Before you leave

Before you leave… could you please let us know how we could have made Biofabbing even better?

  1. What did you really like?

  2. What would do differently?

  3. What would you add?

Biofabbing was an experiment. Would be nice to know the result! And see how we would make an even more creative, reflexive, and fun event next time!

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Hi @bruno, where/to-whom do we send this feedback?

What about right here on the forum?

wonderful, here ya go:

  1. What did you really like?

I liked the Unconference way more than I thought I would. Kudos to all the organizers, encouragers, prompters, facilitators, trouble-makers and the hanger-ons.

I also really like(d) the idea of procuring and cooking food. Not only is this way cheaper than a fancy but almost-always-boring meal, it actually achieves many of the meta-purposes of the workshop. More on this below.

  1. What would you do differently?

At this point, I am almost thinking that I would shorten the presentations by 5-10 mins each, and use the freed up time for even more unconference/hands-on workshops. Perhaps the speakers on specific topics could introduce themselves followed by a 5 mins overview of their concern/topic, and then remain available to talk to whoever cares to follow-up one-on-one. If enough people are concerned about that specific topic, follow the intro up with an unconference session.

  1. What would you add?

I would add more discussion around building a lobby for citizen science, particularly to represent the interests of the citizens to the institutional scientific-industrial complex.

I would also add more hands-on sessions. In my view, the purpose of these sessions would not be so much as to learn how to do something specific but more to learn to work with people I barely know. Just from helping in the kitchen to rassle up food for 50+ hungry people, I know that working with a crew really helps me establish a much closer relationship than I could by just chatting with someone in the hallway.

But, I can’t add something without taking out something. So, in my not so humble view, I would take out the more academically oriented sessions such the role of STS/critical studies, etc.

Finally, my unstinting thanks to all those who made the event possible: @Bruno, @sabgaby, @dusjagr, @gaudi, the back-office staff, IdeaSquare, and whoever else played their part in this. My utmost gratitude for causing my life to intersect with a most fine set of folks.

  1. I really liked the diversity of people from different countries and occupations. I also have to say BRAVO to all the orga team for raising the funds and sorting out the venues and accomodations and of course the food so that we didnt need to spend so much money on grub ourselves. If I had to pick a favorite moment however I’m afraid it had nothing to do with the whole event at all. It was when I discovered a Polka band playing next to hackuarium while having a cigarette. Been a while since I heard good Polka music

  2. I would find a way to skip the whole “so i do bla what do you do” dinner small talk bullshit. Maybe by asking each participant for like a little bio that we could put up on a web page or print out and hang on some wall or something. Also I feel we didn’t really see a whole lot of Geneva, so maybe I’d also allocate some planning for evening events, although it might also just be good to let everybody sort that out for themselves organically.

  3. I want to second the notion that there wasnt a lot of practical stuff going on however it was clear from the program that this would be a conference focused rather on sociological discourse then anything else. I feel we could’ve at least made some shit glow… then again after spending 6 days just above the Atlas detector we might have just done that without even trying.

TLDR: Great conference , super professional organizing which wasnt too overbearing and still left a lot of room for spontaneity. Most of the questions I had before coming have been answered and I feel inspired to innovate :wink:

  1. the amazing collection of people you brought together from all over the world. really well done. also good content. the unconference / conference merge did turn out nicely in the end, although it seemed confusion in the beginning.
    i also like the ideasquare / CERN location. Nothing in the world is more megalomanic than this project, so no matter how off and crazy your idea might sound, its totally legit compared to building a LHC :smiley:
  2. a bit more logistics planning upfront would have saved the organisational team quite some hussle and made the experience a bit smoother (e.g. not switching venues too often, or at least hire some students to take care of food and locations)
  3. i think there could have been more social media outreach from the event. it was great, but let more people become aware of what you did. this should include online video documentation of the sessions.
  1. I liked the open minded atmosphere !!!

  2. The location-switch was somehow relaxing, especially the outdoor-locations and the walks
    suggestion: maybe installing some walk-and-talk-sessions inbetween next time as a real format

  3. Video is not necessary in my opinion, but I could cover the lectures via video next time
    what I find really necessary is audio, to be able to listen to the talks later on

audio could be captured in a lowcost style if having only small budgets and could be published via soundcloud or on other platforms.

