Monitor 360 Interviews

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Tito Jankowski

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Feb 2, 2009, 8:03:32 PM2/2/09
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Hi everyone,

As you may know, Monitor 360 is putting together a report on the
DIYbio and biohacker community. Travis and Nils from Monitor 360 are
interviewing with many of us.

Please post your comments and feedback if you chat with Monitor!
Overall, I enjoyed the interview and am excited about the project. I
hope we get access to the final report - a compilation of these
interviews through someone else's eyes would be valuable to our
development.

I phone-interviewed with Travis, who is in Cambridge, MA. On the topic
of safety, my opinion is that our current projects (i.e. BioWeather
Maps and Gel Box 2.0) exist because we do not YET feel comfortable
doing wet-lab work due to cost, information, and safety concerns.
Meredith and Kay are obviously exceptions to this. As well, I believe
most DIYbio experiments require high school level knowledge - i.e.
transforming bacteria. But rather than transforming dummy genes like a
high school lab, we will be adding in complex, useful, DNA. Travis
also asked about the best way to find out how many DIYbiologists
exist. I said to check out this mailing list and lab equipment
auctions.

There's talk of Monitor hosting a workshop in San Francisco in early March.

Best,
Tito

Bryan Bishop

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Feb 2, 2009, 11:18:26 PM2/2/09
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On Mon, Feb 2, 2009 at 7:03 PM, Tito Jankowski wrote:
> Please post your comments and feedback if you chat with Monitor!
> Overall, I enjoyed the interview and am excited about the project. I
> hope we get access to the final report - a compilation of these
> interviews through someone else's eyes would be valuable to our
> development.

I agree, and encourage others to share their thoughts on the
interviews. I wasn't sure what the interview was mainly going to be
about, since the topic was mainly "biohacking", and then turned into a
discussion on security issues. Anyway, overall, there are different
constraints to security when it comes to biology than is normally
expected or thought of- biology has its own way about it, and just
wishing it all away doesn't fix bad things from happening.

It's kind of hard to frame this in the correct manner because the
interviews start off from the negative perspective of (ultimately
thermodynamically impossible) security; there's a lot of alternative
positives that can be offered, however. I'm thinking in the areas of
collaborative engineering and so on. I mentioned that we're all quite
willing to help out on these topics, though ultimately we're "doing it
ourself" - mostly because previous institutions simply don't work out
- so our ideas might end up being implemented on our own anyway ..
though help is always welcome. :-)

- Bryan
http://heybryan.org/
1 512 203 0507

JonathanCline

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Feb 3, 2009, 1:32:32 AM2/3/09
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It might be a good idea for everyone who has an intention on
fabricating anything to skim existing legislation (even if not in the
U.S.), as visibility into our project grow. Notable is:
The Bioterrorism Act of 2002, http://www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/Bioact.html
(don't over-react to the name, it covers a broad range of issues.)

Is there a list of other regulations covering work related to
culturing, isolating, cloning, GMO'ing, etc. The result of any market
study/survey will likely act from existing regulatory frameworks, so
it's best to know the status quo.


## Jonathan Cline
## jcl...@ieee.org
## Mobile: +1-805-617-0223
########################

Mackenzie Cowell

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:20:53 AM2/3/09
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NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities guidelines on Recombinant DNA:
http://oba.od.nih.gov/rdna/rdna.html - all NIH-funded work must
comply. Compliance is broad, and most institutions make the NIH
guidelines policy. Doug Ridgeway and others have started a DIY guide
pulled from sources like the NIH here:
http://docs.google.com/a/diybio.org/Doc?id=dfxdf7dw_115d3gq2wc7

The CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories
(BMBL) 5th Edition:
http://www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/biosfty/bmbl5/bmbl5toc.htm

More broadly, the CDC Biosafety Index:
http://www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/biosfty/biosfty.htm

City of Cambridge Recombinant DNA regulations:
http://www.cambridgepublichealth.org/services/regulatory-activities/rdna/overview.php
- this requires anyone doing recombinant DNA work to annually pay a
fee and get approval of a community review board. I don't know of any
other cities that do this in the US, but the UK and Japan may have
similar rules at a national level.

Michigan State University review process for work involving
Recombinant DNA: http://www.biosafety.msu.edu/rdna/rdna_index.htm

Chapter 5 of the Molecular Biology Problem Solver, "Working Safely
with Biological Materials" would be a good place to begin:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/10960397/Molecular-Biology-Problem-Solver
(scribd page 154).

A British Journalist pointed me towards some UK regulations:
HSE Leaflet on Contained Use: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg86.pdf

The GMO regulations: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2000/20002831.htm

I think we should curate this list on the wiki and at diybio.org
somewhere. At the end of this thread lets port it over to those
sites. A good goal might be to categorize the resources into "Must
Read", "Good to Know" and "Referece" categories..

Mac

Rajagopal

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:37:25 AM2/3/09
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Hi
All are worried about legislations and rules of the fed to run labs.But if a
person does an individual experiment at home what is the law?
Is there any ban on this?
VR

Mackenzie Cowell

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:46:41 AM2/3/09
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Raj,

1. I'm worried about someone doing something stupid, or more likely, a
public uproar over what looked stupid and unsafe, but wasn't.

