[hackerspaces] Out with the "hackers"... In with the "makers" and the "fixers"

B F bakmthiscl at gmail.com
Sun Nov 27 17:05:20 CET 2011

I have no problem with language, but that seems not the case with the
general public.  "Hacker" has become a bad word.  This was driven home
to me a couple night ago, over dinner with a group, in which a
programmer who worked for a major computer company (in the
communications field) responded to my talk about a "hackerspace" by
commenting that she might have trouble professionally if associated
with such a group!

This movement is shooting itself in the foot by continuing to use the
terms "hack", "hacking", "hacker", and "hackerspace".  Like it or not,
the American public "knows" that hackers are evil people who steal
identities and money, infiltrate corporate, government, and military
computers and steal their secrets, etc., etc.  The media has told them
that and they believe it.  Even intelligent people believe it.  That
"hacker" could mean something benevolent as well, does not occur to

As I was repairing the pan in my automatic bread-making machine this
morning -- mostly involving replacing a broken C-clip -- it occurred
to me that fixing things is as American as apple pie.  As a movement,
we need to ally ourselves with that tradition.  Likewise, making
things is All-American. (I'm being a bit facetious, here, but if we
have less than 30 seconds to get a message across, we have to use buzz

Therefore, we should chuck the term "hacker" in all its forms, and
switch completely to "makerspaces" or even "fixerspaces".  Or, more
simply, "shops" or "labs", with relevant adjectives to further
describe them.

I'm sure there will be disagreement as to terms to use, but some
change is needed lest we alienate too many people.

- Bruce

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