[Brmlab] your inputs needed for my article about hackerspaces for TheNextWeb

Pavel Curda pavel.curda at gmail.com
Fri Jun 14 13:09:43 CEST 2013


I kindly ask you to fill in this 3min
Pls help me with my article about hackerspaces for TheNextWeb -
I asked 15 hackerspaces from this Hackerspaces.org
 I will mention some answers in my article + interview with Denisa that I
have so far (below]

I expect your answers before June20

the form -


Pavel Curda

Who is Denisa Kera?

Something of a nomad with a cause. I travel around the world to visit and
work with hackerspaces, Do-It-Yourself biology (DIYbio) labs and various
other forms of grassroots citizen science movements. As a researcher, I’m
curious to understand what is the best way for a society to interact with,
adopt and integrate emergent technologies. I like these spaces, because
they let everyone understand and take part in the process of designing,
tinkering and playing with various ideas and technologies. I’m also excited
about the prospects of such alternative R&D structure to support research
in the developing countries, such as Indonesia or Nepal. In my day job I
teach mainly stuff around innovation and design at the National University
of Singapore, but I’m also an active member of the Prague based
hackerspace, Brmlab.cz, supporter of the global network for open biology,
Hackteria.org, and this new amazing network of mobile kids hackerspace,
HacKIDemia.com. I’m also active in Tokyo, Singapore, Yogyakarta, Kathmandu
and Shenzhen with various small projects from open science to open
hardware. This summer I’m mapping the hackerspaces in the Balkans and
becoming more curious about various initiatives in the Caucasus region.

Why are you crazy about hackerspaces?

The hackerspaces attract the most interesting people you can meet in a
city, the pragmatic visionaries, who are not afraid to take any challenge,
but jealously protect their autonomy and freedom. They actually preserve
the original mission of the universities, which is academic freedom
enabling citizens to develop skills necessary for taking an active part in
the public life, the so called “artes liberale” – liberal arts or
knowledge, which sets you free.  Nowadays it means not only law and
rhetoric, but also knowledge of science protocols, programming, hardware
hacking, and this is the best place to gain such knowledge and skills on
your own terms.  Then you can make informed decisions on stuff like GMOs,
or be able to set up an ad hoc, secure and independent network during acts
of civil disobedience.  Rather than expecting the government or some NGO to
protect you rights, you  are part of a small, resilient and independent
community, which can deal with  variosu situations, such as the ones we see
now in Istanbul, but also disasters, such as Fukushima or the flooding in
Prague.  Groups of geeks empower citizens to get independent data, and you
can see such projects not only in Japan with radiation
http://www.safecast.org/, Europe with CO2 and dust monitoring
www.kanarci.cz, but also in Indonesia with water http://lifepatch.org/.  I
admire these projects, they enable people to build sensor networks for
sharing data about their environments, but I’m personally exploring more
artistic and even science fiction themes.  What drives people like me to
these places is well summarized by a friend from Tel Aviv hackerspace, Yair
Reshef   ‘I tell ppl that in hackerspaces we don't *start* anything.  we
are here to fail. gracefully if possible. completed projects tend to
showoff.  people always look for the product. a goal embodied in an object.
it should be effortless. effortless technology. being in the flow with the
right tools and nothing better to do.’ Most of my projects are in some
perpetual gamma rather than beta version, they are graceful failure, which
I like to repeat and come back to.

Can you give us some examples?

With the Fablab Yogyakarta in Indonesia  and Hackteria.org we hacked a
mobile food truck and turned it into molecular gastronomy lab performing
this posh cuisine on the streets of Indonesia, testing and showing how
simple equipment, such as webcams can become microscopes.  It is developing
into a project supporting open hardware solutions for cheap lab equipment,
but who knows,  we may just continue in the mobile food truck fetish
ideas.  Last year, I also scanned my brain in London and performed “brain
uploading” over Dropbox and Facebook to use these fMRI data in Prague for a
workshop on data liberation for citizen science project.  This will
eventually develop into a cloud solutions for such citizen science projects
thanks to Ivan Vanzaj from Singapore hackerspace,  but I’m also excited
about the brain hacking activities in Brmlab.cz  and the work of Peter
Boraros on TDCs there. This is just to give you some idea how fluid and
collaborative these projects are. I also regularly take part in fluorescent
organisms night hunt in Swiss mountains, last time it was with hacked
Indian spiritual chants automata,  and I hope soon to take part in the
Brmlab’s hunts for meteorological stations. This is amazing,  you are
catching hardware like a prey and then developing it into something
different,  you make these thropheis you hunted into open hardware
projects, you liberate it!