2. In many cases the federal government is not the regulating body (at
least not directly). Instead, institutions have their own safety and
ethics review boards.

3. In answer to your last question, the City of Cambridge in MA has
Recombinant DNA regulations that control all recombinant DNA work,
done by technician, scientist, 11 year old, etc. Their definition of
recombinant dna work, however, depends on the definition used in the
NIH guidelines, which make exceptions for certain work with k12 e.
coli.

4. In conclusion, I agree that we should be developing resource that
help diy experimentalists understand all the laws at play. Zoning,
public health, OSHA, chemical disposal, recombinant dna laws, etc.

Mac

Marnia Johnston

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Feb 3, 2009, 4:10:14 PM2/3/09
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Notes on my interview w/ 360 Monitor:
I spoke with Nils on Friday about the report 360 Monitor is putting
together. Basically they just did a report on the history of computer
hacking and have been asked do do a trend study on biohackers with an
eye on future, possibly malicious hacks (like what Russian patriot
hackers did to Georgian government networks during the Olympics). I
basically told him that I personally have not done any synthetic
biology and that I got involved with DIYbio as an artist who is
interested in doing bioart. We talked about the culture of DIY and
innovation here in the US and that those memes are carried on when new
technologies become affordable or easy to make. He wanted to see what
a DIY lab looks like and I told him that we don't have one as yet
(here in San Francisco). We talked about the need for open
communication and a universal ethical understanding (among the
synthetic biologist community as well as with government agencies and
the general public). I told him that I would be willing to contact my
bioartist friends but that they might be reluctant to participate
because of clashes in the past with the FBI and other agencies (ie
Critical Art Ensemble). In any case, we agreed to talk again on Wed.

Tito and I had a phone conversation last night and think that it would
be benificial for Nils to attend our next DIYbio-SF meeting (maybe
this Sat.).

Best,
Marnia Johnston

phillyj

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Feb 3, 2009, 4:42:05 PM2/3/09
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When people see DIYbio, they think biohacking or genetic engineering
at home or on a low budget. What I see is curious people experimenting
on their own. That must be the atmosphere we must promote. Remember
Edison, Faraday, Galileo, Bill Gates, etc. Like them, our goal is to
promote the resurgence in personal research.

http://homebrewbioscience.blogspot.com/

Meredith L. Patterson

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Feb 3, 2009, 4:46:27 PM2/3/09
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One of the things I pointed out during my interview is that I consider
birdwatchers and gardeners to be DIYbioers just as much as the people
on this mailing list are. Birdwatchers go to tremendous effort to
track the migratory patterns of thousands of species, and help us
track populations as well. Some gardeners are focused on breeding
novel hybrids (e.g., people trying to breed blue roses), some want to
preserve antique strains, others are concerned about breeding food
crops that are particularly well suited to various niches. All are
performing genuine scientific research, and some of them are doing
hands-on genetic engineering even if they're not manipulating
molecules directly.

Cheers,
--mlp

Bryan Bishop

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Feb 3, 2009, 5:39:31 PM2/3/09
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On Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 3:46 PM, Meredith L. Patterson wrote:
> One of the things I pointed out during my interview is that I consider
> birdwatchers and gardeners to be DIYbioers just as much as the people
> on this mailing list are. Birdwatchers go to tremendous effort to
> track the migratory patterns of thousands of species, and help us
> track populations as well. Some gardeners are focused on breeding
> novel hybrids (e.g., people trying to breed blue roses), some want to
> preserve antique strains, others are concerned about breeding food
> crops that are particularly well suited to various niches. All are
> performing genuine scientific research, and some of them are doing
> hands-on genetic engineering even if they're not manipulating
> molecules directly.

In general I think we need more of this perspective. Everything is
"the same" but "different", and the way that nature works on its own
can be shown to be 'insecure', but what's really at stake, has nature
ever been at 'risk'? In terms of the activity of natural systems
throughout the biosphere, like the birds that we watch in the sky,
"risks" are not encoded into biology, because there is no "directed
progression of evolution" that looks down upon those (perceived)
risks- except people, who might see a bird fall and we
anthrophomorphize, a natural reaction, and assign risks to a framework
we didn't make in the first place. So maybe 'security' was never the
right model to begin with, and indeed maybe a participatory,
proactionary model is the only way to stay healthy - a proactionary
principle, anyone?

"People's freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even
critical, to humanity. This implies several imperatives when
restrictive measures are proposed: Assess risks and opportunities
according to available science, not popular perception. Account for
both the costs of the restrictions themselves, and those of
opportunities foregone. Favor measures that are proportionate to the
probability and magnitude of impacts, and that have a high expectation
value. Protect people's freedom to experiment, innovate, and
progress."

But I would go even further than Max More there: what if "the
proactionary principle" isn't just used as a risk assessment tool, but
rather (or in addition) as a code of ethics? Without proactionary
involvement, keeping active etc., you're no longer watching for birds,
keeping the gardens running, or even doing much of anything, and how
healthy could that really be?

