[hackerspaces] That one person...

Ross Smith rsmith at i3detroit.com
Wed Mar 2 17:22:30 CET 2011

Whoops!  Sorry for the double-reply, Agent5.

> And what if that person has no idea how much their
> actions are effecting the group? They may be genuinely oblivious. If they
> are reasonable folk you may just get a "Whoah? Really?!?! I had no idea I
> was being a jerk. Sorry about that." type response. From there they will
> alter they will hopefully be more aware of their actions.

Yep.  This is why you lead in with respect - you don't want to
accidentally antagonize a friend.

The other type of conflict - much more nuanced - is when two people
justifiably see the same phenomenon with different consequences
("Hacker X stayed at the space until 3 AM making an amazing project
and left an amazing mess").  An amazing project was made - celebrate!
An amazing mess was made - ... vilify?  It's too easy to do, to put on
your stompin' boots and say that someone is categorically in the wrong
because a mess was made.  In the real world, great work involves

This is why you have to respect both sides of the situation.
Antagonizing Hacker X means driving away someone who is - you know -
getting lots of use from your space.  But when Hacker Y comes in to
use the space and finds it (to their eyes) a shambles, somethin' ain't

The best solution, when possible, is to find fault in the system
before you find fault in the people.  Understand the root of the
problem and reorganize the space's pattern to prevent it in the
future.  I spoke to one such Hacker X last night, actually, who was
leaving a mess at the space while making some (very cool) movie props.
 The blow-up around his mess settled out peacably enough, but I wanted
to talk to him about it.  He simply didn't know our policy for storing
large projects, which I told him.  He had a turn to enlighten me as
well - the so-called mess included his homemade particle collection
box which he had nowhere else to store.  Our space badly needs a
built-in vented booth for dusty activities, and he was proactively
taking safety measures.  He admitted he needed to clean up more, but
in the process he learned from me about current storage practices, and
I learned from him about current project needs.  This closed the
feedback loop on space self-improvement.

Ross Smith
i3Detroit President

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually
right." -- Henry Ford

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