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 On the difference between Biopunk and DIYbio 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
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Location: Sweden
Post On the difference between Biopunk and DIYbio
DIYbio is a Do It Yourself culture while Biopunk is a hacker culture. The objective in the DIY culture is to – as far as possible – manufacture something yourself.

Hacker culture doesn't really care about who built what. There is no rule that says a computer-hacker must build the computer or software he/she uses. The hackers interest is in understanding systems and manipulating them. The “hands-on imperative” in the hacker ethic states that the hacker has the right to open up and manipulate that what falls into the hackers hands regardless of who the original builder was.

The difference between Biopunk and DIYbio can be illustrated by their views on DNA-sequencing:

To a DIY:er it's important to run it in the gelbox he/she built him/herself, this is what DIY is all about.

A Biopunk can send his/her yield to be sequenced by bigcorp, buy a used sequencer(hack it) or have his/her undergraduate/corporate friend run it. The biopunk can chose to build an own gelbox, but this adds no extra value. In fact, the biopunk is likely to find using an own box primitive and annoying.

Hacker culture and DIY culture have touch-points but they are separate philosophies with different interests and goals. Something worth remembering in regards to DIYbio.

-Splicer

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Sun May 16, 2010 11:51 pm
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Joined: Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:09 pm
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Post Re: On the difference between Biopunk and DIYbio
Hi Splicer,
Can't say I agree with this assessment, I'm afraid! My reasons why are similar to those you outlined when you suggested compartmentalisation to avoid confusion; there's a level at which unnecessary division only causes confusion and hinders collaboration.

By this I mean that, in my experience, there are many people in the DIYbio community who are "in it for the wetware", rather than obsessively making their own equipment and sequencing things using only their own tools. Just as I imagine there will be Biopunks who insist on using their own tools and equipment simply because they want to know they've done the job well.

One reason why there is such an obvious focus on DIY equipment in DIYbio at present is simply because it's virtually impossible to get decent new equipment any other way, without compromising on quality or paying through the teeth. Standard equipment is too expensive or unavailable to individuals.

Likewise, the services that we provide for ourselves or others in the community, we do because we have little alternative in a field where sequencing may not be available to individuals. It's not that we insist on doing it ourselves (although some might), it's because we have to.

This might change soon and people that under your classification would be strictly "DIYers" will very suddenly become "Biopunks" as they start using outsourcing, borrowing and sharing much more than before. But I would suggest that they were always in the same category, and simply divided by their means.

I'm excited to see another major forum on what I would see as DIYbio and Biopunk online, and I hope to keep calling back! Forgive me if my assessment doesn't suit you. :)


Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:17 pm
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Re: On the difference between Biopunk and DIYbio
Hi Cathal

Good to see you. I think we understand each other well. A few comments from my biopunk perspective:

cathalgarvey wrote:
Can't say I agree with this assessment, I'm afraid! My reasons why are similar to those you outlined when you suggested compartmentalisation to avoid confusion; there's a level at which unnecessary division only causes confusion and hinders collaboration.
I hear the ”Don't rock the boat” comment often. It's usually the first reaction from most people who have heard of DIYbio when they learn it's not hacker culture and that the difference actually means something. Different perspectives are good. There is no reason for confusion or lack of collaboration. If DIYbio was the be all and end all of personal biohacking then this community would be a very small pond.

cathalgarvey wrote:
By this I mean that, in my experience, there are many people in the DIYbio community who are "in it for the wetware", rather than obsessively making their own equipment and sequencing things using only their own tools. Just as I imagine there will be Biopunks who insist on using their own tools and equipment simply because they want to know they've done the job well.
Yes, but the focus in a DIY community is still on making your own tools as opposed to hacking your environment. I'm not saying the biopunk never builds her own tools, I'm saying it doesn't matter to her whether she does or not. The tools are a means to an end. What matters is the hack, the actual manipulation.

cathalgarvey wrote:
Likewise, the services that we provide for ourselves or others in the community, we do because we have little alternative in a field where sequencing may not be available to individuals. It's not that we insist on doing it ourselves (although some might), it's because we have to.
Commercial sequencing is not expensive or restricted (why would it be?). It costs less than $5 for 400bp excluding primers. The reason for the diy gel box is primarily that it is the sort of thing makers/diyers do. The scarcity mentality is part of the DIY paradigm.

cathalgarvey wrote:
This might change soon and people that under your classification would be strictly "DIYers" will very suddenly become "Biopunks" as they start using outsourcing, borrowing and sharing much more than before. But I would suggest that they were always in the same category, and simply divided by their means.
I see the trend going in that direction too. And yes they are largely the same category with different means, but I find the hacker paradigm more useful than the maker/DIY paradigm. Should I wait until the maker/DIY paradigm is obsolete for biohacking before I voice that?

cathalgarvey wrote:
I'm excited to see another major forum on what I would see as DIYbio and Biopunk online, and I hope to keep calling back! Forgive me if my assessment doesn't suit you. :)

I forgive you ;)

-Splicer

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- Raoul Duke


Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:28 am
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Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:08 am
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Post Re: On the difference between Biopunk and DIYbio
Quote:
Commercial sequencing is not expensive or restricted (why would it be?). It costs less than $5 for 400bp excluding primers.


Where is that sequencing from??? I am very interested to find out where you got that estimate from for sequencing, as most of the company's that I have contacted give a standard estimate of $0.39/bp, which works out to a lot more than $5 for 400 bp.


Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:02 am
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