Just describing precautions is fearmongering, and you can't scare your
immune system into becoming healthy. Maybe call it a "participatory
principle" rather than proactionary?

But participation doesn't happen between amateur-to-government,
historically, and in fact that might not even be legal,
constitutionally or from a charter perspective. So I've been trying to
emphasize participatory involvement to those bringing up security
issues, but slow moving organizations aren't really up to the times
with fast acting individuals-- even if those fast-actors are
*positive*.

Anyway, just some thoughts.

(ideally I wouldn't have to talk about these issues, and just get on
with my work)

Jason Bobe

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:14:11 PM2/3/09
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I would like to second meredith's notion that DIYbio encompasses much more than genetic engineering & synbio. 

I don't think has been articulated very well yet.  A few days ago, Mac posted a summary of the major areas that fall within DIYbio:

- Constructive Biology (genetic engineering, synthetic biology)
- Exploratory Biology, aka Molecular & Macroscopic Naturalism
- Personal Genomics & Medicine
- Computational Biology
- DIY Hardware
- Safety, Ethics, Best Practices
 
The categories will surely evolve and be refined.  Limiting DIYbio to individuals who do a specific type of wetwork (e.g. constructive bio) is too exclusionary. 

The areas of DIYbio that get me most excited are the application of new technologies to explore the environment and personal biology, e.g. distributed environmental sensing / monitoring. There are huge (and fun!) opportunities for amateur biologists here...

Jason Bobe

Bryan Bishop

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:27:46 PM2/3/09
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On Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 5:14 PM, Jason Bobe wrote:
> I don't think has been articulated very well yet. A few days ago, Mac
> posted a summary of the major areas that fall within DIYbio:
>
>> - Constructive Biology (genetic engineering, synthetic biology)
>> - Exploratory Biology, aka Molecular & Macroscopic Naturalism
>>
>> - Personal Genomics & Medicine
>> - Computational Biology
>> - DIY Hardware
>> - Safety, Ethics, Best Practices
>
> The categories will surely evolve and be refined. Limiting DIYbio to
> individuals who do a specific type of wetwork (e.g. constructive bio) is too
> exclusionary.

On the open manufacturing list, Paul did a good summary of the topics
that were showing up on the list-

http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/msg/b9d6f3b894f18535

"""
Anyway, I feel Bryan is right in wanting to separate out some issues. Here
are six broad areas of exploration I see right now that have been discussed
on this list:

* The world how it was historically (like what has been tried and thought
about, all the "-ologies" and "-isms", and also how they would relate to
open manufacturing and related ideals, as in, how does open manufacturing
affirm or invalidate the principles of, say, "the iron law of wages" or
"hunter/gatherer ideals" or the almost half-century old "Triple Revolution"
document.)

* The world as it is right now, and how it might be patched up (with open
manufacturing or the open enterprise or other alternatives like a new
currency to redirect the flow of manufacturing, for example, can Iceland be
saved with open manufacturing under the current dominant economic system? Or
could an Icelandic electric-Krona help it right now?)

* The world in transition to a post-scarcity future (and how open
manufacturing relates to that, as well as other proposals like, how can a
slowly expanding open source movement bring abundance to more and more
people? Or, can a different sort of currency bring about a better future
with manufacturing happening in a more open and sustainable way, like an
electric-based dollar, or a basic income guarantee, and so on). There is
some overlap here with the previous topic of patching up the world -- I'm
not combining them though because there may be people who do believe in open
manufacturing but don't believe in the possibility or desirability of a
post-scarcity future moving beyond conventional economics.

* The world as a fully post-scarcity society in the future and how it would
work (once we got there, like, how what are the implications of every home
having a 3D printer or similar system at the neighborhood level, such as
what it means to be able to print toys, or print agricultural robots to grow
our food, or print solar panels to collect power, or print diamandoid
materials to build our spacecraft, or print machines to make more 3D printer
toner from air, water, rock, and print shredders that can recycle no longer
needed printed objects back into 3D printer toner). A lot of this entails
speculation, and relates to a lot of sci-fi, from authors like Vinge, Banks,
Hogan, Brain, and so on.

* The world approaching "The Singularity" or a series of singularity-like
transitions, and a how open manufacturing values and approaches may interact
with a singularity. Again, there is overlap here with the post-scarcity
world idea, but there are people who may believe in one but not the other,
and some who believe in both, and some who believe in neither.

* Interwoven with all those societal discussions are the specific technical
artifacts we might be talking about and the process of actually designing
them in detail. But this interconnection would be more obvious if we had
some critical mass of manufacturing designs and metadata encoded in common
open formats and usable for analysis and simulation to explore all these
areas (historic, current, transitional, post-scarcity, singularity).
If there is an argument for a "openmanufacturing-dev" list like Bryan made,
that might be a clearer boundary -- the focus on making such a system (or
systems, SKDB, OSCOMAK, fenn's Gingery-related work, open biotech, and so
on, maybe in partnership with others, or using existing platforms and
standards) so it may be used to inform general discussion here, like support
detailed simulations of alternative economics and sustainability. Though
even then, should discussions of simulations be on which list? Or building
simulations is discussed on that one, and running simulations is discussed
on this one? But one could possibly work that out down the road.

