From Aye to Si

Thursday, December 18, 2014

To change the culture of science and education we have to encourage risk taking, experimentation, questioning conventional wisdom, unorthodox methods—we have to learn to say “yes” in many domains, in many languages. For this, we need to create participatory governance structures such as deliberative democracy1 and radical inclusion2 that lie at the heart of such extra-cultural experiments as they allow innovation at the pace of technological and sociocultural acceptance instead of the considerably slower pace of institutional or legal reform.

We need to look outside the established culture as well as create local agents of change from within.

Hacker/maker spaces can become the social and hands-on hubs of communities acting as both a drop-in shelter, getaway, sanctuary and creative fraternity. Sharing and working in the open are the basic modalities of such spaces engendering a naturally open ethic.

Citizen science projects engage citizens all the way from making them aware of relevant data and its science to data collection, analysis, reporting and even policy setting pushing bottom-up change.

Such activities are possible without requiring traditional degrees and certification, birthing informal academies where learning and proving-by-doing is equally as important as learning theory and getting a certificate from the academy.

Low cost sensor-based hardware kits can be developed, designed and assembled by self-trained citizen hackers providing a means for globally distributed collection of localized data sets with high temporal and spatial scales.

Bringing arts, science and engineering together under one roof to expand the cognitive bandwidth for understanding scientific data and having the agency to act on it in an open lab setting that breaks the barriers between formal and informal learning.

Peer recognition comes from helping each other, by contributing to both the operations as well as its governance, and by necessarily using alternative metrics and currencies to measure one’s contribution to peer production, and trade those credits for advancement and other rewards.

  1. Deliberative Democracy is a term used by EngageUC, a University of California consortium on biobanking, to describe a collaboration between researchers, health care providers, UC leaders and community members (PDF).
  2. Radical Inclusion is popularized by the founders of and participants in Burning Man to imply that the event is for everyone, absolutely everyone, irrespective of their backgrounds. It was also used by Amy Shimshon-Santo in a personal correspondence to connote diverse leadership, trans-disciplinary collaboration and sharing, and doing more to open source our institutions.