An open research project in the world of open science communities experimenting paradigm shift through biohacking.
For the last 2 years @QuitterieL, aka Quitterie Largeteau, and @Dailylaurel, aka Aurelien Dailly, have both been exploring open science communities worldwide, from Europe to United states as well as some ecosystems of China, Korea, Colombia and Mexico. Thus they co-founded biohackingsafari.com. This non profit organization was created back in 2014 at La Paillasse, a community lab which was at that time a squat of biohackers.
Quitterie has a Phd in immunology and teaches the art of science at ‘’Palais de la Découverte’’ in Paris. She lectures about “open science” and organizes conferences & workshops worldwide. She interviews biohackers on her Soundcloud.
Laurel is an activist and photojournalist. He is a trans-disciplinarian, traveling the world to gain inspiration and to collaborate on workshops and residencies. He documents everything he sees on www.serendibscoop.com and on his flickr about biohacking.
What is Hacking?
For those of you who are wondering what a bio hacker is, let’s first start by defining what a hacker is? We admit that hacking has a bad reputation, but lets not confuse cracking with hacking.
A hacker is someone who likes to learn how systems are made and eventually repair, transform, even upgrade them for fun or other useful purposes. Hackers are people who like to share what they have learned with their fellow hackers. They do so online, on github, or wikis but also in physical places such as hackerspaces (Noisebridge In San Francisco / C-base in Berlin), makerspaces (Victoria makerspace in Victoria — Canada).
Other places put do-ocraty and peer learning upfront such as fablabs (Waag in the Netherlands/Lorem in Paris) or decentralized third places such as libraries (San Diego bio-lab) and other coworking areas (Hackuarium in Switzerland). Other institutional examples use transdisciplinarity intertwined with open science projects such as MIT Medialab (JODS) / Center for research and interdisciplinarity (OpenLab) in Paris/ IAAC (ValldauraLabs in Barcelona), etc…
Now a biohacker is someone that has pretty much the same mindset of a hacker but who is working with different tools, such as pipettes, incubators, tubes or petrie dishes. Part of the equipment is collected in all sorts of medical or research centers and wealthy biotech companies.
They also build their own scientific tools and equipment such as DIY Microscope or PCR machine (critical tool to tinker with DNA). All this is possible thanks to the extraodinary transdisciplinarity of knowledge and skills that you find in biohackerspaces.
Biohackers want to understand and analyze the food they eat, the water they drink, the air they breathe. Biohackers already made cheese without animals and dream — working hard — to produce their own insulin through genetic modifications. They want to see what their genome can teach them, even their gut bacteria is something of an interest.
Biohackers as hackers tend to share their researches with other communities. Of course the web is connecting as much as possible but they also organize events and workshops to open their knowledge and experiences. As a matter of fact next September, a conference made by Californian biohackers will happen in the mighty Counter Culture Labs building at the Omni Commons in Oakland, CA.
Two key networks were pioneering this growing movement and have been mentoring us since day one.
- DIYBIO.org → an organization that has a great role connecting ideas throughout their mailing list. They shared a safety policy, sent to all new and interested biohackerspaces. They also build the first code of ethics for biohackers.
- Hackteria → a collaborative organization of scientists, hackers and artists who combine their expertise, share knowledge through “workshopology” and write critical and theoretical thoughts about life science technologies.
What is Biohacking safari ?
As global connectors we at Biohacking Safari connect people, ideas and communities via workshops, discussions, and written articles digging in different ecosystems such as biohackerspaces, hackerspaces, maker faires, non profit organization, museums, academics like MIT Medialab (US), Tsinghua university (China), Oxford (U.K) and Fab foundation. We collaborate on designing new decentralized systems that allows us to navigate knowledge with better compass.
Our adventures lead us to new discoveries and new continents but we are attached to the fact that we are witnessing a growing movement and our humble role might be to introduce those new communities and bioconcepts to a broader audience. Telling their stories is for now in our reach, trying to go beyond the hype that sometimes surrounds biohacking.
New paradigms are often scary but the worst thing would be to let the politics and biotech companies decide alone for us. Biohacking is a way to engage now in drawing the society we want for the future.
The idea of this series of DIYBIO stories is to introduce what some of the amazing communities of the biohacking society are doing and share the questions they raised with their potential innovations or designed fiction prototypes.
For example do you know what Patrick D’haeseleer is holding in his hands at Biocurious? Read about it in the next episode….
Thank you Adia for reviewing our texts…