Mac, Sophia, and the philosophy of 21st-century Biology

image from Mac has written two short but deep posts, inspired by a talk by Sophia Roosth. What inspired Mac was Sophia's "anthropological insight" that DIYbio is "domesticating" Biology.

While I don't feel that it's an explicit doctrine, domestication of Biology is indeed the spirit of what DIYbiologists are up to. It's something that arises from the curiosity, openness, and tinkering that represents the DIYbiolgist "ethic." Sophia puts it in terms of "episteme" (Knowing) and "techne" (Doing).

Biology, as a discipline, is young in many ways – "science" itself is a product of the Enlightenment. And, as a focus of understanding, Biology is old – Aristotle was a biologist.

But domesticated Biology is at the core of civilization: thousands of years ago folks were breeding animals and plants, and brewing beer, bread, yogurt, and wine. These are the heart of Genetics and Microbiology and Biochemistry.

Mac made a recording of Sophia's talk. It's brilliant and really expresses DIYbio (and synthbio) as it is today and where it can lead. It's a must-listen for anyone interested in the future of Biology.

She makes a very nice story of the mind-sets of institutional and non-institutional scientists. And she pivots around the Homebrew Computer Club analogy as a way to think of the where DIYbio is going.

In many ways, she reminds me of the talks Dana Boyd gave, back in the day, as she watched the early evolution of social networking – Sophie brings together a range of threads from different disciplines to provide some coherence and understanding of the events and thinking unfolding right in front of us. Sophie has articulated what DIYbiologist just knew, just "did," in their hearts.

I think her insights just accelerate the nucleation of the "movement" at these early stages of exploration.

Go listen to it.

Image from pusgums