The Open Science Network was born, as an informal collective, in the winter of 2009 as a culmination of a number of concerns among researching students then working at the University of British Columbia. Interested in opening up and democratizing scientific research and questioning, and spurred on by the recently coined DIYbio movement, the OSN created events, accumulated equipment and had meetings to promote its ideals. The goal was to create models for democratizing science, to facilitate access to its knowledge and tools and to open it up to interdisciplinary inquiry.
As a resource hub and network for different citizen scientists/artists/researchers to find knowledge and equipment, it based itself out of a google group modelled after the principle DIYbio list. By 2010, it grew beyond UBC, added a Meetup group and over the years was involved in a variety of workshops and art-science projects, in collaboration and dialogue with projects such as x-o-x-o-x.com, the Vancouver Hackspace, and the DIYbio community more generally.
In 2014 the OSN participated at it’s first Mini Maker Faire to gauge a general sense of interest from the wider Vancouver community. The response was overwhelming. OSN also present at Microsoft Vancouver on what open science is, and what practical steps can be taken to enable oneself in these regards.
In February, 2015 approximately 60 people assembled at MakerLabs.ca to discuss the question “Is it time for Vancouver to start it’s first Community Biolab?“. At that meeting we gathered a small group of dedicated people to work towards incorporating our BC-based non-profit society – The Open Science Network Society and to work towards creating Vancouver’s first community biolab. Our small group has created a small space at MakerLabs.ca which we aim to grow as we build our membership.
The OSN uses discourse, workshops and projects to practically imagine new spaces for the democratization of knowledge. In addition to being about promoting ideas, it is about enabling pragmatic applications of those ideas, and the steps that can be taken to do that. It is a hub of experimental knowledge, and the social uses thereof.