Prologue: The Science of Collective Discovery

Prologue: The Science of Collective Discovery


I hope it’s going to stay. I have been interested in open source, ever since being a teacher and being a librarian. So in library school, they teach us that freedom of information and access to information is the number one thing that you do. And I got really interested in hackerspaces as part of this concept of a freedom of information and I wanted to learn more about hardware and electronics. Really this movement is kind of concentrated around taking back the ability to to do DIY projects and to build things again. To have shop classes and to make things that that you have imagined. My favorite thing of building something is when a LED lights up. It’s the “Hello, world” of hardware. You know that something’s working. You know that the electrons are getting from point A to point B, and that’s a real exciting feeling to have. We consider hardware to be anything that’s made with atoms rather than bits. So we’re talking, houses, things out of clay, fabric, electronics and prosthetics, and 3D printers and all kinds of things. You take that source, whatever it happens to be if it’s schematics or fabric patterns or whatever it is and then you publicly publish those. And then you watch the community build on top of what you’ve built and remix it and remake it. One of the important aspects of open source and collaborative discovery is sort of the cycle that happens where you learn something and then you realize you can help somebody and then that spurs you to maybe learn something different or something new. Maybe in a different area you never thought you would. And one of the beauties of open source hardware is that you can’t regulate which field it’s used in. You can bring knowledge between fields with open source really easily and then you can discover something that you didn’t know before. It’s really important for citizen science to have the freedom of access that open-source brings to the table.