Let's Write a Lab Manual

edited February 2015 in Community
Recently, the very first lab manual for synthetic biology was published by Uppsala University in Sweden.  This got me thinking: The biohacking and grinding community is relatively sel-contained, and its difficult to find the best ways to perform various mods (i.e. finger magnet implant, RFID implant, nootropics safety, etc.) 
What if we wrote a lab manual outlining how to do the things we talk about, and publish it online?  I think having a "formal" book-format instruction guide could help to solve the two problems I outlined above.


  • I second this.
  • Ok.

    can everyone please put a list of things that should be in the manual in this thread? Please send me your submissions. I'm sure cass will be happy to work on this project with me. I would love for this to happen so sorry if im just jumping right into it. if everyone needs a few more months to hem and haw about things and then forget this thread, thats ok too...

    a few things tho. everyone needs to chill on the whole punk rock n=1 ethos. We are going to have to develop standards. There needs to be an agreed upon system. The point of a manual is that there is an actual protocol that is followed. we have a huge problem with people who just want "cool stuff" and then just do whatever the frak their little hearts desire. I have been pushing for safety and repeatability the entire time i have been on this board. It's a struggle...

    I would be happy to spearhead this project tho. I have come into fair amount of free time. Please send me your suggestions. Anyone have a problem with this or does this sound ok?
  • I'd also like to help with writing/compiling if that's alright!  Completely agree with the "pushing for safety" bit.  Its tricky, dangerous stuff.  Perhaps we could find some specialized MDs to provide forewords and/or excerpts about certain materials and procedures that we reference.
  • You wont get specialized MDs writing in this book. It's basically against the law for them to be involved with this.

    on the other hand, cass has taught a lot of these things, medicine wise, and I work for a university doing bio and chem work, a significant portion of which has to do with bio compatible coatings, so there is that...

    instead, what we can do is have a very solid reference section and a very detailed protocol for things. 
  • Some things I can think of off the top of my (very medicated - screw respiratory infections) head, based on my research on magnet implantation (mainly from the medical side):
    • preparing and maintaining a sterile field and asepsis (sterile glove donning, chlorhex vs. isopropyl vs. povidone vs. etc,)
    • infection types and treatment; antibacterial practice during healing
    • wound closure - steristrips, cyanoacrylate, stitches, staples, etc.
    • wound dressings - tegaderm, gauze, pressure bandages, etc.
    • anesthesia - medically and non-medically endosed (local anesthesia and lidocaine blocks, ice water, safety and options for alternative (recreational) anesthesia (ketamine, grain alcohol, etc.)
    • when you should probably see a doctor (sepsis, heavy metal uptake, catastrophic rejection, MRSA/NF, etc)
    • what medical personnel need to know (importance of medic-alert or similar notification for emergency personnel to be aware of; how to give the most accurate medical history in the quickest and most relevant way)
    • Use this, not that (use sterile gloves, not latex examine gloves; use individually sterilized and sealed scalpels, not swappable scalpel heads that must be handled to set up; use chlorhex not alcohol swabs; etc)
    • very specific to magnet fingertip insertion: littler's diamonds, nerve locations, pulpal anatomy, etc.)
    I'll probably think of more tomorrow; I'll post them as I think of them. I think having a guide is a great idea. I'd love to help draft it - I'd be happy to write on any of the above, especially hand anatomy, nerve blocks, and wound closures & dressings.
  • Those are all definites for including in the manual, though I would be wary of including recreational anesthetics.  As for your involvement, yes that would be great!  I think we should include as many people as would like to help out (as Glims said, bumping up the references section is important).  Though we may not be able to get MDs to write anything, we can definitely get people in relevant fields to contribute; thats just as good.

    As for a list of what broad subjects there could be, here's what I've got:
    • Magnetic Implants
    • RFID/NFC Implants
    • Nootropics 
    • Biocompatible Coatings and Materials
    • Gene Mods (this can be theoretical as it isn't as common or well documented as the others)
    • Wearable/Compatible Tech (things like bottlenose or NFC smart objects)
  • putting together an outline.

  • Do you want to put it in a google doc or something so we can contribute/tweak? I think @glims is a great person to take the lead but I'd love to have it be a group effort - multiple authors; people writing what they know.
  • edited July 2014
    Actually, I was hoping for just that. This is how textbooks are often written. Everyone contributes to a section that has their particular area of knowledge. Ideally, we have more than one person contribute and we either splice them together or just take whichever one works the best.

    I would love for this to be a collaborative effort. That being said, we can't even get the wiki in order. I think if people each get a task, one small essay or instructional section, and then we have a controlled and slightly restricted edit process, that would work the best. 

