[hackerspaces] Looking for some insight from other S.O.O.H.

nicolle n. superherogirl at gmail.com
Wed Feb 9 06:19:42 CET 2011

i'm right there with you on group classes, and the importance of having
people in the space.  things like classes and open-to-the-public hackathons
are great for getting the word out and getting new people into the space.

co-working is something i've always been a little wary about at a
hackerspace, though.  people deciding on their own to work on some job stuff
at the space, fine.  having a desk for people to set out any kind of
projects that need a desk, fine.  where it may get dicey to invite
co-working is if, during the day, someone wants to co-work and someone else
wants to do something fairly loud.  even though that may not usually happen,
there's a potential for conflict there...and the idea of someone being able
to play the "this is for my job, knock it off with that project of yours"
card at a hackerspace might be dangerous for people's likelihood of
continuing to see the space as a safe and open haven for project work.

and one thing...just because there are people at your space who aren't into
infosec doesn't mean you're any less of a "hackerspace".  infosec is just
another skill, just like lockpicking or knife sharpening or anything else.
different people at a hackerspace are interested in different things, and
have different skill levels at them.  the key to a hackerspace is that it's
a place that people are comfortable and excited to bring themselves and
their projects, and willing to share their skills with people who are
interested in learning them.  it's a place of project progress and knowledge
exchange, not limited to any particular subject--and only limited by the
interests of the people who come in.


On Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 10:46 PM, Nate Bezanson <myself at telcodata.us> wrote:

> > If anyone else has been through this 'how active should we be'
> > discussion, and has some good advice, please email me off-list. I'll
> > give the details there.
> Nah, I'm not gonna get into the meta discussion here, I'd rather talk
> about activity directly. And I think that's appropriate on the public
> list.
> Activity breeds activity. When you come into the space and nobody's there,
> you do your thing and leave again. But overlapping activities become
> hangout time, and when the space is a fun place to hang out, people bring
> their friends along.
> Some of this means more members. If the space isn't fully utilized yet,
> then it can/should accommodate more members! At some point, you'll hit a
> critical mass where activity becomes self-reinforcing and the space
> transforms into a vibrant community. Reaching that point is hard.
> One thing that's worked for us at i3Detroit is entry-level classes.
> Lockpicking seems particularly interesting to newbies who read the blog of
> a "hackerspace". Blade sharpening and welding have also been very well
> attended. Find the entry-level stuff that fits your facilities, and teach,
> teach, teach! We typically pick up one or two new members from a class of
> 20. Many of them don't renew after the first month, but plenty do, and
> there you have more activity. And someone who's new to lockpicking might
> be a lvl 9 mage at woodworking...
> Another thing that's brought people into the space regularly is supporting
> a FIRST robotics team. The high-schoolers don't pay dues (providing them
> with workspace is one of the community-enriching activities we brag to the
> IRS about), but they bring ideas and noise and dust and all the other
> byproducts of learning and doing.
> And if you're thinking "Welding and knife sharpening? That doesn't sound
> like the hackers I know!", you're right. I'm resigned to the notion that
> we're a makerspace. When a member asked what an infosec con was, it popped
> into sharp relief for me, and I walked around in a daze for a day or two.
> But I've realized I'm totally okay with the idea, because we share the
> same ethic, and the more the space is filled with people with *different*
> skills, the more interesting the community becomes.
> One other thing: Group projects to rally behind. When we entered that
> Instructables laser contest, we all went on a
> call-grandma-and-have-her-vote blitz, which was a bit silly at times but
> really energized the group. Finishing up our individual (and each other's)
> projects for Maker Faire was a great last-minute push, which really
> brought people together. And every few months, we organize a
> potluck/lock-in/all-night work party to chew down the spacewide to-do
> list. One or two members will do a bunch of planning and purchasing to
> make sure that when the hands are available, the work is doable. Turnout
> for these work parties has been astonishing, and as long as they're kept
> fairly infrequent, interest seems to grow each time.
> There's been some talk of dedicating a few desks to "co-working" space to
> attract some daytime activity, since most members are only around during
> evenings and weekends, but that hasn't really materialized yet. Personally
> I love the idea, as I believe the group can only benefit from higher
> utilization.
> -Nate-
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"despite these imperfections
despite all i say
inside in recollections
i'm done with yesterday"
by Adema
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