Skytalks 2023 – on second thought…

After a lot of internal discussion and soul searching, the leadership cadre here at Skytalks has elected to not participate in DEF CON 31.  This is not a decision that we came to lightly or easily, and it’s heartbreaking not only for me personally, but for the entire leadership team.  We didn’t want this decision, but it’s the one we came to.

Our friends and fellow hackers, we appreciate all of what you’ve done to build DEF CON over the years, and keep stuff going through the COVID-19 pandemic.  We here at Skytalks know it’s not been an easy task, and we know you’ve had to make some pretty tough decisions through the entire mess, and that no matter what you decide, there will be a contingent that will be unhappy.  This is not a decision we wanted to make, and it took a lot of soul-searching and discussion.

We understand the varying effectiveness of masks, especially when improperly worn, against the varying strains of the coronavirus, and how this could be ineffective.  We also understand the varying value of vaccines at this point in the pandemic.  But as leaders for the event, and active participants in the hacker community, we are not comfortable with our personal moral and ethical questions in asking volunteers and speakers to take what we believe are significant risks to their long term health to come and participate in Skytalks.  Long COVID is still a thing, and given how many of our organizers and speakers already have other long term health issues that could be complicated by long-term COVID issues, we feel it irresponsible of us to ask them, or any of us, to assume that risk right now.

We were (and still are) excited about DEF CON 31.  We intend to watch any self-reporting of COVID or other disease infections or symptoms (as we did last year) and we also encourage DEF CON to try and collect and report this data out in aggregate.  We’re hoping that we’re just being overly cautious, and that this year shows that we can potentially have a less infectious event.  But right now, we’re being rather conservative in our estimates.  We love our hackers and we want to keep them around.

Finally, we expect to re-apply as a Village for DEF CON 32, assuming and hoping that the review of post-DC31 infections as well as the 2024 situation will have improved to the point we feel it is OK to participate.  We’ve enjoyed being a part of the family that is DEF CON, and we still think we have value to add to the many conversations that happen there.

Stay healthy and stay safe, gang.  Some of us, individually, will see you in Vegas this year.  As for the rest of us, we hope to see you at DEF CON and Skytalks in 2024.  

–bluknight, on behalf of the Skytalks Leadership Cadre