Reflections on Citizen Science in Switzerland and Hackteria's forgotten pioneering role

Hoi zäme,

(stumbled of this old email thread and expanding on it, added all kinda local friends)

btw… this “Swiss Science Council” thing did come out about 1 year ago:

Thx for the credits, Bruno!

I am having a bit of downer today… so many years we have been involved with our hackteria stuff in and around the sometimes labelled as “Citizen Science” activities (please see the capitalization)… but with what impact, or influence / visibility? lost in the dark archives of the world wide web? Or just cos it’s happening on the other side of the planet it doesnt count (and they are coffee coloured skin anyway)?

“Citizen science has long contributed to the health of local communities by making people aware of their environment in the form of oral histories and traditional wisdom. Recently, the effort to democratize science created opportunities for innovation and a model for public participation in science. These movements rippled into many things such as a kind of revival of traditional knowledge, influential policy forces, changes in how we produce and share knowledge into an iterative and collective process. Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has been one of the most active hubs in this movement.”

And what means “Next Level Citizen Science”? Just googled it… see attachment.

Even our close collaborators (sorry to say so, Bruno) write in their report about how the DIY community biolabs have been invented in the United States.

While the start of our hackteria activities was in Madrid, Berlin, Bangalore, Yogyakarta, Vico Morcote (yes that’s Switzerland, even if they speak Italian), Hong Kong and Bergen, also in Switzerland it’s 10 years now… HackteriaLab 2010

“The forum, organised by the co-founder Dr. Marc Dusseiller, will consist of a 4 days constructivist DIY and BioArt lab with invited international artists followed by a public symposium confronting local scientists with the artists and discussing common subjects, such as microscopy, synthetic biology, bionanotechnology and animal experimentation. The audience will get to understand how hackteria. as a community platform, encourages the collaboration of scientists, hackers and artists.”

Or the Workshop series in Zurich 2011:

There was tons of newspaper articles and interviews… this one from 2012:

There is no field of knowledge production in which belonging to an institution is as important as it is in science. Or maybe there was. The so-called ivory tower of science, from where scientists isolated from society would produce and distribute their knowledge to the people, has proven bogus decades ago.”
“If we had more public labs, places where art, hacking and citizen biology converge and contaminate each other, more people would acquire specific critical skills to understand and interact with the life sciences. Or, in the worst-case scenario, we would have lots of fun.” – Alessandro Delfanti

And since we started to actively reach out to all the local “newcomers” in CS, university professors suddenly writing “Standards”, bureaucrats founding centralized “Geschäftsstelle für Citizen Science” in some Bundesamt in Bern, we reflected and collaborated, beginning with amazing discussions in RandeLab:

Trying again (see above) to make people “understand how hackteria encourages the collaboration…”, for example with the workshop at Science et Cité “Biohacking meets Citizen Science”, which turns out has been completely forgotten, since the team changed in their office no one ever updated them on earlier collaborative activities, except their internal and academic hierarchies… and further meetings were again held in their little meeting room in BundesBern, during day times working hours.

In fact, besides the very fruitful collaboration with Gabi, Bruno et. al for BioFabbing, what else has happend since?

New initiatives such as the “Partizipative Wissenschaftsakademie” have never heard about our activities until 1 week ago. it’s a coincidence that their IT supporter is married to our main local and international Taiwanese-Swiss co-organizer 2010-2016, Pei-Wen… and we went there… and it was kinda fun. but i can’t imagine a worse venue and format as this, university hallway, standard SV-service catering, poster walls… at least it was in the evening and not during working-hours.

And talking about BioFabbing…

what visibility has it generated? has anybody written something about all the amazing discussions we had? or reflected on the format of collaboration across institutional borders? even the wikipedia article about “DIY bio is dead” has been deleted :slight_smile:

even though much has been openly and publicly documented on our forum:

So going back to that “Report” for the Swiss Science Council, what is written there as a last sentence in the Executive Summary:

“The great opportunities of citizen science for science, education, and democracy, but also the risks of cooptation by scientific institutions and of populist undermining of professional expertise deserve serious critical attention from scholars and policy makers.”

Is this happening? What does that mean anyway?

sorry, i am in this kinda mood today,

hope to meet you all soon again!

Stay tuned for upcoming international and local activities, part of HLabX programme and rumours are around, that we might open a public space for workshops and other activities finally in Zurich

Is ready to hit the ground? does that mean some kinda “grounding” crashing the whole initiation when it started? ahahaaa…

“In addition to financial support from the two universities, the center has been granted funding of 2.58 million francs by the Stiftung Mercator Schweiz to establish the Participatory Science Academy, led by Susanne Tönsmann. The Stiftung Mercator Schweiz supports the Participatory Science Academy in order to foster cooperation between academia and the general public and to try out new forms of collaboration.”


My question relates to their own “develop together from the very start”. maybe that’s their vision, but i think they should have started that very approach from their own start for their “Center”!

i guess that continues the long discussion we had on an older thread:

And this discussion we had during the interview with d. Landwehr.

Bio-Hacking: Do-it-yourself Biologie für jeden
“Ist es möglich, die Ideen von Do-it-yourself, Hacking und Open Culture von der Computerwissenschaft auf die Biologie zu übertragen? – Ja sagen die Biohacker: Die Öffentlichkeit hat ein Recht, Methoden dieser Wissenschaften zu kennen und selber auszuprobieren, das gilt auch für die Gentechnik und ihre allerneusten Methoden wie CRISPR. Seit über zehn Jahren machen Biohacker von sich reden, auch in der Schweiz. Grund genug für ein Update: Im Gespräch mit Dominik Landwehr diskutieren neben dem Schweizer Biohacking Pionier Marc Dusseiller die Wissenschaftsvermittlerin Lucy Patterson sowie der Zürcher Wissenschaftsjournalist Roland Fischer. Das Gespräch fand am 13.Januar 2018 in Zürich statt. Länge 1 Stunde 5 Minuten.”

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Hi Marc,

I understand your concern and I totally agree with you. This trend is everywhere actually, it seems like there is a desire to keep open science-citizen science as elitist, reserved only for academia.

This tuesday, I attended the First UN Open Science meeting, It was so sad to see that they just replaced open access by open science. (The same thing is happening in France with their national policy on open science). During this UN meeting, my speech was to remind them that open science is more than Open access/research/académia. and I presented this pictures you help me design two years ago.

Le jeu. 21 nov. 2019 à 07:19, Marc Dusseiller via Global Hackteria Network a écrit :


The pioneers, and path makers often get forgotten. There seems to be this problem that once the bandwagon is built by the pioneers, the pionerrs get displaced by better resourced exploiters. As a movement DIYBio and Maker Culturehas to be one of the most studied, but we as diybio-makers dont seem to benefit much in the exchange. For a while we had a nice section of articles writtedn by practiioners for the wider audience on the online part of Nature about DIYBio, but the link is now dead. All movements(big generalisations( seem to get professionalised or commercialised, or academicised. The trick is how to keep on that wave rather than see it pass us by.

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