From March 2-5 the prestigious Cern in Geneva hosted Gosh!, an international gathering of activists around open science and technologies. Makery asked Jenny Molly, coordinator of the event, to explain the issues to us.
Jenny Molloy, coordinator of the research programs OpenPlant and Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative at the University of Cambridge in Great Britain, has taken an interest in the junctions between open science and digital technologies. From March 2-5 she coordinated the gathering of about fifty researchers at the European nuclear research center (Cern) in Geneva for the event Gathering for Open Science Hardware (Gosh!). Makery asked her for a photoreport.
“Gosh! 2016 was an opportunity to bring together about fifty of the most active developers, users and tinkerers in Open Science Hardware. Coming from all around the world, these Open Hardware hacker heroes were also able to exchange views with experts from different research areas linked to Open Hardware for the community to take root. Memorable fact, Cern open its doors for them allowing them to exchange views and carry out DiY in its IdeaSquare during several days. The objective of the Open Hardware activists was to extend the scope of the movement and find ways to bring in concrete changes.
“Hardware plays a crucial role in experiments and advances in scientific instrumentation. It has in fact been central in the different scientific revolutions that have permitted the extension of observation beyond the five human senses. Although scientists are natural tinkerers, the current supply chain for scientific hardware limits access and impedes creativity and customization. Open Science Hardware addresses part of this problem through sharing open designs, often finding inspiration in modern digital fabrication techniques. Public education and citizen science seek to expand the reach of this approach beyond the context of academic research. The objective is to increase access to research tools, make their customization and their recycling easy and reduce costs.
“A growing number of people around the world are developing and using Open Science Hardware, but a coherent and autonomous community needs to emerge to better identify its ambitions and drive the social change that will allow the development of low-budget open equipment in institutions and society.
The Gosh! community
“The Gosh! community believes that open science hardware can broaden the perspectives of accredited scientists, technicians, entrepreneurs and community advocates in the development of their work but also the perspectives of the multitude of citizen groups that wish to keep control of their own research. The Gosh! community is made up of engineers, artists, hackers, teachers, students and citizens.
“Demoes and skill-shares exhibited the diversity of technologies and projects from participants, including the Open Quartz Crystal Microbalance (OpenQCM) for sensing very small changes in mass (see photo); Backyards Brains kits to measure neuron activity; a 3D-printed high-precision microscope flexure stage; Safecast radiation monitoring kits; DIY spectrometers from Public Lab and more.
“The objective was to build together, be it research equipment or tools for civic, citizen, and community science. A post-Gosh! DiY and maker gathering was held in the a.n.y.m.a. Studio in Freiburg, focusing on the co-development of low-budget tools for education and playing using several microcontrollers such as the ATtiny cards, including ongoing development of the CocoMake7, a jugaad and low-cost educational platform for digital interactivity.
“Gosh! took an interest in fun an artistic uses of open science hardware. Denisa Kera, a researcher from Singapore University gave a keynote on Open, Disruptive, Aesthetic and Cosmological Laboratory Hardware. Participants were able to attend performances on Synkie, an open source modular and analog video processor developed using ‘found’ engineering equipment and laboratory cables. Arts@Cern guest artistsEvelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand presented their collaborations with scientific labs to create ephemeral artworks with sonoluminescence, the transformation of sound energy into light.
“Urs Gaudenz from Gaudi Lab demonstrated that one of the challenges faced by many users of open hardware for science is lack of documentation, making it challenging to figure out what is what, assemble and customize the kit!
“Gosh! was all about building and forming the community. The group therefore spent a lot of time sharing projects. Tom Igoe, NYU-ITP professor and co-creator of the Arduino environment was indeed impressed with the Public Lab Riffle: an open hardware datalogger, built for environmental monitoring applications. “You’ve made all the right choices here.”
“Gosh! participants prepared meals and ate together in the IdeaSquare kitchen during these few days of intense sharing. Just what you need when you’re trying to build a community!
“For the conclusion of Gosh!, the group laid the foundations for a roadmap for open science hardware –starting with a manifesto and concrete actions to carry out to establish open hardware as a norm within the science field. Key questions that emerged from discussions included how to ensure peer recognition for the community contributions, promoting recognition and acceptance of open hardware at institutional and government levels, clear documentation and issues of calibration and reproducibility, scaling open hardware, etc.”
This discussion continues and is open to all on the Gosh! website