    What I plan to do is set up a table of contents, post it here, and then have an open submital process via email. I'm tempted to use a real time editor like docs, but i'm also tempted to choke someone if they slog through and dont stick to editing conventions. If people want to go a more modern route than emailed in chunks, we could use Draft. However, I feel that having a restricted process will help things from spiraling out of control or just dribbling off. Also, I don't see everyone jumping into a new interface, just for this project.

    I happily welcome any thoughts about this process.

    Edit: the table of contents will be open for everyone to hash out. i can't see that getting to out of hand. link to be posted soon.
  • I would think that, given the community here, it would be unlikely that someone would take the time to submit something and not stick to conventions, as long as they're clarified. Draft could work well too; something more open and accessible than email seems like it would be good (not that I don't trust you; just would love to see what people are working on).
  • *shrugs* seems fair enough.
    here is the link to the outline.
    it is just an outline
    instructions are at the top.
    does this link work?

  • Works for me, I just requested access.
  • so, 3 adds so far. no extra edits. does this mean we're on the right track or...?
  • Check again haha. Just made a number of edits and converted it into an actual outline format, plus some structural suggestions. If I'm being overzealous or doing too much, please tell me heh.
  • Ah excellent. looks good. let's give it a few more days for people to poke at it and then let's post up a table of contents and see if anyone wants to take a topic to write about.
  • I requested access aswell, the name is Markus.
  • Just made the formatting tweaks per comments. At some point, it would be good to abandon the deletions to the Revision Control system and prune it down to only correct content we plan to write on (i.e. give comments their own page or something and erase all strikethrough text so we have a clean outline).
  • Added some edits
  • that is the plan. like i said, we're just giving it a few days so everyone can kick it around.

  • Uhm, might I suggest writing this in Markdown on github? Full VCS, Collaboration possibilities and easy to read and write whilst keeping an unified style.
  • I think that's an excellent solution - makes things simple, formatting consistent, and updating simple and trackable. The only thing is that it requires all collaborators to use and at least basically understand github, which people may not be willing or have enough time to do...
  • Excellent solution? Excenllent solution to what? What is the problem being solved by this solution?

    This is a table of contents / outline. In all honesty, it should have just been a txt file or like, written on a table napkin, except everyone is all over the planet... Keep it in your pants, code monkeys ;)  Seriously, Just get the main topics down. We don't to flesh out every single detail, let the section authors cover that and we can added or adjust afterwards.

    If we do this thing as big collaborative hypermashup party, its going to be just like everything else, all noise and no substance or progress. Just tweak the outline and then pick a section that you would like to author (that you have a background in).
  • I was saying that using markup and github allows for version control, consistent formatting across sections, ease of suggestions to be accepted from other contributors, and easy viewing of everyone's progress - not for the outline, but for the actual section contributions.

    How were you envisioning people to be able to write and submit sections so that others can see review, tweak, etc?
  • See, this is where it starts to break down, as far as crowdwriting the sections go. The outline, of course, makes sense. One person could probably not think of everything that we would want covered. Having a group contribute to that is a good idea.
    Once the sections get started tho, that's different.  A person would pick a section that they are versed in and write it. Let's say you write magnet implantation. That is then sent to another person who knows a lot about that thing, like Cass. Then we send it to a person that has done just grammar editing in a professional capacity, who fixes run ons and whatnot and doesnt adjust the actual information at all. Then we are done with that section. There is almost no net positive that I can see from having a dozen people fiddle with things for weeks? Everyone needs to focus on their part so that they can do the best possible. Do you imagine in that scenario that between the author, the editing author, and the editor, that they are going to miss anything? We try to have a wiki and it's a mess. This is a different type of project, I would hope.
  • Ok - I understand that; that seems like a good flow.
  • Cool, so I figure let's give it 24 hrs and then i'm stripping it down and posting a TOC here.

  • I just requested access, as recommended in the other thread - e-mail is '[email protected]' (don't judge it's old lol). I think this is a great project btw!
  • I have stripped everything out of the outline and put it into a table of contents format. I know everyone is in different time zones, so umm 12 hrs from now, anyone who wants to tweak this format should do it. Then we're setting it in stone and moving forward.
  • Looks good to me.
  • Hi Everyone. Here is that finalish TOC for the manual. names are of course, very subject to change. Would anyone like to select a section that they would like to work on? Amal already took the RFID section, of course. Everyone else, please choose a section that pertains to an area that you have a strong background in (if possible).




    What is grinding and why bother

    What should you known before you do anything else

    The scientific method

    The Basics

    Aseptic technique

    Biocompatible coatings and materials

    How to experiment on yourself without ending up dying

    Your Body

    First Aid for the experimentally inclined

    Food, diet, exercise, and sleep







    Conclusion/Discussion/What the future may hold


    Supplies and tools

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