Cultivating Open Science on Web3 in Kernel Block III

Cultivating Open Science on Web3

It’s been three months since the Opscientia team first came together in May 2021 for Kernel Block III, where we honed our vision for a community-owned public commons of scientific discovery. Last month, the team was featured at the Kernel Showcase as one of the top 16 projects out of 125! As we transition to the next stage of our adventure, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on our journey thus far, and the important

What is Kernel?

Kernel is a curated community of people working in the blockchain space. Each “Block” (cohort) provides a unique learning experience for around 250 individuals over the course of 8 weeks. And when we say “unique,” we truly mean it.

The weekly lessons (available here open source for all) are designed to be both personal and technical. The weekly reading — centred around the most important and challenging themes relevant to blockchain — seamlessly blend history, philosophy, and science with poetry and games (to name but a few).

Each weekly fireside and virtual meet-up is a joyous opportunity for learning and connection with a diverse set of like-minded individuals from all over the world. People who participate in Kernel choose an “Adventure,” or project, for their 8-week journey. For our team, this was Opscientia.

Team Opscientia

Having never met before, we took time to learn a bit about each other before Kernel kicked off. We started with a team-building quiz which included questions such as “What was your immediate gut reaction to lockdown?” and a personality profile. We excitedly chatted over our Discord and sketched initial ideas on Figma. These ranged from practical to, err, somewhat blue-sky (e.g. “we’re preparing the world’s Neuroscience data for general AI”).

Our Kernel team of seven are a passionate and creative bunch from across the world. Here’s a pop-band style run through of our key stats:

Places of birth: Egypt, Hong Kong, UK, India, USA

Previous employers: Georgetown University, University of Maryland, JP Morgan, University College London, King’s College London

Fun facts:

  • One of us has had their brain cloned (now existing as many “cerebral organoids” in a lab)
  • One of us owns the first personal brain image dataset tokenized on Ethereum
  • One of us can fly glider planes

And check out our word cloud for a snapshot of the various weird and wonderful qualifications between us!

Architecting a Decentralized Science Organization

To make the most of our collective Kernel experience, team members each chose different Tracks to follow. Tracks are additional lessons and talks taking place throughout Kernel on specific blockchain topics, including security, culture, DeFi, gaming, and token communities.

Alongside Kernel, our team also participated in a couple of external hackathons to further develop and inform our solution — including ETHGlobal’s Web3Weekend, DoraHacks Hack FS, and OHBM’s BrainHack, where we carried out user research with the neuroscience community. Needless to say, it was a very busy but very productive couple of months for our team! Take a look at our word cloud below of how we described our Kernel experience.

Reflections on Growth

We each grew both personally and professionally through Kernel. From further developing what are often misunderstood as basic skills related to listening and questioning, to more complex reasoning and problem-solving.

Additionally, we each developed a deeper understanding of concepts such as value, freedom, expression, creativity, and play. We have learnt the importance of acting purposefully, with clear intentions, which as a team we will embrace as we continue to develop our “Adventure Opscientia” solution.

A further key concept we intend to incorporate into Opscientia’s open science vision is that of designing systems for continued co-creation. We believe that the continued play of co-creation is paramount to a healthy ecosystem of open and collaborative scientific knowledge generation.

Nurturing a Community

Although open science is far from new, decentralised science (DeSci) is a truly emerging field; catalysed by advancements in Web3. It was an honour to find amongst our Kernel cohort, and the previous Block 2 cohort, fellow DeSci advocates and entrepreneurs Bianca Trovò and Matt Stephenson (of Ants Review and P1anck, respectively).

In the spirit of Kernel, together we have formed an ongoing junto around Web3 science (“#jam-science”)! We’re looking forward to growing this group to ideate around modernising and democratising current scientific discovery ecosystems with Web3 tools.

We also connected with Philosophers and Ethicists amongst the community for input on our “Purple Paper”, which we drafted over the course of Kernel— this is an ethical manifesto that is intended as a counterpart to the traditional white paper. We’re looking forward to inviting the community to co-create this document. You can dive deeper into our thoughts on this by taking a peek at our neuroethics-themed article, “Not My Keys, Not My Thoughts.”

Extending the Scope of Public Goods in Web3

Throughout Kernel we also explored crossovers with other fields. We feel it’s vital for us to understand and collaborate with other kinds of “public goods” use cases (for example, arts funding or digital inclusion for vulnerable populations) to cross-pollinate ideas and diversity of thought.

Together, more public good can be achieved by taking ourselves out of our mental silos of “scientist,” “artist,” or anything else where creators rely on a welfare model, despite their work generating huge profits down the line (e.g. the contribution of artists to culture, boosting property prices and tourism, or scientists paying to publish their work in journals, generating for them enormous profit margins).

We encourage DAO grant programs, such as Uniswap, Aave, Ocean, and other programs in the space, to consider how Web3 can evolve over time to become a universal portal for programming self-sustaining public goods. The demonstration of self-sustaining, autonomous, public good services would be a very powerful example that could inspire voters, organizations, and governments to reconsider how we think about the relationship between civics and economic models.

The Web3 Sustainability Loop is an excellent starting point for how to evaluate proposals on the merit of self-sustainability. However, the Web3 community will need to harness their imagination to manifest a flourishing commons that extends beyond DeFi and tokenized static images.

Manifesting the Future

The 8 weeks of Kernel culminated in an Expo where we heard about all the exciting work from across the cohort and also got the chance to share our vision for open science with the Web3 community!

Team Opsci will be building on the strong foundation of teamwork, compassion, and shared vision for a metaverse of science that was honed during Kernel Block III. We’re starting with establishing templates of best practices with our decentralized science stack and answering core questions for research data management in collaboration with Textile, Filecoin, MIT, and Dartmouth.

We are also super excited to establish our headquarters in Barcelona this summer, where you’ll find us planning the next phase of an open, inclusive web of science over tapas, vermouth, and in between siestas.

Visit us at opsci.io/join where you can subscribe to our newsletter, register for our DAO Halls, and sign up to participate in our research!

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