All of these are overlapping, yet distinct, areas of discussion. But
discussions can quickly go from one area to another. So, amplifying on
Bryan's theme, we can wonder how open manufacturing relates to each of these
areas, and also ask how this list itself or "open manufacturing" is
presented to the public in this context. Are we emphasizing one of these six
areas? Or all? I feel all six areas have been fair game, and that's why I
feel Bryan is right to focus on the more general statement for the list;
also, it is not clear what solutions will emerge from discussions, so I feel
it is premature for the group as a whole to endorse one approach (beyond the
virtue of open manufacturing using open source methods, which ties all these
things together).
"""

So if anybody wants to not be lazy, copying that sort of style or
understanding isn't a bad idea. Obviously the topics have some
overlap, while they also have some areas where there is a lot of
difference, although it was originally my intention to forcefully
*not* make a definitive statement, as Jason points out - just
describing what it is that we do is kind of hard, since there's so
many of us doing so many neat things :-).

efer...@gmail.com

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:33:50 PM2/3/09
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It's my strong belief that we should never call diy bio Biohacking. While it may sound sexy to geeks.. Hacking is a word with tremendously negative connotations in society. It wasn't always that way but in todays computer age of malware and viruses hacking as a word is forever tainted. We are not hackers... We are people that believe in actively learning about our world and are preparing ourselves to help advance technology and help humankind. We should never let anyone label us hackers. We are only here to do good and that's why proper saftey techniques and protocols are so important to us.

Do not let reporters or media outlets skew this! They will want to write juicy stories calling diy bio hacking because there is high entertainment value with that drama angle. You know how Discovery channel scares the pants out of us with doomsday shows? We can't let that happen here. And it's not true at all. None of us want to be malicious. This isn't a computer. This is our planet and we only have one. We care about the world and humankind first and always. We all know industrial era technology is killing us... The misson of scientists everywhere (professional or diy)is to find a way to save it. Good ideas can come from anywhere = That is our motto and it's backed up by history. We all want to find ways to use technology to save the world and scientists need all the help they can get. We are running out of time. The world needs DIY BIO and we need their support and blessing.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Marnia Johnston <mar...@gmail.com>

Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 13:10:14
To: <diy...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: Monitor 360 Interviews



JonathanCline

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Feb 3, 2009, 6:57:39 PM2/3/09
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On Feb 3, 5:14 pm, Jason Bobe <jasonb...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> The categories will surely evolve and be refined.  Limiting DIYbio to
> individuals who do a specific type of wetwork (e.g. constructive bio) is too
> exclusionary.

> On Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 4:46 PM, Meredith L. Patterson
> <clonea...@gmail.com>wrote:
>
> > One of the things I pointed out during my interview is that I consider
> > birdwatchers and gardeners to be DIYbioers just as much as the people
> > on this mailing list are.

The fundamental question to answer is: "Why does any bio-anything have
to be done at home; why not do it in an 'official' and 'approved' lab,
such as an industry or academic lab?" This is the issue which forms
the division between "independent research or hobby tinkering in a
self-directed and self-regulated environment" -vs- "you're only
allowed to do this under an official capacity", and obviously the
former is what DIY is really all about. Imagine if Steve Jobs wasn't
able to get permission to work with Wozniak in Jobs' parents' garage.
Or if Hewlett and Packard were blocked from building their oscillator
in their garage. etc. etc. The point I'm thinking about is to focus
on is the positive aspects of self-directed experimentation. There
are a variety of reasons that Hewlett and Packard chose to build their
experiments in their startup environment, rather than go to their
bosses at (I forget where/if they were working) or their professors at
Stanford for "official project authorization".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hewlett-Packard#Founding

Although I haven't worked at HP, I've always liked "the HP Way" which
includes the guideline that engineering employees should do their own
"hobby" experiments every Friday afternoon. I don't know if any
rigorous study has been done on these projects (hobby time is tough to
track), though I do know that significant products have been started
in this "20% time". (Google has the similar guidelines for
employees, I believe, and several very successful google apps started
this way -- though unregulated projects -- including google earth --
if I'm mistaken someone correct me.)

Regardless of what bio-interested-people call themselves, it's the
unregulated innovation which is the important part. Or, if minimal
regulations are necessary for safety reasons, that innovation can
continue unfettered.

Splicer

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Feb 3, 2009, 8:20:50 PM2/3/09
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(Hope one of them knew anything about biology.)

-Splicer

Nick Taylor

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Feb 3, 2009, 10:42:08 PM2/3/09
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> I would like to second meredith's notion that DIYbio encompasses much 
> more than genetic engineering & synbio. 

I don't.

Although DIYbio can be vagueified to include everything that we've been doing since we became agrarian, that isn't actually what people are talking about.

