Seventh year in a row, another DESCON was held! 

A unique multidisciplinary event – technological and ecological hackathon, which this year dealt with the topics of mapping, sensing and predicting but our focus remained on climate change and debates about saving the world with the use of technology.

As in previous years, the event was held in Impact hub in Makedonska street, and in the very center of Belgrade. Unlike the previous events, which were mostly reserved for the autumn period, this time we celebrated spring on May 28 and 29, where we hosted slightly more than a hundred visitors on both days. With fourteen speakers and collaborators, twelve lectures and two workshops, we see this year’s Deskon as a success. Using livestream technology to create a hybrid event and accommodate those interested from other locations, increased our budget, but regardless of the fact that there were ups and downs, Descon 7.0. was very ambitiously organised. 

Saturday morning, 10am, the event started with a traditional welcome note and a coffee with Zeljka Desiree Miloshevic, founder of Descon and president of Internet society – Belgrade Chapter. By the timeline, a welcome note was followed by key-note lecture held by Dr. Marco Kaltolfen, an environmental scientist with over 30 years of experience. He told us about the open model of citizen-science distribution and the lecture left an excellent impression on the visitors. Later, we organised an interview with Marco so that he could share his point of view with us in a different format.

Petar from our Hacklab Belgrade announced the Capture the flag competition, which lasted until the end of the event and had a great response. 16 online teams were formed to solve rebuses and puzzles in the period of 24 hours. The winner of the competition is a female person, who wished to remain anonymous. We had three awards again this year, and our Olivia Solis announced the winners. Larisa Wunderlich, designer and visual artist from Berlin who combines analytical thinking and visual power. She brings a high level of expertise through all steps of the design process: research, prototyping and aesthetics, and as part of her professional practice, she held a workshop on data visualization with seven interested participants. She guided them through the software, approaches and models she uses to solve everyday tasks and inspired them with some new ideas. Professor of art, design and media, Dr. Alessandro Ludovico from the UK University, told us about Neural magazine and the key discourses on the topic of “Climate resistance”. How it is even possible, or ethically correct, and what kind of experience it is that stands behind the sustainability of the renowned twenty-year-old magazine, of which our guest is the editor-in-chief. This lecture, with its creative approach, brightened the visitors’ afternoon that followed the lunch break. 

Martin Bricelj Baraga is a director of MoTA (Museum of Transitory Art) museum and co-founder of Neural Group, award-winning media artist and curator who creates interactive works and sculptures that explore the spaces between environment, nature, technology and people. Often large, his works can be seen in public spaces or in unusual architectural complexes. He told us about the Cyanometer – a device that measures the blueness of the sky. His lecture (closed by Željka Milošević), who announced a short break and a lecture by Vladan Joler, a professor from the Faculty of Technological Sciences in Novi Sad and co-founder of the SHARE Foundation, on the New extravism.

At the same time, Vanja Stanić, a young developer and winner of Descon 2018 with DIY product Klimerko, held the workshop “How to make your own Klimerko”. This is how we closed the first day of Descon.

The second day started with Dr. Jan Krasni, who is a professor at the University of Technology in Berlin and a former professor at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. His focus is on multimodal discourse analysis, media studies (especially media ethics) and infrastructure studies. Jan talked with us about a software based on artificial intelligence that recognizes hate speech and feeds it with new data. Then the students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mihajlo Pavlović and Jovan Sandić, took over the microphone and talked with us about the Right to repair. After them, we listened to Ivan Jelić, a open software pragmatist and media expert, interested in open development models for digital transformation, who drew a parallel between open software and freedom of speech with his light talk. After his lecture, two more students of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering – Filip Starčević and Marina Zlatković, presented a hardware and software solution for measuring air pollution that was inspired by Klimerko. It is upgraded in the fact that it also contains an air purifier. They received a device from the Descon team in order to further develop their solution, and for the conclusion we made a plan to organize workshops soon. On Sunday, after the lunch break, Vanja Stanić presented the Klimerko Pro solution that the design team has been working on for some time, with an improved design and new sensors. The end was reserved for Danny O’Brien’s lecture on “Save the World as…” and the inclusion of Joanna Gordon Casey, from the US Embassy and a professor of physics and engineering at Fort Lewis College with whom we had an online collaboration, where she presented an analysis of students in America regarding Descon themes. In the last minutes, there was an award ceremony where three teams from the Capture the flag competition won Bitcoin, Monero and a ticket to their favourite hackathon.

After the lectures and ceremony, there was an informal gathering of participants and speakers at the Zaokret bar in Cetinjska, where some new and specific experiences were additionally exchanged. With this we have closed Descon 7.0.

The whole event live stream is uploaded on our YouTube channel, and you can find the complete playlist here.

We have a photo gallery on Flicker where all Descon photographs are places, such as this one. 

For the end, as every year, we are creating a video material with a goal to show at least a part of the atmosphere that was in the air during the event. Links for videos one and two are below:

Video I

Video II