[hackerspaces] Inter-Hackerspace Cooperation and Membership

Paul Bohm paul at boehm.org
Wed Jan 13 22:20:10 CET 2010

i always told visitors to metalab that learning to "don't solve
problems that don't exist yet", was the most important lesson we ever
learned. i believe strongly enough in that lesson that i think there's
a general pattern there.

whenever we thought there was an exception to that rule, some possible
future problem we'd need to take care of right now with process and
regulation, we were wrong. it's important to see that any rules or
process you add have cost too, and erring on the side of too much is
very costly, because every bit of flexibility you remove will make
your place lose its dynamicism.

i can give endless examples of stupid things we thought we'd have to
do because of futures we predicted (e.g. there was very strong
sentiment to but up bars in front of the windows, because someone
might break in, and that's just one tiny example) - basically
metalab's first year of existence for me was nothing but a constant
fight between ppl wanting to create rules, and ppl preventing them
from doing so. i'm really happy to say that i think for the most part
we managed to prevent people from enacting rules for non-existing
problems, but it really was a full-time struggle (austrians love

after all this, and seeing how many non-existing problems we didn't
solve and how well it turned out, i believe even more now that humans
are incapable of predicting the future, and that in hackerspaces
there's almost no potential future problems that should be solved
right now. you not only have insufficient information about the
future, but you're also depriving the group of a learning process.
some pain is good, because it helps the group experiment with
solutions, rally behind an effort, and then when the pain goes away
everyone has learned something, and the solution is hopefully accepted
by everyone.


On Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM, Yves Quemener <quemener.yves at free.fr> wrote:
> Koen Martens wrote:
>> On Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 12:45:10PM +0100, quemener.yves at free.fr wrote:
>>> I think that this works well when the number of visitors is lower than the number of members. In a situation like the aforementioned C-base during a Chaos Congress, having more visitors than members can cause problem and require a policy of some kind. I think the current discussion is useful if we want to avoid the "members only" policy from becoming more and more common.
>> FWIW, although i might not have been happy with it at the time, i totally understand the policy at c-base at the time of big parties. You simply don't want all those intoxicated party-people in your members area, messing around with projects and equipment when they're not in their most clear and careful state. Apart from the fact that they might break stuff, that might actually turn out to be dangerous.
>> And in my experience, when the place is not crowded things are not as strict and you can get a tour or sit and hang out if you know someone there (getting to know people is easy these days :).
> Well, right now hackers usually feel that they are not enough and welcome
> any curious person but imagine that the next hollywood movie is a "hackers
> are cool and have super powers" movie. You'll quickly get surrounded by a
> crowd of incompetent self-proclaimed hackers and sorting between reputed
> people and complete tourists can be hard. It would be nice to have a kind
> of social network in place to know who is who. Maybe a layer on top of a
> FOAF ? But I know that social networks are frown upon by many...
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