[hackerspaces] DARPA Sponsored Hacker Space Assessment

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Tue Dec 6 18:21:27 CET 2011

I figure that DARPA would be no different than any other person.  Most
spaces are open.  They have open houses and open events and they would
likely be invited in the same as anyone else.  That's kind of the point of
the more public spaces.  I doubt even the private ones would care that much
about who attends their open events.

So I do not see how many would have a real moral quandary here.  If the
space is open, it's open to DARPA visiting.  Also, It's good PR.  DARPA
isn't the fire inspector or the FBI... they are not going to come arrest
you.  But, reaching out to an entity like DARPA and being open about who
you are and what you do demonstrates that you "have nothing to hide".  And
while we all value privacy on an individual scale, and I am a proponent of
that...  Letting someone like DARPA know you exist and being friendly with
them may be useful down the line when the Byron Sonne of your hacker space
ends up being arrested for possession of instruments of DIY hobbies.

I get it that some of you guys are super paranoid.  And I am aware that
sometimes courting attention is not wise.  DARPA isn't going to care if you
have an unmarked bottle of ferric chloride sitting next to a bottle of
whiskey.  Or an open flame in the center of your floor that you are driving
RC cars through.

But, down the line if some sort of PR disaster befalls you because of
someone who would care about these things...  It might be nice to be able
to say "we not only have not been involved with anything nefarious we've
been open about everything we do.  Even DARPA has been invited in and shown
what's up."

More to the point...  DARPA has a lot of capacity for making
recommendations for education entities.  In fact NSF partners heavily with
DARPA.  DARPA also does a good deal to ensure that the next generation is
as smart as can be... it's in their interest to do so.  If hackerspace
design patterns make people smarter... they will want to try to make that
approach ( pedagogy ) more available.  In short they may end up being a
huge fan.

Law of unintended consequences swings both ways.


On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 7:44 AM, Jesse Krembs <jessekrembs at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear All
> In light of the recent discussion ("will the fruits of our labors be
> used for, good or for evil?") I figure it would be time to ask a
> question I have been pondering for some time.
> Would the hacker space that you are a member of participate in a
> assessment of your hacker space if it was sponsored by DARPA?
> Additional information to consider:
> DARPA would be the sole receiver of this the information collected
> during the assessment. It would not be shared with the general public
> or the participating hacker spaces.
> The assessment would be of an open nature. With all the information
> provided by the hacker space being assessed as they feel fit.
> The requested information would be broad (state of financing, number
> of members, project, interests, tools, aspirations, history, etc) but
> not particularly specific.
> For example:
> How many members and what the sociological breakdown is.
> There would of course be some very specific questions but not
> particularly intrusive I think. Name, address, contact info.
> The idea is that the assessment would be in person by the DARPA
> sponsored individual, with the assessor taking pictures of the space,
> making floor plan maps, inventory of major equipment (we have a
> lathe!). I think this is a good opportunity as well to provide a
> narrative history of the space and other relevant topics.
> Feel free to answer me on or off list. I'm not interested in launching
> a big discussion football BTW, just trying to get a sense of what the
> community at large thinks. The work/life change required to perform
> this work is quite massive and figuring out some fact before hand
> would be key.
> Thank you.
> --
> Jesse Krembs
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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