The Global Open Science Hardware (Gosh) community gathered on March 22-25 in Santiago, Chile. Makery commissioned a report from Freyja van den Boom, a researcher and supporter of Open Knowledge International.
Last year, the Global Open Science Hardware (Gosh) community held their first meeting at the European nuclear research center (Cern) in Switzerland. Global South being a strong line of the Gosh Manifesto, Chile became this year’s destination to continue growing the community and to discuss what steps to take in achieving the Gosh goals. Over 90 Goshers from over 30 countries on 5 continents, with over 30% from Latin America, gathered at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago.
The Gosh movement seeks to reduce barriers between diverse creators and users of scientific tools to support the pursuit and growth of knowledge. Although a growing number of people around the world are developing and using Open Science Hardware, there is still no strong, self-organizing community to drive social change within institutions.
In 2016, Gosh set out to change this by gathering a small group of the most active developers, users and thinkers in the Open Science Hardware community to discuss how to implement change. From this first meeting at Cern, the Gosh Manifesto was born. Building on the Gosh Manifesto, which explains the principles of the movement, the goal for 2017 was to further develop the roadmap that will help achieve its ambitious goal:
“To make open science hardware ubiquitous by 2025.”
The first day of Gosh2017 invited speakers to introduce their projects and share their experiences. This helped to better understand how the very diverse community is dealing with the different needs, challenges and adoption of Open Science Hardware.
About Open Science Hardware
Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development (TReND) in Africa addresses the need for workshops and extended teaching courses on making open lab ware, including an upcoming 2017 course in Ibadan, Nigeria.
In scientific research and experimentation, researchers rely heavily on tools that allow them to collect information beyond the scope of human perception. Think of microscopes that help us see things that are invisible to the naked eye. But the importance of open source hardware goes beyond what a researcher can achieve in well-funded labs with expensive equipment.
Swiss GaudiLabs provide creative spaces for people to work, as well as to conduct open research using open source technology. They developed GaudiLabs mobile, a set of boxes and portable devices, workshops, concepts and formats that can be taken into any institution, public space or event to create a temporary lab space for collaboration between people from different backgrounds.
The importance of acknowledging diversity was addressed in other projects and discussions during the gathering. Max Liboiron presented the DIY monitoring devices, or trawls, developed by the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist marine science and technology laboratory based in the Netherlands that specializes in citizen science and grassroots environmental monitoring of plastic pollution.
Often the people who are most affected by pollution cannot afford the industry-standard instruments required to target marine plastic, or else “universal” scientific protocols do not take local factors into consideration. By developing an open source hardware alternative, anyone can investigate their own environment and take action based on what they learn.
Andrew Thaler talked about the importance of oceanography for everyone and developing the openCTD, a low-cost, open source oceanographic instrument for measuring conductivity, temperature and depth down a vertical profile. Low-cost tools are necessary to the vast majority of ocean users in order to study, explore and understand the ocean, and this is often their only source of income.
Open hardware and licensing
Another issue discussed during Gosh was licensing and how to address the current system of laws that prevent people from making, sharing and improving or adapting existing products. In Geneva, Cern developed the Cern Open Hardware License to share designs that are explicitly and legally open. In a similar vein, the Open Source Hardware Association developed a certification program to help both producers and consumers better understand what open source hardware is and how to comply with the Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Definition 1.0.
“Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.”
Open Source Hardware, Definition 1.0
The Open Science Hardware community addresses part of the access problem through sharing designs, blueprints and well-documented practices that allow others to use and build upon their projects.
Open source microscopes
Open source brain sensors
The OpenBCI is an open source brain-computer interface platform. Anyone can use their bio-sensing systems and print out or buy the headset to sample electrical brain activity (EEG). The files for the 3D-printed headset are available on GitHub.
Open source art and science
Sensors were also used in projects where art meets scientific research. Pulsum Plantae focuses on bioelectrical activity readings from different types of plants to experiment with sonification.
— Max Liboiron (@MaxLiboiron) March 23, 2017
As clear documentation is vital for others to understand, use and reproduce hardware projects, it is not surprising that one of the initiatives that came out of Gosh was a journal. The Journal of Open Hardware is an open access journal dedicated to providing a platform for hardware designers to deposit and disseminate their work and for researchers to publish research on open hardware projects. The goal is to bridge the gaps in experimental practices of design, fabrication and dissemination of hardware between professional, academic and non-academic communities.
— GOSH (@GOSHCommunity) March 25, 2017
In addition to the presentations and discussions, time and space was devoted to sharing skills and collaborating on current and future projects, including environmental monitoring, citizen empowerment through science and artistic practices involving scientific hardware.
More about the Gosh movement, Manifesto and roadmap: look for #GOSH2017 or visit Open Hardware Science