[hackerspaces] RANT!: SO VERY frustrated with lack of local activity :( Warning: some negative energy present - sorry

Will Bradley will at heatsynclabs.org
Sat Nov 26 00:21:06 CET 2011

I skipped the last few paragraphs, apologies, but I think I have some
advice for ya.

At HeatSync we have seen similar issues. Lots of talk, very little action.
Creative people have new ideas every second and only a small percent of
these ideas are worthy of putting muscle behind. But if wishes were horses,
we'd all be cowboys. This isn't a problem per se; creativity is great. But
execution is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, right? Getting real work
done is the core purpose of a creative space. Have those inspiring
conversations at a coffee shop, and come to the space to do the actual work
of creating.

This is actually a main goal of our board this year; refocusing on creating
stuff instead of sitting around talking or surfing the web. We're not in a
dire situation like you, but it's still (and probably always will be) a

Here's what we did: first, show up and work on stuff. Bring your projects
and do them yourself. Invite people to help, or to work on their own stuff,
but don't get distracted by conversation or brainstorming or
"collaboration" -- you're at a workshop, get the work done, have
discussions elsewhere even if it means outside the front door.

But the most important rule is show up, on a regular publicized basis, and
really work on stuff. You hardly need marketing if you do this; if you
don't do it, all the marketing in the world won't save you. If you can only
make it once a month, or once a week, fine! But make sure those dates are
scheduled regularly, and that you show up, and that you work on stuff.

Don't have discussions about what you should or shouldn't be making. Don't
interrupt others and tell them to get working instead of talking. Be
positive, say nothing within the walls of the space if you have to, and
work. Two things you're allowed to say are "hey would you like to help me
with <specific, simple task>?" and "hi! What are you working on? ...cool,
can I help? Is there something we can do right now?" -- remember,
discussion is not work. It's useful, but you don't need a hackerspace to
discuss things.

Doing this is a form of leading by example and has helped the space
immensely (or at least helped us core members stay sane) -- even when we
should be writing emails or talking to people, we've tried to work on our
own projects instead. Putting on headphones if needed. This gets momentum
going. Doing something positive besides bitch about the lack of momentum is
also a great way of keeping a necessary positive vibe around the place.

Finally, chances are your space has lots of tables and chairs. I'm toying
with the idea of eliminating these at the lab, making them stand-up desks
which are healthier anyway and it's hard to be lazy when you're standing up
at a workbench. They're normally one-sided, too, so your friends aren't
staring you in the face trying to show you a funny video. Just an idea
which I'm sure would go over like a lead balloon even in our space but
might be relevant. We have plenty of chairs though and whenever we break
them out the whole place becomes a classroom or coffee shop and the vibe
changes for the worse. A hackerspace vibe really centers around a
workbench, I think.

These are just my musings and I look forward to hearing other (positive
attitude!) suggestions.
On Nov 25, 2011 3:12 PM, "Frustrated fo sho ???" <frustratedfosho at gmail.com>

