[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

Adam D Bachman adam.bachman at gmail.com
Mon May 10 18:16:35 CEST 2010

Whoa, I *never* said anything about paid staff. I pointed at the coworking
movement (http://coworking.com/) because, as far as I know, they exist as
for-profit entities, but don't have a staff and don't make a profit. The
coworking space founders I know personally all do other things as their day
job. They started coworking spaces because they recognized the accelerated
serendipity (http://davetroy.com/?p=1124) that can come from putting a bunch
of smart, interesting, excitable people in a space. Each person does their
own thing, but in a situation that allows for cross-talk and interaction far
beyond what anyone of them would get alone, in a cubicle, or sitting in a
random coffee shop. I definitely think what the coworking folks are doing
lines up with what the hackerspace folks are doing.

By "approach as a business" I mean that if we can't find enough members to
support the space, then the space will not exist. I think running the
organization in such a way that it cannot exist without large, regular
influxes of capital from outside sources is an admission of failure. Node
has a physical presence because there are enough people willing to buy in.

I absolutely agree with you that membership dues cannot be confused with
membership entitlement. Payment of dues (in any amount) does not guarantee
you will be awesome. No one is going to complete your projects for you and
no one is going to clean up your messes. What you are paying for is a space
to do work in. If you suck or are lazy, then that's your problem. We can't
make that not be true.

To be clear, I see it as a business because we have a lot of the same
concerns as a business--taxes, overhead, capital expenses: income and
outflow. But, I don't see it as a commercial entity in that we're trying to
sell people something. We exist, we are what we are. Those who want to be a
part of it find us and become a part of it. We don't have to sell it because
people just get it. We tell the story not to market ourselves or make
ourselves more attractive, but to make clear what it is we're trying to do.

>  I think once you go down the lane of paid staff...

100% agreement.

> And I think we all agree on one thing, and that is that everyone has
another explanation of the term 'hackerspace'.

110% agreement. Awesome.

- Adam

On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 11:33 AM, Koen Martens <gmc at sonologic.nl> wrote:

> On Mon, May 10, 2010 at 10:59:34AM -0400, Adam D Bachman wrote:
> > I definitely see what we do administratively as a business. It is whether
> > you're for or non-profit. You have income and overhead, the second must
> be
> > balanced against the first, therefore you are running a business. If you
> are
> > creating something people want, they will pay money for it. Whether the
> > thing you're selling is the actual physical space or a compelling vision,
> > backed by physical infrastructure, you've got a product. Going for-profit
> > over non-profit allows flexibility, but can reduce the image of community
> > ownership. The co-working community (in the US, at least) has been
> combining
> > for profit and community led successfully, so it can work.
> I would think that approaching a hackerspace in such a commercial way, with
> paid staff, has a danger in it: that the 'members' are slipping into
> consumer
> mode. Expecting the paid staff to take care of everything, refusing to pick
> up simple tasks themselves because 'hey, she's getting paid for it, let her
> do it!'. I may be a long-haired left-wing hippy (or so some of our members
> tell me from time to time :), but I feel that in our hackerspace everyone
> is on an equal footing. I may be the president, but that doesn't mean I
> don't have to vacuum or clean the toilets. In fact, once I start claiming
> special status for being the president (or, in the case of the mail that
> started this thread, that i do so much that i need to get paid), others
> will likely be less motivated to do the tedious tasks that are also part of
> having a hackerspace.
> On the danger of starting another heated thread on the definition of what
> a hackerspace is, I think once you go down the lane of paid staff, you're
> not a hackerspace anymore. But that's just in the context of what I think
> a hackerspace is. And I think we all agree on one thing, and that is that
> everyone has another explanation of the term 'hackerspace'.
> Gr,
> Koen
> _______________________________________________
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