[hackerspaces] A New Hacker Has Joined Your Party!

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Fri Jan 14 00:39:42 CET 2011

Now I shall pull a Walt Whitman and say something that contradicts myself.
I am large, and I contain multitudes.

Spaces whether we want it to be so or not, reflect upon each other.  In so
far as positive popular opinion serves spaces, so do popular negative
opinion.  If one space decides to take a political stance on a hot topic
such as say "wikileaks", they run the risk of polarizing perceptions of what
hackerspaces are in some minds.  That in turn can impact other spaces.

So regardless of what a community locally comes to consensus on, it's
important that people remain mindful of the fact that... everything we each
individually do, reflects upon all of us as a whole.  And while so far
hackerspaces have enjoyed unbelievably good press in the US, we simply
aren't a household name.  If we end up engendering the ill will of any group
of people that can hinder what some hackerspaces consider to be a chief goal
of furthering technology / making / hacking.

I've always liked the vagueness of NYCR's mission to "Learn, share, make".
Basically, I wonder if maybe there should be a global mission statement.
Something we all agree is paramount to our own individual missions.  So that
we can avoid putting pressures on each other that might hurt our goals.  Can
we agree on some very simple definition of the mission of hackerspaces.  And
then use that as a general rule of thumb for deciding if an action will
violate our shared trust?

Maybe that's a good thing.  I don't want to limit the individual cultures
and innovations of each very different space.  But at the same time I
recognize that we are tie together in many ways beyond our own wishes.  And
we need to acknowledge that reality and act appropriately.

But that's just my personal thoughts.

On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 3:29 PM, Matt Joyce <matt at nycresistor.com> wrote:

> Having been involved in multiple hack spaces...
> Yes.  Spaces are VERY different.  Is that bad?  Not at all.  Different
> goals are served for different people / cultures.
> One of the more amazing dualities I've seen is between hacker dojo and
> noisebridge.  These spaces are practically neighbors, both are wildly
> successful, and yet both are so very very different.   Compared to my
> experiences at NYCR they are still more different.
> That's pretty awesome.
> -Matt
> On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM, Chris Hardee <shazzner at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Excellent point though I think the argument shift a bit from integration
>> with the local community to "what is a Hackerspace?".
>> I think hackerspaces have hacker activism inherent to it's purpose,
>> without needing to declare it as such. Education, copyrights, patents,
>> hoarding of knowledge, etc are all challenged at a hackerspace daily.
>> Which makes integration to the community all the more important. By
>> becoming part of society, society itself is challenging these barriers.
>> On Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM, Mel <mel at hackersouverts.fr> wrote:
>>> There are some really good points going on on both sides of the debate in
>>> here :D
>>> I come from a very different background from what seems to constitute the
>>> base of hackers in my country and like Ross, haven't had as much exposure to
>>> it as I wish - in part because spaces are still somewhat few and far between
>>> (takes a while to actually get to the physical spaces) and because they are
>>> sometimes not as welcoming as one might hope.
>>> I do agree with you Far, on the account that ideally hackerspaces should
>>> advocate for a more open culture and teach the people the system is failing
>>> (even moreso on this one : I work as a librarian in a middle school, and
>>> witness the drama firsthand). It doesn't necessarily mean, however, that
>>> being part of the local economical fabric is necessarily a thing to avoid -
>>> as long as it can be an advantage to the missions the spaces state for
>>> themselves. A bit like this passage in the book "Makers" where characters
>>> argue about creating a company to help represent a distributed network or
>>> rides despite the wishes of their "leader" : it's just a convenient way to
>>> create large structures, and it has the side-effect of generating some sort
>>> of wealth - but in the end it's but a tool to an end, not the end in itself.
>>> Your point about avoidance and distrust of authorities is interesting too
>>> - in that said authorities are sometimes partly responsible for the
>>> situation in which certain areas find themselves. However, in a context
>>> where authorities are welcoming bottom-top innovation instead of squashing
>>> or drawing (political and/or economical) profit from what hackerspaces can
>>> offer to the community, couldn't that work ?
>>> Brilliant debate overall though - keep the great ideas coming !
>>> T.
>>> --
>>> Hackers Ouverts - Hackerspace nomade en Île de France
>>> http://www.hackersouverts.fr/
>>> http://twitter.com/hackersouverts
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