[hackerspaces] Children in hackerspaces.

Nick Farr (hackerspaces.org) nick at hackerspaces.org
Thu Jan 28 17:48:18 CET 2010

On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 21:10, Donald J Ankney <dankney at hackerco.de> wrote:

> Assuming that insurance reasons are an underlying motivation
> and not a rationalization is the first one. I voted against kids in
> the Black Lodge because I don't want to be a babysitter.

Well, that's honest!  Thanks for having the courage to admit it!

To be clear:  The independence of spaces is very, very important.
What I'm doing is advocating for my firm belief, which I'm happy to
hear you call bullshit on if that's how you feel.

I believe hackerspaces should engage children, and I'm trying to
convince you that doing so also coincides with the growth and
proliferation of the concept.  If I've lost you from the go, the only
thing I ask is that you not patently discourage others from attempting

> so I voted to keep kids out unless a guardian is present.

OK, this is a relief.  What really worries me is kids being banned
under any circumstances.

> The second assumption is that hackerspaces are necessary
> for becoming a hacker.

I apologize if this is what you drew from my comments, since I
completely agree with your point.

What I'm most worried about is the aging of our community.  In Europe,
perhaps not as much, but I'm not seeing as many kids clamoring to
become a part of this scene as before.  Where are they all?  I could
speculate as to where they are--but I see connecting with kids as a
mission hackerspaces should pursue.

Second, how much more skilled would any of us been had we had this
when we were growing up?  If we had a kind mentor to save us a few
hours of not seeing something pretty simple for ourselves?  Of having
tools and equipment right there to facilitate the realization of what
we knew to be possible?

And, granted, this is simply my opinion.  As a sociologist, I'm seeing
the kinds of disagreements and arguments we're having as signs that a
corner has turned for the worse.  We had a rapid period of growth, and
it appears that 2010 will be the year when there will be more spaces
folding than opening.  Not reaching out, moving on, expanding and
looking for new opportunities (i.e. engaging kids) just makes my
prediction more likely.

> In my mind, groupthink is the ultimate mark of failure for hackerspaces

In this point, I also agree...but if we ever get to that point, we've
lost the right to call ourselves hackers.  To get here is a

And, as a side point, for as diverse a group of hackers as we are--I
think we're doing splendidly as far as working with each other and
respecting our differences of opinion.

Nick Farr / http://nickfarr.org / 8B13F204
Washington, DC, 20013-1208
P: +1 (707) 676-FARR
F: +1 (866) 536-2616

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