Abstract This research aims to develop and evaluate a design framework for creating digital devices that support the exploration of animal behaviors in the wild. This paper quickly shares the main concepts and theories from the fields forming Digital Naturalism’s foundation while presenting the key challenges emerging from these critical intersections between field biology and computational media. It then reviews the development of this research’s hybrid methodology designed specifically for its multi-year series of “Qualitative Action Research” fieldwork carried out at a rainforest field station. This paper analyzes the resulting on-site ethnographies, workshops, design projects, and interactive performances, whose take-aways are synthesized into design guidelines for digital-natural media. This framework, itself, is then evaluated via an extra iteration of fieldwork and the results discussed. Finally, the paper identifies targets for continued research development. Further areas of interest are presented which will promote Digital Naturalism’s progression into its own topic of study.
Today Gamboa had its first serious rain in months! It’s been an unusually long, hot dry season this year, apparently one of the most intense in the past century. In some ways, the dry season is terrific: it’s not that humid, and the roads are much more passable when they’re dry, making conditions safer for most humans. However, it gets REALLY hot without rain, and the plants and animals seem a little wilted.
It was wonderful to feel the fall of a real, prolonged rain today! The skies opened up, the temperature dropped, and the air was flooded with the smell of petrichor. The ground is greedily soaking up each drop of water, and I expect that the local fauna will be especially envigorated. Whenever we get even a mild drizzle during a dry spell, you can notice some increase in animal activity – extra squawking from the birds, a livelier spring in the agoutis’ step.
The storms are bound to get longer and more dramatic, and someday soon I’ll probably get sick of the resulting humidity, but for now, Gamboa is very grateful for the rain. – Kitty
During his residency, Marc Juul, set up the first steps to live, Virtual Reality, 360-audio in the forest. The goal is to install these in fascinating natural places around the world to help, and people can subscribe to a network of high quality live audio for things like waking up to natural alarm clocks, creating luxurious ambient atmospheres anywhere, or helping detect human presence (ie poachers). The funds generated can then go to help the natural places hosting the audio streams!
In case you wanted to see it, here’s our full talk about DINALAB and Wilderness Biocrafting: “Wild Labs for Wild Tools: The Importance of DIY Electronics and Jungle Crafting for Field Biology” – Andrew Quitmeyer, Digital Naturalism Laboratories
We invite you to come to Dinalab, our house, maker space, and art gallery! Invitamos a todos a nuestra casa!
123b Humberto Zarate, Gamboa
Friday, April 5, 6pm
Kitty and Andy’s birthday is coming up in April! This is a combined housewarming and birthday party, but instead of gifts, we’d like you to bring something you’ve made that we can exhibit in our little gallery space for the party.
It can be anything – drawing, photograph, origami, pottery, a scientific tool – as long as you made it! We can display the creations during the party, and you can take yours home at the end of the night . Message us if you have any questions about the thing you want to exhibit!
Also if you want to send a digital thing for us to print, please email us:
Kitty Kelly (Quitmeyer) (wellreadpanda.com) is a librarian turned professional yarn-crafter. Her interests lie in sustainability, knitting + crochet, books, and red pandas. She is the co-developer of the dinalab, and fixes/develops lab infrastructure while running workshops, events and logistics. Perhaps you will be able to become a mobile knitter / hiker like her!
She develops yarncrafted artwork to bring attention to scientific practices and discoveries. You can see more of her works at www.wellreadpanda.com
Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer is a hacker adventurer studying intersections between wild animals and computational devices. He left his job as a tenure track professor at the National University of Singapore to start his own Field Station Makerspace in Gamboa Panama: Digital Naturalism Laboratories (dinalab.net). Here he blends biological fieldwork and DIY digital crafting with a community of scientists, artists, designers, and engineers from around the world. He runs mobile workshops called “Hiking Hacks” where participants build interactive technology in outdoor, natural contexts. The Digital Naturalism Conference (dinacon.org) is his research’s largest event, pulling in over 100 participants annually from all fields to collaborate on finding new ways of interacting with nature. His research also inspired a silly spin-off international television series he starred in for Discovery Networks called “Hacking the Wild.”