When "people" talk about DIYbio what they mean is... the direct manipulation of the genes of replicating organisms, by people operating outside any kind of institutional oversight.

So yea - you can try redefine the word to include birdwatching, but actually "birdwatching" already does a pretty good job of describing birdwatching, so when someone in the press (or outside the DIYbio community) talks about DIYbio, you can be sure they're not talking about birdwatching... they're specifically talking about people directly mucking about with genes (and not (before anyone says it (again)) selective breeding).

Trying to conflate DIYbio with birdwatching is (in my most humble of opinions) spin... which is something that I've got a bit of a problem with. It's not the same as deep-framing - where we acknowledge the safety issues, but frame the entire thing (for example) as a fledgling industry that needs protecting.

Back to safety: I've not seen anything that convinces me that directly manipulating genes of replicating organisms IS safe... and the more I talk to people involved, trying to convince me that it is, the less safe it seems. What I come across more often than not, is fairly frightening naivety. People seem to know a lot about biology, but quite often have this massive blind-spot for ecology.






Jason Bobe

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Feb 3, 2009, 11:27:42 PM2/3/09
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On Tue, Feb 3, 2009 at 10:42 PM, Nick Taylor <nick...@googlemail.com> wrote:
Trying to conflate DIYbio with birdwatching is (in my most humble of opinions) spin... which is something that I've got a bit of a problem with. It's not the same as deep-framing - where we acknowledge the safety issues, but frame the entire thing (for example) as a fledgling industry that needs protecting.

Maybe birds are too large.  What about microbe watching? 

Nick: Although you prefer a narrow definition of DIYbio, to include only constructive biology / synbio / genetic engineering, such a definition isn't consistent with the history of the organization or its future. 

Since the beginning (~April 2008), when there were only two people using the word "DIYbio" (Mac and myself) the world was neatly dividing into constructive bio (Mac) and exploratory bio (me).  Since then many people have joined in (~550) and groups started in several cities.  The DIYbio meet-ups I've participated in, including both Boston and SF, have primarily focused on exploratory bio and hardware hacking (constructive bio being discussed more than practiced).

Admittedly, constructive bio has mustered more attention than exploratory bio, but that's a function of Mac's charisma and what the media finds newsworthy.  As with you, the media finds safety / regulatory policy vis-a-vis constructive bio particularly interesting.  As they should, there's lots to discuss on this front.   

Amateur microbe hunting, bio-surveillance, and environmental sensing as embodied in the bioweathermap and other projects will surely add a lot of folks to the DIYbio community.  Some of us have been working to build-out this part of the community, so I find assertions that they're "not really DIYbio" particularly worrisome and a little annoying. 

Exploratory bio folks, please hang around ;)

Thanks,
Jason Bobe

Cory Tobin

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Feb 3, 2009, 11:43:51 PM2/3/09
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> Although DIYbio can be vagueified to include everything that we've been
> doing since we became agrarian, that isn't actually what people are talking
> about.

I think the name DIYbio was "vagueified" on purpose to include all of
biology. If this was a community of people only working on E. coli
genetics the group would instead be called
"DIY-Ecoli-molecular-biology".


-Cory

Nick Taylor

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Feb 4, 2009, 1:49:04 AM2/4/09
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> Trying to conflate DIYbio with birdwatching is (in my most humble of
> opinions) spin... which is something that I've got a bit of a
> problem with. It's not the same as deep-framing - where we
> acknowledge the safety issues, but frame the entire thing (for
> example) as a fledgling industry that needs protecting.


> Maybe birds are too large. What about microbe watching? 

> Nick: Although you prefer a narrow definition of DIYbio, to include only 
> constructive biology / synbio / genetic engineering, such a definition 
> isn't consistent with the history of the organization or its future. 


As you wish... though to be fair (to err... me), I'd prefer there to be a lot more ecologists - who are (I suspect) of the exploratory-bio species, and probably very keen on bio-weathermapping. Personally, I think eco-expertise is fairly crucial to offset some of the risk associated with introducing new species into unsuspecting environments - and even without that, we need to be a lot better at biosphere management anyway.

So... on this I will speak no more - but I bet it won't be the last time you hear it. DIYbio though technically very old, is to most people very new... they'll be looking for fireworks. They'll be talking about fireworks.


Rajagopal

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Feb 4, 2009, 2:32:23 AM2/4/09
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I agree. Bioinnovations or biolab or bioexperiments,micobiodiy or diychembio
etc may suit.It is not hacking .Actually it is a wrong term.Nature is nerver
hacked .only artificizlity is hacked.
pl discuss

Raj

Nick Taylor

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Feb 4, 2009, 3:16:58 AM2/4/09
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> I agree. Bioinnovations or biolab or bioexperiments,micobiodiy or diychembio 
> etc may suit.It is not hacking .Actually it is a wrong term.Nature is nerver 
> hacked .only artificizlity is hacked.
> pl discuss

> Raj


Sounds a bit like hippies saying "everything that comes form plants is natural man".

If you're not too squeamish, try googling 'mouse ear'. Looks pretty hacked to me.