> I take part on this list some with another name - but -
> Posting this anonymously as much as I can or care to... didn't proxy so
> please don't IP me if that's avail through the registration.
> I even made a separate email account to bring this up and seek advice so
> that it's not too apparent where I am from.  I am in a relatively small but
> major city in the united states o'merica.
> Perhaps more than advice - I just need to vent/discuss/and hear others
> stories of success out of dwindling interest or just similar frustrations.
> Here's the bit - I found out about hackerspaces 2 years ago now from an
> old friend that looked me up just to tell me about the concept and the
> local one that he had just discovered - he never joined - saw the writing
> on the wall but me... I'm hopeful, or was at least for a while.
> SO excited!  WOW!  For soooo long I had needed something like this to
> collaborate - relate - and incubate.
> I showed up with bells on - was waiting for the next meeting like it was
> Xmas morning for a 10 year old.
> Saw someone there even from 2600 back in the day (90's) - he had just
> heard about it too!
> It was neat... lots of fun!   Everyone was friendly and seemingly
> interested in what I do and my crazy mad science stuff... in this area that
> is really a treat!
> I brought in a robot I was working on - old science equipment w nixie
> displays - some professional VR equipment - even a baby food sized jar 1/4
> full of pure cesium that I offered to have a cesium explosion party and
> film with my ultra slow mo camera!  that's about half a grand$$$ of cesium
> :/ minimum!
> Make a long story short... I became more and more frustrated and
> disappointed with all of the talking, meetings, and further dragging bootay
> and never really doing anything of much.
> Over and over I've had hopes of new ideas and projects that are discussed,
> sometimes met upon, but never (or usually never) executed.   It really
> seems like 95% of everything was about having meetings - kinda like playing
> hackerspace make believe... might as well get out the stuffed animals and
> put meters and irons in their paws.
> Over time the group has dwindled - membership has dropped from the
> incubation period - and many people have come to visit/check out but
> quickly leave (and I suspect snickering) and never shown up again!
> YUG!    I may actually be the last member that joined and is still around!-
> As in noone has joined since I had! well that I know of.
> In fact - I'm not sure there are any members other than myself that were
> not in the original gang to put it together!
> So with any group there is going to be some people more
> interested/able/have time/active than others...  but I can't personally /
> don't personally have any interest of herding cats that don't have the
> time/delusion/etc.  Don't get me wrong... good people here and some have
> been active a little(as much as they could) but all but one are gone/moved
> and the one left seems to think it's all a joke now or seems uninterested
> too.
> I think I became a bit unpopular for a while with some when I started to
> voice my "poop or get off the pot" attitude after a year or so of
> frustration.
> When I get to the point that I want to say something... let's just say I
> believe in open source honesty - I don't believe in beating around the bush
> too   much... and admittedly can sometimes be a bit harsh to make sure I'm
> heard when I'm not.  I know when to give up.. but maybe hold on a tiny bit
> longer than I should.
> SO many people have shown interest in the past but if they showed up they
> never showed up agian-
> I've spent ALOT of time in this 'space the last 2 months - and NOT ONCE
> HAS ANOTHER SOUL SHOWED UP!  I'm talking some 12-14 hour days here.  And
> I'm also talking 5 days a week!
> I've meet multiple people around town that have said they've "heard of X
> hackerspace in town" with a kind of a snickering tone.
> People have shown up from out of town even (from other hackerspaces) when
> there should be a regularly scheduled meeting that is publicized - and I
> feel bad that they wasted their time while in town because there is noone
> around!  I'm the one that finds the note on the door - they end up talking
> to the owner of the building and I'm sure he says "oh they're never
> there... I don't know why they're wasting their time."
> I send a message out to others in the group that we missed a fellow
> hackspace person and noone seems to care.
> I mean this is an awesome fun crazy city to visit... I can't imagine how
> disappointed I'd be if I made time while here to visit and noone was around
> when their website says they would be.  I mean... regular scheduled meeting
> and NOONE is there!?!?!?!  I'd be pretty pissed if I knew that they just
> slack hardcore and inconsiderately fail to update their website - HOW RUDE!
> I once read Bre's (makerbot) tweets (or something... forgot where the
> comment was) that he was hoping to visit our group while in town but was
> sick and couldn't - Honestly I was thankful for him.
> I've tried to come up with projects or organize stuff... even got some
> excitement and interest - but again - once it's time to do anything -
> NOTHING happens!
> What should I do?  Start my own group?
> I've thought about it -
> I've registered a site and all...
> I have a few people that I do stuff with in town...  I don't want to hurt
> any feelings - especially after getting so frustrated and kinda bitchy
> (that was a year or so ago)
> and don't want any bad blood situations.
> I don't know - I don't know...
> It seems that this HS is a case of organizing a group for the sake of
> organizing a group.
> I think that organizing out of necessity or some other benefit of taking
> that step.
> I feel like this is more of "hey guys - look !  Hackerspaces!  What a
> nifty idea!  I want to have one around so that I'll actually be inspired to
> do something!  Let's make one so that we'll do something!" - but that comes
> from a group of people who all lack the motivation to do anything on their
> own.
> One of the great things about a hackerspace SEEMS to be mutual inspiration
> - it can be very motivating to work on projects together!
> But what if you have a dozen people that want to do nifty neat-o things
> but have little individual motivation -
> This is pretty much just a sociological experiment to prove that
> organizing a bunch of people together with little motivation proves to not
> synergize group motivation.  :(
> I just feel that it's a shame and it kind of hogs the place for a
> hackerspace in my locale - in fact I think it makes the entire concept of
> hackerspaces a joke in this area.
> Yeah, I know - harsh... but seriously true from people I've met and didn't
> know I had anything to do with ours.
> I actually pay dues again in hopes.
> There's one harbor freight 3$ meter here... a HF soldering iron with a
> messed up tip (they only last a day or so)... some jelly bean macs... and
> everyones garbage that they don't want to throw out but donate it to here
> so that it doesn't clutter their own house.
> I now rent a studio next door (10 months now) and have an open door policy
> to my equipment and resources.
> Thousands and tens of thousands of components - makerbot and repraps -
> large format printers(24") and plotter cutters(4 footer and 2 footer) -
> laptops galore - thousands of vintage vacuum tubes - every cable known to
> man (I personally love old 100pin cannon connectors) - tons of
> motors/servos/steppers from toy size to industrial 20 pounder servos left
> over from NASA - lots of aluminum stock/polycarb/acrylic/hardware -
> alpha/beta/gamma sources :) - 1st half of a CNC setup built - tons of
> professional design and graphics stuff (I owned a sign shop in the 90's) -
> an Xray machine from the 50's (actually everything from an old dental
> office) - robots and lasers (of course!) - lot's of scientific equipment -
> every tool known to man - 100's of different IC's (some hundreds of each -
> hell I have 10,000 7805's!!!) -  etc etc etc... I could go on and on - I
> have wide nerd-dom interests and have been around for almost 40 years..
> .point is... resources are not an interest issue - and I make it all
> available for free... but only got a taker once for some 3mm old school
> green leds.  :(
> Again... Bitching and moaning here... and looking for advice and/or
> discussion to anyone interested in a positive and productive way (even if I
> sound pretty frustrated and giving off negative energy)
> I've visited other hackerspaces in the USA and wow... how I wish we had
> something like that here :(
> sincerely....
> anonymously supa dupa frustrated
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