I didn´t introduce myself before > some words about me:
Some time ago I studied chemistry and fine arts (for teaching) and later on scientific filmmaking.
at the moment I mainly work as a freelance science journalist for the german (and also swiss) public radio (SWR, WDR, SRF)
and produce videos for institutions like max planck society or the federal centre for health education (BZgA)

one of my radio stories was about the work of Rüdiger, Pieter and Philipp/Bento Lab, another radio feature captured the work of the DIY-particulate matter sensing group in Stuttgart ( OK Lab Stuttgart/>Open Knowledge Foundation). ( Sorry, it´s only in german)

Maybe that group and their DIY-sensors could also be interesting for you:

Since my involvement in this group, I was thinking and dreaming of starting a DIY bio lab here in the Stuttgart/Tübingen area.
You gave me confidence that this could work even if there is no room/space to get started yet!
Let´s see how it can work.

I am glad to have met you all, Nicola

my contact:

  1. What did you really like? The people, the organization, the setting and the contents.

  2. What would do differently? Perhaps I would also invite people from other disciplines and fields that can help us with our projects and objectives. I would change the format of presentations and would turn them into a short, 5-10 min, display of the topic followed by a 15-20 min dialoge. With someone recording or taking notes to be shared later.

In the future I would do it in a warmer place with beach like Barcelona!! Please let me know if I can help with that! :slight_smile:

  1. What would you add? I would set up a number of workshops, hands on activities, demostrations and offer them before the conference for participants to sign up previously. Those with high demand can be offered more times.

I think you guys did a great job. I felt very confortable, met great people and was a great fun learning experience. Congrats!!!


Hi All.

I didn´t introduce myself before. My name is Geger from -
Yogyakarta, Indonesia. My background are in education and politics (no
academic background in science and biology).I like to make experiment on
fermentation, both beverage an foods. Activism connected to street art and
bicycle, city movement are my interests.

BioFabbing 2017 was great conference and sure I was glad to be there with
all smart people. For me the conference was well organized and super. For
me this was the time for me to meet many new friends and new networking.

  1. What did you really like?
    I liked the “informal” unconference more, especially with smaller group of
    peoples as in this session I could interact more with the people
    participated deeply, sharing ideas and opinion about many things. These
    sessions were also the best way for me to introduce my collective and
    activities in Indonesia. Personally I decided to find and to join as many
    "smaller groups" conversations, starting with coffee, foods, tobacco etc.,
    then discussed more intently after that. Collaboration and networking
    quietly happen with this way. :slight_smile:

I don’t underestimate presentation, as I am not good to make and presenting
a talk in front of many people, even formal one but the presentation were
very useful for me to get a new idea, information and challenging
knowledge. I learned many about citizen science and how collectives work
from many perspectives.

Kitchen was one of my favorite lab because foods, waters, ideas, opinions,
spirit of working together, helping each other to prepare the foods/drinks,
sharing information and knowledge, DITO, DIY things were also available.
People from all over the world with their diversity of background and
work/profession were also in the best way to start “hi, hello, where are
you come from, bla bla” then – deeper discussion and how the #kitchenlab
made miracle.

Ideasquare / CERN, Hackuarium and UTOPIANA were amazing.

  1. What would do differently?
    Many volunteers, dynamics conversations, outside “conference”, and
    spontaneous workshops. Many participants tried to hack theirselve
    organically to connect each other.

  2. What would you add?
    Biofabbing was a new experiment. I tried to make fermented tempe with many
    new friends who interested in, even the tempe finally didn’t work.
    It would be great if there are more practical workshops.

Personally, my gratitude to those who made the event

possible and made me join at IdeaSquare (Marc, Bruno, Vanessa, Gaby and
whoever else took place their role for this event. Also for all the
participants. You are wonderful. I am glad to have met you all.



