towards a post-scarcity society

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Hackspace Research Update

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Since 2007 there has been a radical growth in the application and reach of hacker culture. No longer limited to the computer underground, principles of the hacker ethic now pervade contemporary corporate software development and the backbone one of the world’s largest economic infrastucture, the internet. This comes as no surprise because many experts and leading professionals in the field of computer science are also leaders of the hacker subculture. What is surprising is how the beliefs and values of the hacker subculture are being appropriated and applied in fields wholely distinct from computer science including biology, manufacturing, and community development.

Frustrated by the forking of public domain germplasm by corporate interests, scientists extended a free software license, the GNU Public License (GPL), to cover material transfer agreements of plant germplasm, called the General Public License for Plant Germplasm (Hope, 2008). Looking for a way to create a commons-based peer production model for the design and manufacture of machines, small businesses, design and engineering professionals, and academics joined forces with Creative Commons to adapt the Open Source Definition for Open Source Software to an Open Source Hardware Definition as the basis of a new licensing mechanism (OSHW, 2010). Wanting to create spaces where people can come together to share their passion for technology and science, hackers worldwide opened up more than 220 community centers known as hackspaces or hackerspaces from 2007 to 2010. These three examples demonstrate that hacker culture is in the process of making a dramatic expansion from cyberspace into our physical environment.

My current research paper explores how the hacker ethic, a set of fluctuating and negotiated principles that underpins the behavior of the hacker subculture, is becoming substantiated. In particular, it surveys the emerging hackspace movement to better understand how the hacker ethic informs physical organizational culture and is changed by its application from virtual communities to physical organizations.

//// Hope, Janet. 2008. Biobazaar: The Open Source Revolution and Biotechnology. Harvard University Press.

//// 2010. Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Draft Definition version 0.3. Freedom Defined. Accessed 7/16/2010.


Marshall Forest Preserve & Soil Proteomics

In Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 6:43 pm

a cricket on an Amanita caesarea

Ryan, Nicole and I went on a trip to the Marshall Forest Preserve near Rome, GA. Lots of good mushrooms were growing. Next time we’ll attempt to bring them into sterile culture. This will allow us to cultivate and study a greater variety of mushrooms that there is available commercial mushroom spawn.

any ideas what this is? it smells beautiful

Both Ryan and I are interested in soil proteomics. Soil microbial communities are incredibly complex. They create habitats suitable for different plants and greatly effect growth and nutrition. Soil proteomics combines traditional approaches in soil microbiology and biochemistry with techniques in molecular microbial ecology. Soil proteomics is the study of the structures and functions of proteins in the metabolic pathways of soil. This is much more difficult than genomics because a cells proteins, or the cells proteome, changes over time and between cells. Soil proteomics are important because it can help us understand what cell pathways give rise to enzymes important in ecosystem processes. In turn, this knowledge could be used to engineer soils that can better bioremediate specific toxins like arsenic and petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Perhaps the nature preserve will allow us to set up a soil research station here? 🙂

a yeast proteome visualized using 2d gel electrophoresis which seperates proteins by isoelectric point and molecular weight, proteins were identified from reference maps

US Food Bill, SB510, Threatens Local Food Sovereignty

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Make small local producers of food criminals and deregulate the industrial food system. Make seed savers the source of contamination and deregulate the GM seed industry. Senate Bill 510 threatens local food sovereignty by putting all farms and food under the administration of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. For more information see this short analysis (take it with a grain of salt, it’s convenient for me to post this because it has a bunch of good links). For a quick introduction to how these laws affect people around the world listen to this short video from Vandana Shiva:

Transition Tech: Wood-Fired Automobile

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I live in Atlanta and our city was built around the automobile. Transportation is arguably the most oppressive aspect of our city’s infrastructure. Transitioning towards a post-scarcity carbon neutral city is very difficult for us and transitional technologies are needed to solve some of our unique problems.

Atlanta is known as the city in a forest; we have a lot of yellow pine here in Georgia, and Atlanta, although deforestation is a major issue, is no different.

Wood Fired Wood Car

Wood Fired Wood Car, Romania, 2007

Check out Joost Conijn’s wood fired wood car! Over a million wood-gas fired automobiles and tractors were used back during the world wars in Europe. As our local infrastructure is shocked by energy price fluctuations running automobiles and heavy machinery in Atlanta off of wood and grease can provide us a more resilient alternative.

Out in California a collective is working on an open sourced wood gasifier called the Gasifier Experimenters Kit (openGEK). They’ve already released several versions and are providing resources to those who want to do further research and development. This could be used to run back-up generators off of the worlds most sustainable and appropriate solar battery- wood and to run mechanized machinery like open source compressed earth block presses, open tractors and community buses.

Open GEK Gasifier

Open GEK Gasifier