Marnia Johnston

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Feb 4, 2009, 3:28:22 AM2/4/09
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The ear is made of mouse cells grown on small ear structure. No genetic hack.

Nick Taylor

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Feb 4, 2009, 3:40:25 AM2/4/09
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>> >> I agree. Bioinnovations or biolab or bioexperiments,micobiodiy or
>> >> diychembio
>> >> etc may suit.It is not hacking .Actually it is a wrong term.Nature is
>> >> nerver
>> >> hacked .only artificizlity is hacked.
>> >> pl discuss
> >

> > Sounds a bit like hippies saying "everything that comes form plants is
> > natural man".
> >
> > If you're not too squeamish, try googling 'mouse ear'. Looks pretty hacked
> > to me.

> The ear is made of mouse cells grown on small ear structure. No genetic hack.

Be sure to tell the mouse.

In the meantime, consider that this was in response to "Nature is nerver hacked" - we weren't talking about genetic hacks per-se, though from your choice of words I gather that we probably could.

Len Sassaman

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Feb 4, 2009, 4:35:32 AM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, 3 Feb 2009, Jason Bobe wrote:

> Maybe birds are too large. What about microbe watching?

I recall studying the biology of birds in my high school bio courses. I
don't see what size has to do with anything.

Personally, I consider myself student of Natural Philosophy. Be it virons,
or homeostatic planet systems, I'm interested. If someone were to develop
new tools to aid birdwatchers, I think that would be incredibly useful.

(The "development of new tools and methods" aspect of this "movement" is
what strikes me as key. Pulling science back out of locked labs, setting
it free from the ivory tower and the commercial research corporations, and
allowing and enabling the amateur to perform experiments, develop
protocols, and contribute to the body of scientific knowledge, is the
important component to what we're doing here, whether it's hacking yogurt
bacteria or monitoring bee populations or birdwatching or theorizing about
ecology, the important aspect is that all one needs to get involved is a
minimum level of intelligence, curiosity, access to literature, and a
willingness to adhere to scientific and experimental rigor.)


--Len.

Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm

tyso...@gmail.com

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Feb 4, 2009, 6:38:09 AM2/4/09
to DIYbio
Throws two bits into the ring

It would seem the question here is of the utility of words. I would
remind everyone here that a lot of negative and neutral press has
already been disseminated to the public about the activities of DIYbio
engineers. We need to be cognizant of the fact that should the media
publish bad press about our activites, the public will do what it has
become exceedingly good at and demand a knee jerk solution, ie
regulation, taxation, fining, inspection, or an outright ban or
moratorium of our activities. The utility and connotation of the words
we choose to associate with ourselves then becomes quite important. As
efern so aptly put it, "It's my strong belief that we should never
call DIYbio Biohacking. While it may sound sexy to geeks.. Hacking is
a word with tremendously negative connotations in society."
Hacking and subsequently biohacking, can cause damage to our aims and
goals precisely because when people hear the word hack, also
associated with violence, they immediately assume it to be a bad
thing, possibly conjuring to mind images of mad scientists with killer
viruses, mutant horrors, deathrays, shocks of white hair and bad
teeth. I would suggest that for matters of public affairs we refrain
from the term Biohacking and refer to our selves as citizen-
scientists, both positively connoted words, gengineers, whimsically
geeky, or DIYbiologists. It must not be forgotten that the nation is
not run by the intelligent but by the masses. The masses are
subsequently composed of the average and behave accordingly.
As for Meredith bringing in gardeners and birdwatchers into the scope
of what we do it was quite politic. By equating an unknown, and
therefore scary, concept such as DIYbiology with, forgive the pun,
garden variety activities which the public considers harmless and even
beneficial we gain some of the respectability of the same.
As for Mr. Bobe, I do understand your frustration however once you
release an idea to the commons it is sadly no longer yours. Keep in
mind I do agree with you, However it is up the the constituent members
of a group to decide its soul, not necessarily its leaders. However I
would like to see this list expand to involve other disciplines and
perhaps create some interdisciplinary partnerships.
Now if we could please bring the topic back to where it started and
hear from the rest of those who have talked with the people from 360
monitoring.

phillyj

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Feb 4, 2009, 9:20:24 AM2/4/09
to DIYbio
Don't even bother comparing it to hacking. Try programming if you want
as that is probably the closest computer parallel idea. DIYbio and
related fields are the research work done as a hobby or for a personal
goal, not for money, fame, etc. It is something you enjoy or is a
search that could not be funded by corporations or governments. I
don't mean dangerous work but things that are probably frivolous or
lacking economic potential to the big guys. I do my small studies as a
way to pass time and also to learn by myself. The work is promoted to
enrich and inspire others to be thinking scientifically and logically.

Len Sassaman

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Feb 4, 2009, 2:38:28 PM2/4/09
to DIYbio
Programming == hacking.
Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm

Andrew Hessel

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Feb 4, 2009, 3:14:18 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
Just wanted to share my interview experience.  I spoke with Travis and Nils was teleconferenced in for a few minutes, but his connection was dropped at some point.

