This documentary concerns the Maker Movement, Massino Banzi and the Arduino. Banzi created the Arduino in 2003. The latter is an Open Source one chip computer control device that allows ordinary people to create their own electronic devices without training in electronics or engineering. People have used them to create their own Open Source 3D printers, drones, smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.
The Arduino has played a pivotal role in the Maker Movement, a campaign to end monopoly control over the electronics industry. If you allow corporations to control all the electronic devices and services you use, you allow them to control your choices.
Safecast, the international Citizen Science movement that installed tiny Geiger counters across Japan in 2011 used Arduinos to build them.
Among the reforms Corbett notes are growing pressure by scientific journals for researchers to publish raw data and negative results and the formation of an entity known as Redaction Watch. The latter closely monitors studies that are retracted for fraudulent data or questionable methodology.
However the most important solutions, in Corbett’s view, are the Open Science and Citizen Science movement. The former campaigns for free public access to scientific research, which until a decade ago was locked away behind costly paywalls.*
The most well known Open Science activist was Aaron Swartz, who published the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto in 2008. The FBI arrested Swartz in 2011 for using an MIT server to upload thousands of academic papers to a free Internet site. His legal problems allegedly prompted Swartz to kill himself two weeks before he went to trial. However numerous factors suggest he may have been “suicided” (see The Mystery of Aaron Swartz’s Alleged Suicide).
Like Swartz, Corbett argues that allowing freer public access to scientific research allows the public to monitor what scientists are up to. The Open Science movement has led to a substantial increase in research available for free on the Open Source PLOS (Public Library of Science).
Citizen Science refers to the growing participation of amateur scientists in the collection, storage and, in some case, analysis, of scientific data. Examples include projects in which scientists use citizens to collect migration data on butterflies and songbirds.
In another model, ordinary citizens set up their own projects to solve specific problems. The best example is Safecast, created by anti-nuclear activists when it became clear the Japanese government was lying about radiation levels resulting from the Fukushima meltdowns. In this project, a network of activists created an automated Geiger counter to collect radiation counts every five seconds and upload them to an online database. They then recruited thousands of Japanese volunteers to attach them to their cars and bikes (see The Citizen Science Movement).
*Revenues resulting from scientific journal subscriptions accrue mainly to for profit publishers (like Elsevier) rather than researchers who write scientific papers.
Interview with Sean Bonner, citizen scientist and founder of Safecast, a lay nuclear radiation monitoring group founded a week after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima.
Bonner started Safecast when the Japanese government failed to disseminate adequate information about radiation levels following the Fukushima diasaster. Using mobile radiation detectors mounted to vehicles, Bonner and his volunteers produced complete radiation maps of northern Japan that forced the government to release data they were trying to cover up and alter they evacuation zones.Since then, volunteers have joined from all over the world are are helping to map radiation levels on the West Coast.
All the information on Bonner’s website (http://blog.safecast.org/), which includes detailed instructions on building radiation detectors, is totally Open Source. In the age of corruption and cover-up, Bonner feels it’s absolutely essential that citizens develop the ability to produce their own science – instead of relying on government and academic experts.
Bonner also comments on the related topic of Internet freedom and the danger of political movements relying on private companies, such as Facebook, for information sharing.