DIY vs DITO (Do it Yourself vs Do it Together)


We seek collaboration: we work better when we work together

We seek inclusivity: our work is better when we draw people together

We seek community: we work better when we consider how we came together

We seek understanding: we work better when we consider why we came together.

We seek knowledge: our work is better when we draw our collective knowledge together



DIY Highly Virulent Pathogens

Background: As the tools and methods of biology become more readily available, the Do-it-yourself (DIY) biology community has come under scrutiny as a potential breeding ground for nefarious uses of biotechnology.

Invasive Population Management

Background: In 2016 the New Zealand government introduced Predator Free 2050, a project to eliminate all non-native predators (such as rats, possums and stoats) by 2050. Non-native predators have been harmful to native flora and fauna of New Zealand, especially conserved bird species.



I am helping organize the Global Community Biosummit at the Media Lab this October 26-28. This conference brings together people involved in the DIYBio/biomakerspace movement together with people from independent and community biology labs. Last year, I attended as a participant from a community lab and this year have a more active role as an organizer.


The three key features of the programming that I feel strongly committed to are the unconference session, the workshops, and the exhibition space. The unconference sessions are informal discussion sessions that are proposed by the convened. The workshops are practical, skills-based sessions where knowledge is disseminated. The exhibition space is available to show works of hardware and art.


My practice as a scientist is deeply connected to the idea of bringing people together to solve problems. As a part of the Sculpting Evolution group, one of our biggest tasks is making science, as a whole, more open and responsive to the communities it affects. For the Biosummit, we are developing an unconference session to talk about the ethics of responsive science in the context of citizen science/DIY spaces. We are also sharing our methods by hosting a Wet Lab workshop on the methods we use to sculpt evolution. Personally, I have been involved in curating and organizing the works that will be displayed in the exhibit space. Interfacing with the community in these ways is how I live within my values.

2 thoughts on “DIY vs DITO (Do it Yourself vs Do it Together)

  1. Really great ideas! The value I found particularly powerful was the one asking for us to consider why we came together. It is uncommon for teams to reflect on the reasoning behind them being together and just the action itself can lead to very interesting realizations.
    I think adding something around the required ethics to do this type of work and emphasize the importance of embracing the great responsibility that comes with it would be nice.

    I know very little about this particular topic but can help facilitating discussions, mobilizing people, writing about the experience or just serving as guinea pig for testing activities. Definitely, I’d love to learn more.

  2. A. “We seek community” Tech-science fields often lack personal or cultural awareness. People are focused on the quality and quantity of research to examine what happens between people conducting the research. However, the relationships between researchers and within the community greatly affect the culture of research and consequently the method and even results of research endeavors, and much can be done on a personal level to influence the community. This value is interesting and important in encouraging grassroots action to build a conscious, non-stagnant research culture.

    B. Constructive contribution. Individuals are the fundamental component of a community, and the community is not exclusive to but is greatly influenced by what each individual decides to bring to the table. In this regard, it is important for each person to think about what constructive offerings they can make to the community to shape the culture.

    C. Unconference and workshop sessions that encourage communication and exchange of skills and values does seem critical in promoting the values. Just as a thought, it would be interesting to see a town-hall discussion of this specific topic of DIY vs DITO for direct self-assessment and socio-cultural awareness as a community.

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