**

I was given the preamble about how their client was looking at DIY from a security aspect, etc.  I provided a bit of professional background about myself (genetics, molbio) and my history with iGEM, etc.  I told Travis my central thesis is that DNA is a programming language.

I said I do not consider the DIY community biohackers any more than academic life scientists are biohackers.  If they are working to understand a process, generate weathermaps, etc, what they are doing is science.  They may be amateur, but amateurs see things in new ways and create new ideas.  Those that are trying to create tools, technologies, or organisms are practicing engineering, mostly at the proof-of-concept level.  I also pointed out that people have been manipulating biology for thousands of years; this is really about a shift to manipulating microbes and using molecular biological or genetic tools as they've become better understood and more accessible.

I noted iGEM's growth rate has tapered off to a "mere" 50%, estimated, year over year, and suggested a few reasons.  It's expensive to participate; the organizers are not as comfortable in open discussion, tend not to use tools like YouTube, Google, FB, etc; and there are a finite number of teams that any given univeristy can support.  (We've already doubled up teams in Alberta).  I saw DIY as a "son of iGEM" with more growth potential because it's not as limited, isn't locked into (mainly) BioBrick construction projects, and is able to organize into virtual teams.  High schools represent a rich source of growth for iGEM, but that DIY is even more likey to appeal to this community.

I felt that consolidation and publication of regulations were a good thing, since most DIY'er would work to abide by rules if there were clear and sensible.  My bias is for community labs, either run as a cooperative or as a business.  I believe these would enhance community, promote good practices, reduce the proliferation of poorly-operated home labs, and possibly incubate new ventures.  I feel that the urge to work at home on this stuff will stay limited to the hardcore DIY class unless a new wave of lab equipment emerged -- a plug for SmartLab tools, really.  I'd love to see more intelligent equipment, particularly in test and measurement.  Design and synthesis is already virtualized and/or outsourced.

When asked about security, I said I believed security issues were small, mainly limited at this point to safe reagent handling, fires, disposal, etc.  I think the risk of anyone creating anything truly dangerous is low.  To my mind, DIY represented less threat than small, legal and funded biotech companies rushing their products to market without sufficient testing or oversight -- an economically driven reality today, and sure to increase as startup biotechs proliferate.  There were plenty of ways to manipulate the societal concerns about this technology without doing anything in a lab.

As to economics, I commented that any region that chokes the budding interest in this area will be shooting themselves in the foot, since life science is a massive and still underexplored driver with lots of low-hanging fruit up for grabs.  The US has fallen behind other geographical regions in some areas of life science because of an overly conservative stance; a thriving DIY community could play a role in reinvigorating the industry.  Increasing the awareness about these tools and technologies, promoting or facilitating their exploration in a postive and responsible way, and encouraging investment in startups would be helpful, if one is interested in creating a thriving bioeconomy.

Cheers,
Andrew

efer...@gmail.com

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Feb 4, 2009, 3:26:02 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
Excellent work Andrew! :) I very much enjoyed the points you expressed.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


From: Andrew Hessel
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2009 15:14:18 -0500


To: <diy...@googlegroups.com>
Subject: Re: Monitor 360 Interviews

Mackenzie Cowell

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Feb 4, 2009, 5:55:24 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
Indeed! Your rhetoric was excellent - I couldn't help but agree with
all of it. But of course, I'm biased. I hope you had the same effect
on Monitor 360 and their mysterious clients.

Mac

Nick Taylor

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Feb 4, 2009, 6:05:28 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com

>> Don't even bother comparing it to hacking. Try programming if you
>> want as that is probably the closest computer parallel idea. DIYbio
>> and related fields are the research work done as a hobby or for a
>> personal goal, not for money, fame, etc. It is something you enjoy
>> or is a search that could not be funded by corporations or
>> governments. I don't mean dangerous work but things that are
>> probably frivolous or lacking economic potential to the big guys. I
>> do my small studies as a way to pass time and also to learn by
>> myself. The work is promoted to enrich and inspire others to be
>> thinking scientifically and logically.

> Programming == hacking.

And at risk of raising the ire of the non-gene-tinkering people, I would have thought that taking some DNA from one organism and inserting it into another to see what happens is about as close to bio-hacking as you're ever going to get.

Hacking is to do with pulling things apart to see how they work, then reassembling them so they work in ways not originally intended.

Taking a phosphorescent protein out of a jellyfish and inserting it into a plant is exactly analogous to taking a chip you've programmed on your laptop and putting it in your Xbox 360.

I know we're straying from talking about communication to semantics here... but while it may be good for the community to get its language sorted out up front etc, "biohacking" is simply too good a word for the rest of humanity not to use, so it will be used. If you're talking about tinkering with genes (and many of you aren't, but my guess is that everyone else in the world will be) then you can't really argue facts on this one, because they're not on your side.

So... um don't mention biohacking by all means, but it might be best not to pretend that that isn't what's happening.

Meredith L. Patterson

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Feb 4, 2009, 6:17:13 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 12:05 AM, Nick Taylor <nick...@googlemail.com> wrote:
> Hacking is to do with pulling things apart to see how they work, then
> reassembling them so they work in ways not originally intended.

