"Why are you selling microbes?"
As we approach the end of the second BioHack Academy, the excitement to see the outcome of the participants' projects is growing steadily. The incubated microbes are dressing up for their upcoming finale, the Arduino boards have their final soldering touches, and the microscopes will be on fire!
Having the chance to see the final four weeks of the 10-week long BioHack Academy 2—as well as one Dutch Design Week, one PetShop Museum Night, one o.DUDE project presentation, one Border Sessions, and several other lectures—I believe that I am only at the beginning of understanding the things to come out of DIY biotechnology.
The biotech revolution is already happening. For those who, like me, didn't know about it, the day that your own bacteria culture sits next to the milk carton inside your fridge, or that you have your regular health check-up at home, is not that far away. No matter how sceptical one is about it, biotechnology has become more open and accessible to everyone interested than ever before. From microscopes to centrifuges, spectrometers, and hacked home printers for molecular diagnostics—everything can be self-fabricated because open source designs are only an online search away.
So the most frequently asked question during our Pet shop at Museum Night and DDW 2015, "Why are you selling microbes?" (or for the more direct – "Are you guys crazy?, Selling bacteria? Really?"), will be answered during the Academy's final presentations. Waag's vision of making biochemistry open to everyone—meaning to people with little or no knowledge at all about this topic—is partially realised by these participants who were 'incubated' over the past 10 weeks and developed individual projects from scratch. They learned about biotech, bioart, open source lab devices, and (more importantly) about the philosophy of hacking and sharing.
Let the students, then, of the second BioHack Academy answer you with their projects on why why we are growing, selling, and petting microbes on November 17th, during their graduation event! We are expecting you all, especially the doubters!