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We are Lucy and Joram, two science hackers from Berlin, and we’re here to tell stories of DIY science: a growing movement of communities and projects that do or apply science outside of traditional institutions.

With this podcast we want to help document this diverse movement, share the stories, and in the process build a peer network to connect and learn from each other.

What is DIY Science?

DIY science is an emerging movement of hackers, artists, activists, designers, engineers, independent scientists, and many others around the world who are using science on their terms, outside of traditional institutions. Open source, distributed, collaborative, connected, this movement has the potential to radically scale and democratise science.

Over the last 100 years, as the practice of science has become increasingly specialised and sophisticated, we’ve generally come to expect that it can (or should) only be carried out by professional scientists inside well-funded institutional or corporate labs. On the whole this has been a great strategy, leading to incredible scientific progress, but this concentration of expertise and funding brings its own problems. Inevitably the interests that govern this kind of science, especially those that drive commercial research, mirror prevailing social and economic injustices. Similarly, for most people science is an exclusive and inaccessible career – those with the tenacity, good fortune, or privilege to secure such research positions will only ever represent a small slice of our diverse societies.

To contend with this, a number of movements have emerged. Open Science primarily aims to make academia more transparent by openly publishing results, data and methodologies. Citizen Science, as the term is typically understood, tries to broaden the reach of science and increase public participation, often by working with volunteers from the general public to gather or analyse data. Both however still generally work on the assumption that professional scientists should define and lead the research.

DIY science is a different response. It starts with the idea that anyone can do science: you don’t need to have elite academic training, you don’t need to be inside an institution, and you don’t need to have a huge research budget. Using second-hand or DIY equipment, simplified protocols and kitchen reagents, you can pose your own questions, explore the world around you, gather your own data. With this you can inform your decisions, reveal injustice and challenge authority, or find new forms of expression. It has the potential to open science to new perspectives, greater breadth of creativity and diversity of applications, and also more informed scrutiny.