[hackerspaces] Hacking the Spaces: A critical acclaim of what was, is and could be a hackerspace (or hacklab, for that matter)

Dave Null noid23 at gmail.com
Mon May 11 20:07:50 CEST 2009

While the original article is very impassioned, which I can
appreciate, I don't agree with most of what is being said in it. The
'smash the state, damn The Man' rhetoric was great when I was 18, but
now that I'm 35 I see the world works a little differently. The same
capitalistic system that is decried in the essay is the very system by
which we are able to create these hackerspaces. If my landlord comes
looking for the rent and I say 'go to hell, fascist', well..my
hackerspace isn't long for this world. So, there is no definitive
black and white going on here..only the usual muddy shades of gray.

Second, I highly disagree with the political nature of the whole
thing. There seems to be some weird belief that all of us hackerspaces
are little hidey-holes of hardcore leftist thinkers, sitting around
drinking coffee in little cups while we vehemently argue about Noam
Chomsky essays. Further, the original essay seems to impart the belief
that this is how it should be. Frankly, if you're hackerspace has a
consolidated political belief with no dissenting views then you no
longer have a hackerspace..you have an echo chamber. I see plenty of
smart folks on this list so I don't think I need to explain how
quickly an echo chamber can go wild without anything holding it to

My hackerspace (The Black Lodge, Kirkland, WA) has no political
stance. For one reason, we are all from varied political backgrounds.
This is a good thing. Some of us are conservative, others liberal, we
have differing opinions on everything from guns to health care to
abortion to drugs. Second, we didn't put together a hackerspace to
'join the revolution' or 'smash the state', we put it together to have
a shared collaborative environment in which we could build stuff. Any
political discussions that go on at the space are just general

I think the whole idea of the hackerspace is sharing. Sharing tools,
knowledge, information, etc. This essay seems to think that the idea
behind hackerspaces is to create collaborative spaces, provided the
members all agree lock-step with the same ideology. At that point
you've lost your diversity, the very thing that makes hackerspaces

On a final, side note, the comment in the article about how some US
hackerspaces have no 'Afro-American'[sic] or Latino members is a bit
off. The follow up sentences to that remark do make the point that
Europe could stand to look at its own demographics and see if folks
like Turks and such are adequately represented in their respective
scenes. I wanted to comment to that. Not every US space has black or
hispanic members in it, but that's not because of some white male
exclusionary silliness, its largely due to geography and cultural
interests. Folks in the EU sometimes forget just how freeking BIG the
US is (Germany is roughly the size of Ohio, for comparison). Our
population is spread out and isn't nearly as blended as it is in
Europe. For example, there aren't any Hispanic folks at the Seattle
2600 meeting largely because our Hispanic population is small in
general (and resides largely on the other side of the state). On the
other hand, if you attend the Los Angeles 2600 meeting, you'll find
more than a few folks from Mexico and Latin America, because the
Hispanic population is much higher there.

PGP Key ID: 0x0517358E
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they
are free" - Goethe

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 10:26 AM, LexIcon <unpublishednumber at gmail.com> wrote:
> - Lex
> Matt Joyce wrote:
>> As I stated in my prior post, I obviously agreed there were political
>> / social / what have you implications that were very relevant to
>> hackerspaces.  Citing the availability of chemical supplies was meant
>> as an object lesson in that so to speak.  And that being said I do
>> agree that the hackerspaces organization should become a method by
>> which all our diasporadic (not really a word, but it should be) groups
>> can unite under causes that are central to the needs of our spaces and
>> our global community.
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