[hackerspaces] hacklabs.org

Yves Quemener quemener.yves at free.fr
Sat Apr 25 12:35:40 CEST 2009

Hi Jaromil,

This is an observation I think a lot of people in hackerspaces made
recently. By listing themselves on websites like hackerspaces.org, these
places abandon their "off the charts" property. I think this is a choice
that must be consciously made. I don't think that this is necessarily a bad
thing. I remember talking with someone at the CCC Berlin who explained to
me that they managed to get a real recognition (including by government
officials who get their opinions on subjects such as privacy (even if they
often dismiss it afterwards)) but at the cost of being frowned upon by more
"hardcore underground" places. But they acknowledge and know each other. I
think it is an ecosystem where both niches need to exist.

I'm not sure I am fearing the fact that hacking is becoming more and more
mainstream. For too long people have equated hackers with "bad people who
will steal your credit card number". Making it more popular will
necessarily change it, maybe in ways we do not like, but I think that if
the comparison with music holds, what will happen is that we will have a
lot of imitating bands, some successful, some not, but the core founding
bands will still exist, maybe in better shape than before, maybe in a worse
one but probably not very different to what they would have become, had the
movement not gone mainstream. And I suspect that the world could become a
better place if most people get a part of the hacker spirit.

I am not sure about what you mean when you are talking about hackerspaces
that could become after-work recreational circles and how it is
incompatible with being a urban laboratory full of imagination. Maybe that
is because I currently am in a after-work mode.

It is interesting to talk about the motivations of the various people
involved in these places. I thought that the federating character was a
playful and curious attitude toward most problems, often technical,
sometimes social. Rejecting authority and imposed solutions seems to be a
fairly common trait too, probably spanning from the first. Maybe not every
hacker calls himself an anarchist, but there often is this need to be
self-sufficient, to not rely on someone else for some things, especially
knowledge. What else could we find as a unifying trait ?


jaromil wrote:
> hi Steve,
> thanks for your comments & alchemy to solidify the bubble.
> i'm on our side of course, but still spotting a clear vulnerability in
> the unilateral method characterising the narratives we are producing.
> the hacker's  movement will be very  powerful only when  able to cross
> individual  and  localised  interests, national  identities,  cultural
> differences, prejudices and more  boundaries (even the screen!). until
> then,  we'll be  an easy  target for  manipulations (both  locally and
> globally)  as  it  has   been  for  other  popular  movements,  namely
> rastafarian, hip-hop,  punk, grunge, etc.   (you name it, i  mean your
> pet pop/sub/culture that you genuinely  know and that has somehow gone
> wrong...)
> the solution is to keep track of history and differences in a rigorous
> and objective  way: whenever  we move forward  to represent  the whole
> this should be  the price to pay, if we don't  want banalities to take
> over our heterogeneous identities.
> the process  we are going through  is the one  of representing hacking
> cultures:  movements that  are  highly critical  to established  power
> structures, in  some instances  even rebellious to  them, in  any case
> constructive and faithful in a globally networked intelligence.
> i think  representing hacker  cultures is a  very good effort  and i'm
> sure it will make our societies better: fostering confrontation rather
> than fear, creating uncommon ground for constructive criticism, on all
> kind of imaginary levels.
> still now the  risk at stake is that  "hackerspaces" become after-work
> recreational circles, rather than urban laboratories of collective and
> liberated imagination.
> anyway... please take the reflections  above just as an early pen-test
> for our concepts and methodology.
> ciao
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