hang out! They aren’t too expensive.

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 have a family that I want to come with me (a person over 18 years old) which includes some members under 18. Can we come?

-Yes! You should register your group as a team, and 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).


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’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?



Even though you are funding it with your own money, and trying really hard to provide a free, accessible space for all kinds of people, are some folks still going to get angry at you about different aspects of the conference.


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! This 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