Or sometimes just pulling them apart to see how they work, full stop.
That's what I was doing with my transistor radio when I was six,
anyway.

> I know we're straying from talking about communication to semantics here...
> but while it may be good for the community to get its language sorted out up
> front etc, "biohacking" is simply too good a word for the rest of humanity
> not to use, so it will be used.

+1. Marcus Wohlsen (the AP reporter) actually said he was glad I
preferred the term "biohacking", as that was the one he was going to
use anyway.

--mlp

Jason Kelly

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Feb 4, 2009, 6:23:27 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
We put "DNA Hacker" on our business cards at Ginkgo ;) So far reviews
have been positive, FWIW.

thanks,
jason

phillyj

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Feb 4, 2009, 7:59:14 PM2/4/09
to DIYbio
This is more like bringing the resources to the people. It used to be
that computers were in the big universities or governments. Now its
everywhere and that brought both advantages and disadvantages.
Disadvantages include spam, malicious files, and crackers. Advantages
include the open source software and data, ingenious applications,
etc. Same goes for DIYbio. Use the equipment you can afford and your
skills and explore anything. I really wasn't interested in this as a
hobby until I came to DIYbio and saw the fun things I could work on
on. Most of the posters here have much better training so they have
more advanced ideas and plans.

http://homebrewbioscience.blogspot.com/

On Feb 4, 6:23 pm, Jason Kelly <ja...@ginkgobioworks.com> wrote:
> We put "DNA Hacker" on our business cards at Ginkgo ;)  So far reviews
> have been positive, FWIW.
>
> thanks,
> jason
>
> On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM, Meredith L. Patterson
>
> <clonea...@gmail.com> wrote:

Len Sassaman

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Feb 4, 2009, 8:20:41 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
On Thu, 5 Feb 2009, Nick Taylor wrote:

> So... um don't mention biohacking by all means, but it might be best not
> to pretend that that isn't what's happening.

Biohacking is what Meredith and I are doing. Not sure about the rest of
you. ;)


--Len.

Disclaimer: http://www.kuleuven.be/cwis/email_disclaimer.htm

Eric Fernandez

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Feb 4, 2009, 8:36:39 PM2/4/09
to diy...@googlegroups.com
Hello Nick,

I don't think any of us disagree you with you that the pure "dictionary meaning" of hacking isn't an accurate depiction of DIY BIO. We see your point. What we are saying is that careful speakers choose words both for what they mean (their dictionary meanings or denotations) and for what they suggest (their connotations, or emotional associations). "Slim," "scrawny," and "svelte" all have related denotative meanings (thin, let's say) but different connotative meanings.

"Hacking" is no different. It is a word that has been shaped by its use in culture. We understand why you love it. To a wide variety of intellectuals and techies, it is a word dripping with heroic appeal, stardom, and youthful rebellion. It is intelligence trumping business (DRM, IPHONE). It is the movie that may have inspired many to join the internet revolution ("Hackers"). It is many inspirational things to this group. They see the bad sides of hacking but more often then not "hacking" for them is an exciting form of intellectual liberation.

However, as we have stated. It's important to go beyond this nitche and consider the general public. For the general public the meaning of hacking is usually just the opposite. The dictionary definition is not what they feel or think when they hear the word "hacker" or "hacking." Far from it. The word for them is much simpler to them. They learned that word not from a dictionary, but on NBC or 60 minutes when the first computer viruses came out. For them, "hacking" means creating evil malicious things that hurt society. In the realm of computers they imagine viruses and credit card theft. When you mention BIO hack many will worry about the creation of bio viruses and epidemics.  Imagine for a moment two conversations between mothers about their sons. In one conversation her mother tells her PTA group that her son is a citizen scientist studying free MIT videos and working with genes. The other conversation her mother tells the group her son is a bio hacker hijacking genes and placing them into unsuspecting organisms to see what will happen. Both are technically true in a definition sense. But, in the first conversation the mothers will imagine a respectful son and scholarships. In the second they will imagine the need for law enforcement.  Its the psychology of language. You can't get around it.

Yes, people will still use the term "Biohacking" regardless. It's too sexy and interesting of a word for it not to be used, it's an accurate dictionary definition, and it almost guarantees media attention. But it's one thing is for a term to be applied to a group by opponents, and its another thing all together for a group to be using the term to define themselves. (The past election is a good example. Word choice was flying all over the place. Staying on a tight message with the right connotations is what made David Axelrod so genius and helped the Dems win the election. Remember, a stupid phrase "flip flopper" lost the election for Kerry when "flip flopping" just means changing your mind based on important new information and evidence, which can be a very responsible and intellectual thing to do. Imagine if the republicans found out Kerry was a "hacker" they would have had a field day!)

Now we may say that we should just ignore the general public's opinion, but remember that laws are passed by public opinion and BIO has the potential to be a heavily restricted and regulated area. We might want to put away our dictionaries and turn on our cultural and political awareness.

DIY BIO is the seed of something great. Let's do our best to protect it.