1 Like
  1. What did you really like?
    I really loved the mix of people that this event brought together! I met fascinating people doing some wonderfully bizarre and creative things. I especially liked hearing about projects and spaces outside of Europe and North America. The mash-up of people felt very fruitful. Geneva was really lovely too, and now I can say I went to a conference at CERN, like a real Scientist! :space_invader:

  2. What would you do differently?
    I think the meeting of DIYBio people + the academics who research DIYBio is a great idea but it seemed like the biohackers were bored by the academic talks. (I don’t blame them!) On the other hand, since most of the DIYBio people didn’t give presentations, the only way to learn who they were and what they do was to schmooze with everyone and that was kind of exhausting. So it took me a while to figure out what all of these people were doing and why they were there, and then some people’s projects I didn’t really learn about until afterwards (like Urs’s DIY zapper thing!). If there was someway for everyone to do a proper introduction, in person or perhaps online, ideally with pictures, or something to say, “This is what I do, this is what I’ve done, this is what I dream about,” that would have been great. I think a lot of the biohackers had heard of each other because they move in overlapping scenes but most of them were new to me.

In general, I think academic conferences and self-organized skill-share convergences are really different beasts, with different modes of being, so the mash-up is difficult. Not sure I have thoughts yet on how to seamlessly combine them. What’s funny is that I’ve been in both self-organized anarchistic events as a participant and in academic conferences as an academic and this was weirdly in between. Weird in ways both good and confusing.

(One idea is perhaps to ask everyone to both present on their work and share a hands-on skill…? We could have been synthesizing DMT! Joking…)

  1. What would you add?
    I would add a simple lo-tech device: a piece of paper with logistical details, like the addresses of all the venues, how to get to each, contact numbers for organizers in case you get lost, and details on how to get into and out of CERN, that could be given to everyone on the first day. Some of this information was on the forum but buried in different threads, plus it was hard to constantly be online while navigating. (Also, not everyone has a smart phone.)
  1. What did you really like?
  • Location(s), loved the CERN and other spots
  • organization in general e.g. accommodation and food
  • atmosphere
  • discussion in the free time / with beers at CERN
  1. What would do differently?
  • my biggest point of critic is that there was so little time after the talks to discuss critically. I would prefer less talks and more room/time for discussion. For my point of view: three talks in a row and then have the big discussion to all of them afterwards was quite unsatisfying as I forgot many question during the other talks

  • general passiveness in discussion by the audience - people were in my opinion too pseudo-polite and did not question the actual issues of the talks or scientific hypothesis. Most of the times it was more “yeah nice what you are doing” attitude. I think the community miss opportunities of reflection and improvement here. The discussion should be more passionate and more engaging - this is partly the job of the track moderator(s) and the audience responsibility. But maybe I am wrong and i just missed the good talks and discussions while having discussion elsewhere.

  • Give more time to organisation of Unconference especially in the beginning - it was quite hectic too me

  1. What would you add?
  • maybe representatives of more non-bio related hackerspaces as I believe we can 1) learn interesting patterns from them 2) attract them with bio-related topics

First and foremost, I cannot be grateful enough to @dusjagr, @sabgaby, Vanessa, François, @Bruno and everyone else at CERN, UNIGE, Hackuarium, Hackteria and else, who made the event possible. I through the idea of a DIYbio Europe meeting about a year ago because I did find the previous ones I attended extremely valuable. I believe this one was just as amazing, and the broader, more international, more everything audience and content made! I apologies for running away from the organisation and not being more available during the 5 days.

  1. What did you really like?

The diversity of people was probably the most valuable asset of this meeting. Diversity in practices, opinions, visions, background, location, etc. Whatever we call it (biohacking, DIY bio, DIT bio, garage biology) we have as much in common as we differ and that’s what makes this community priceless! So where do we meet next year? :wink:

Food was simple but great, showing that it can be both affordable and tasty.

I liked the attempt to mix academics and “outsiders” although I cannot judge whether this was fully achieved. Do we have a list of attendees somewhere? Are you running analytics? :wink:

  1. What would you do differently?

I would book a remote place in the mountains (or on an island) or anywhere where nobody can escape. I was guilty of being distracted by my daily job and other obligations and I wish I could have been present 100% to get more out of it (and possibly contribute more).

  1. What would you add?

More concrete action points, maybe set up in advance. What do we want to get done within these 3 days as a community? How can we make each of our lives better when we get back to our institutions, communities, etc.