What do people in hackerspaces need? Do they have commerce abitions? Do
they need marketing / business developmenmt / sales support? They are happy
without money guys?

Now seriously, hackerspaces are so far the best response to the criticism
that the pace of our technological progress doesn’t follow our moral and
social progress… that somehow we are creating things and technologies,
which do not make us better as individuals nor they help communities.  The
typical geek will never argue about this, she will find this whole
discussion ridiculous. She never knows what she is building, she doesn’t
make a distinction between scientific and social value, she accepts
uncertainty and likes to explore the possibilities. She trusts the global
community of geeks and enthusiasts who will test and take part in her
adventure and challenge her and then they will collectively and tentatively
decide on the next step.  These spaces are democratic to their core,
innovation becomes constantly evolving collective experimentation through
tinkering and testing rather than a big theory of social order or some
scientific breakthrough, disruptive technology etc.   Hackerspaces are my
playground or special  zone, where I go to dream, where I feel free to test
various crazy ideas around emergent technologies: right now I’m curious
about microfludicis and lab on a chip technologies and how to use them for
a puppetry show with small organisms, before I was looking into food
applications, I’m still an advocate for open biodata and I’m interested in
various forms of sharing biodata (fMRI and not only DNA), and in the most
active project right now we are trying to connect open hardware with
traditional crafts in Japan.  What is great for me as a designer in these
hackerspaces is that I get to understand and test how these technologies
will work in various cultural and social contexts.

I do work a bit also on serious issues such as models and infrastructure
how to support research in developing countries through DIYbio and hacker
culture, and then biosafety and biosecurity codes of conducts for DIYbio
and citizen science projects.


This year I’m often in Shenzhen where I follow the open hardware scene
thanks to my hardware gurus, Bunnie Huang,  who is setting up an amazing
summer school there, and David Li from Shanghai hackerspace, and this
amazing young muse and researcher, Silvia Lindtner, who infected me with  a
love for so called shanzhai phones, creative, DIY, cheap and crazy mobile
phones.  In Tokyo together with Jan Rod and Charith Fernando from
Inmojo.com we are about to launch the Totematons.org, project where we are
trying to look into how to support traditional artisan techniques with
custom made printed circuit boards and open hardware and define some form
of hardware artisanship, which will support old rituals with new
technologies.  I’m also preparing a workshop on open hardware for farms
with Sakar Pudasaini from Karkhana.asia, an amazing hackerspace in Nepal,
and  I’m trying to be in Yogyakarta as much as possible because that is the
most interesting DIYbio science thanks to HONF and Lifepatch.

Please show 5 projects (urls) that were born in hackerspaces that you likes
and that are still alive

Safecast http://www.safecast.org

Kanarci http://www.kanarci.cz

Bioluminescence Community Project
http://biocurious.org/projects/bioluminescence  from where this was started

Bioekectronix http://hackteria.org/wiki/index.php/Bioelectronix  and all
Hackteria projects

Totematons http://www.totematons.org/  slef promo J

What are cool hackerpaces in the world?  Central Europe? Asia / Africa ….
Is there url with hackerspace lists?

Karkhana Collective in Nepal http://www.karkhana.asia

The House of Natural Fiber (HONF- Yogyakarta New Media Art Laboratory)

HONFablab http://honfablab.org/

LifePatch (Citizen Initiative in Art, Science and Technology)

Xinchejian, Shanghai hackerspace  http://xinchejian.com

Seeedstudio Hackerpsace, Shenzhedn  http://www.chaihuo.org
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