Hackerspaces, DIYbio and citizen science: the rise of tinkering and prototype culture , a panel at ISEA organized by Denisa Kera

Open and Citizen Science projects, novel forms of co-working spaces and labs like Hackerspaces and FabLabs, and various Open Software and Open Hardware movements, all present an alternative approach to innovation and research outside of the official academia and industry walls closely related to art and design. These new alternative places present a novel model for R&D based on global flows of data, kits and protocols as means of not only scientific but also citizenship and empowerment project. These global and alternative innovation networks are developing around these Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) subcultures, such as Direct to consumer (DTC) genomics, DIYbio labs, DIYgenomics Clinical trials 2.0 and various attempts for garage biotechnology. Such grassroots and open source models present a trend that is challenging the meaning of science dissemination, communication and popularization but also policy. They connect directly politics with design, community building with prototype testing, and offer an experimental approach for discussing issues of policy, innovation and citizen participation in science. Communities of people monitoring, sharing and making sense of various “scientific” data and practices in their everyday lives are exploring new and unexpected global networks around low-tech biotechnologies and biomedicine. Maker and hacker communities around the world prototype future gadgets and tools with open hardware platforms. They often feed the needs of various grassroots open labs for affordable equipment and offer opportunities for entrepreneurship. These low-tech and open source strategies are paradoxically inspired by both EU based art and science centers and the American spirit of entrepreneurship. The global and alternative R&D places are made possible by informal networks between ASIA, USA and EU that enable very different flows of knowledge and expertise from the official industry and academia. What are the various forms of these citizen science projects and initiatives? What challenges they pose? What opportunities they bring? How they operate on the global level and what type of exchanges are we starting to witness between continents and cultures? How to describe these new models of research that involve various local communities in the R&D process?