Research Talk by Dr. Denisa Kera

Disruptive Prototypes and Grassroots Innovation in Southeast Asia


Date and Time: Wed, 17 October, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Venue: CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, NUS

Google Map:


About the talk

You do not need to visit NASA or travel to Mars to experience future community resilient to extreme conditions. Group of artists, scientists, and farmers in Indonesia are setting up such unique experimental community around the Merapi volcano in Java. What is the connection between a hacked satellite, hay waste, pound of fish, farm, and one bioreactor? The Micro/Macronation project from Yogyakarta is a test of sustainable, future community, which will connect ethanol reactor fermenting waste with an auqaponic system on a farm, and intensively gather data on this experiment. These grassroots innovators already hacked environmental data from an Indonesian government satellite to define a precedence and cases for open government data project. The plan is to connect the hacked satellite data with what comes out of the two experimental villages  and define future scenario for Indonesia which is stet to be presented  in their parliament in 2013. Citizen Science initiatives and projects, such as Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) in Singapore, and HONF in Yogyakarta, and Manila Biopunk Movement, novel forms of co-working spaces and labs in the region, such as Hackerspaces, Maker communities and Fablabs, all present an alternative approach to innovation and research in biotechnology outside of the official academia and industry walls. These DIYbio activities are inspired by the Open Source Software and Hardware movements, which are becoming increasingly influential political forces organized around the changing notion of how to produce and share data, information, and knowledge. Furthermore, they define policy as an iteration and design process involving prototypes and collective experiments rather than deliberation supporting the classical division between executive and normative powers. We will discuss and compare case studies from Singapore and Indonesia to demonstrate our main thesis, that the emerging culture of DIYbio, defined broadly as The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) approaches in citizen science, brings a revival of traditional, indigenous approaches to knowledge but also opens an opportunity for grassroots innovation and can serve as a model for public participation in science.  The emergent, alternative R&D centers revive a link between knowledge creation and community building and problematize the common, “East – West”, “Modern (Industrial) – Post-industrial – Pre-modern (indigenous)” distinctions, which are often used when knowledge transfer is discussed. By integrating community building with prototype testing, DIYbio and Hackerspaces in the region enable community-based innovation and provide a more resilient policy model for societies facing emerging technologies and various environmental and social challenges.


About the speaker

Dr. Denisa Kera is a philosopher and a designer, who builds design prototypes and critical probes to create tools for deliberation, reflection, and public participation in science. She follows and studies science community labs, alternative R&D places (Hackerspaces, FabLabs) and various DIYbio movements around the world as a philosopher of science and STS scholar. In them she sees a revival of tinkering and 16.century pre-modern science. She enjoys writing about these complex genealogies and original ideas of Academy of sciences, alchemy etc. as much as she enjoys working in these communities on various challenging ideas about future technologies (neuronetworking, food hacking, citizen science using DNA data). She has extensive and global experience as a curator of exhibitions and projects related to art, technology and science, and previous career in internet start-ups and journalism.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed