Frequently Asked Questions

When can I visit?
We will be hosting open house events, classes, and studio hours at Dynamicland Oakland in 2018. Please join our mailing list for announcements.
How can I contribute?

Donating. If you have the means, please donate. As a non-profit committed to incubating a humane dynamic medium for the public good, donations go directly to paying our staff, paying rent on our Oakland space, and purchasing equipment. Individual donations are particularly impactful at this early stage as we build relationships with foundations and institutional partners.

Volunteering. We will have several volunteering opportunities for local community members to help run open house events and studio hours. Please send us a note if you are interested.

Partnering. We are particularly interested in bringing in our Oakland neighbors who may not have connections to existing tech communities. If you run an organization or a space in Oakland that you feel would fit well with Dynamicland's mission, please get in touch.

Can I set this up in my space?

We're presently concentrating our energy on Dynamicland Oakland, bringing people together to the same space so we can learn from each other and shape the medium together. We'll then create experimental sites at other communal spaces in Oakland, for example libraries, museums, science labs, and classrooms. If you run a space like this in Oakland or nearby, do get in touch!

Our goal is to eventually set up dynamiclands as community spaces in other locations worldwide. If you are interested in helping us do this, the best thing to do for now is to keep up to date with our mailing list and visit and engage with our Oakland community when you can.

What is Realtalk?

Realtalk is the operating system that enables objects in Dynamicland to run computational processes and communicate with each other.

Think object oriented programming but with actual physical objects. Every recognized object can run processes, react to other objects, and recognize other objects. For example, a camera is an object that runs a process that recognizes pages it sees. A page is an object that runs the code printed on it. A printer is an object that reacts to another object wanting a new page of text to exist.

What hardware do you use?
We use commodity cameras and projectors in the ceiling to track the locations of physical objects and project onto them. But Dynamicland is not about projectors, it's about working with physical objects that can be programmed in a communal setting. We're starting with cameras and projectors, but Realtalk is agnostic to the sensors and actuators used. We're actively experimenting with other ways of computationally engaging the physical world, such as through robotics.
What are all the dots?
We currently use colored dots for tracking most objects. This is a bootstrapping step. Any Realtalk object can run a program that recognizes other objects in its own way, so as our recognizers improve you'll be seeing fewer dots around.
Can you work with arbitrary three dimensional objects?
This is in active development!
Is Dynamicland open source?

Dynamicland shares many core values with the open source movement and in some ways goes beyond them.

A primary design principle at Dynamicland is that all running code must be visible, physically printed on paper. Thus whenever a program is running, its source code is right there for anybody to see and modify. Likewise the operating system itself is implemented as pages of code, and members of the community constantly modify and improve it.

That said, the pages of code physically in Dynamicland are not in a git repository. The community organizes code spatially — laying it out on tables and walls, storing it in folders, binders, and bookshelves.

What are the applications of Dynamicland?
Dynamicland has all the possibilities of a personal computer but in a new, communal context in which everyone is capable of authoring their own dynamic media and building on the work of others. Community members have built kits of dynamic objects for everything from composing music to simulating biology experiments.
Is Dynamicland augmented reality (AR)?
It depends what you mean by augmented reality. Dynamicland is primarily about working with actual physical objects that everyone can see and touch. Glasses and phone-based AR is usually about "holograms" floating in space that only the person with the device can see. It is a central tenet that all people who come in to Dynamicland share the same reality. This enables social cues like pointing, eye contact, and shared attention which are essential for people to be fully present with each other.
Why is Dynamicland a non-profit?

We believe the long-term vision and scale of impact we aim for is impossible to achieve in a commercial context. A good analogy is the internet which was developed in a research context in the late sixties but was not commercially-driven until the nineties. The internet could not have happened if its creators had to derive a profit from it in five years.

As an institution, Dynamicland is modeled after traditionally nonprofit public-benefit institutions such as museums, arts venues, and public libraries. It's intended to be a public commons where all people are welcome to create, think, and play together.

What is Dynamicland's relationship to Y Combinator?
Y Combinator Research, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is Dynamicland's fiscal sponsor and supports Dynamicland operationally (legal, accounting, etc.) However all funding for Dynamicland is provided entirely by donors and institutional partners. Y Combinator, the startup incubator, does not fund Dynamicland.
Are you hiring?
Not presently, but we'll be starting a residency program in 2018. Please join our mailing list for updates.