GOSH Community Events Framework

Source: Gathering for Open Science Hardware

By Shannon Dosemagen and Jenny Molloy

It’s now been three years since the Gathering for Open Science Hardware (GOSH) community has been able to come together in person and the world has been changed by the global pandemic in ways we’ve yet to fully understand. During this time, and as we look forward to a global Gathering taking place in 2022, previous GOSH event and session organizers were finally able to accomplish a long-time community goal — to reflect on and document the community events framework that we have collaboratively developed over the years.

The goal of drafting this framework isn’t to be formulaic or prescriptive, but to pass hard-earned knowledge and experience about the organization and leadership of GOSH events to the next generation of organizers. The document provides a detailed account of steps and processes, timelines and budget that helped us previously create the GOSH global events.

A lot of the elements baked into previous events have worked really well for the GOSH community but they have changed each year — depending on who is organizing, where the event is located and always incorporating new approaches and ideas from participants. For example, regional and topical GOSH events have taken pieces of the model while also incorporating their own flavors. So flip closer to the end of the framework and you’ll find a section that is an almost hidden gem — 23 community members share history, ideas, tips and advice for building a GOSH event, session or expansion of the community into their own space.

Building up to the GOSH community events framework

When a group interested in open hardware in science came together in 2015 to begin planning the first Gathering for Open Science Hardware, held in 2016 at CERN’s IdeaSquare, we each brought different experiences and unique vantage points on what makes events really come together. The 2016 gathering was about figuring out who was participating in the open science hardware space and finding others who might be looking for the community that we as organizers hoped GOSH could convene. GOSH 2016 gave us the chance to mix some common conference elements, such as short presentations and talks, with some uncommon elements, like cooking together in the IdeaSquare kitchen, holding electronic music performances with repurposed equipment, and taking advantage of the unique set up of IdeaSquare (check out images of the red double decker bus) to have impromptu sessions which resulted in the GOSH manifesto, ideas for “where next” for open science hardware, and collaborations that exist to this day. Each year GOSH was held, new elements were added but we tried to maintain the creative, productive and familial environment that was achieved in 2016.

The GOSH 2017 organizers took a hard look at demographics and representation in GOSH, setting goals that we could continuously reach for as a community to ensure a diversity of perspectives were present at each gathering. Together we brainstormed and wrote a roadmap for making open hardware for science ubiquitous by 2025. Hosted in Santiago, Chile, GOSH 2017 also laid part of the foundation for community members to come together in Latin America and start reGOSH, while at the same time connecting attendees from Africa who went on to create AfricaOSH.

And so we continued into the 2018 event in Shenzhen, China which was heavily oversubscribed and demonstrated that the community was growing and more people were starting to identify GOSH as a home base to connect with others working on open scientific hardware. The incredible efforts of the local organizers in Shenzhen also amplified the credibility and reach of GOSH as members of the community were invited to attend and speak at events centering around Shenzhen MakerFaire.

The GOSH community events framework builds on all of this experience to help future organizers.

What next?

We view this as a living document. Inevitably, as the event develops in future years, organizers and attendees will identify structures that work better, tips for smoothing logistical processes and ways to increase the number of people that benefit from having a landing place like GOSH for moving their work forward. We’ll keep this thread on the GOSH forum as the holding place for future edits and encourage comments in this Google doc (which is a replica of the model documentation minus GOSH profiles).

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 2021 session that brought this model documentation together, but especially to the many people that made GOSH events the success they have been over the years. GOSH is a unique reflection of our diverse, global, multidisciplinary community working together and we’re excited to see where the next Gatherings take us as we work to make open science hardware ubiquitous by 2025.