I’ve been spending the last month organizing a symposium at UCLA called “Outlaw Biology” on public participation in the life sciences. There is much to say here about organizing a mini conference (on which see the recent post by G. Downey that Jay directed us to ), especially one that involves an active participatory component, especially when that involves doing biological experiments of some sort. The whole goal of this symposium was to draw attention to the ways public participation is changing what the life sciences are (whether that means DIY Bio, recreational ancestry genetics, patient advocacy, or ‘open source science’). But what I wanted to draw SM reader’s attention to is the strange way that “public participation” is changing too. Publics are being “organization-ified” in new ways. The easier it becomes to constitute new affinity groups, the more difficult it becomes to be an unaffiliated member of the public. I blame FB and Twitter. But I’m a curmudgeon. Regardless… I’ve written an essay about it and am curious what people think.