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

Will Bradley will at heatsynclabs.org
Sun Nov 27 21:22:44 CET 2011

We take the extra few seconds to explain that we are a community workshop,
that we're good hackers, that hacking is finding creative solutions to
problems, and while we may have computer security types here we do not
allow anything illegal (we're a 501c3 nonprofit, we can't.)

A very religiously conservative family heard this as I was showing their
son Arduino, and promptly bought a bunch of Arduino stuff and vowed to come
back. If they can get over the word hacker and the craziness that goes on
at a creative space like ours, I think any other reasonable people should
be able to, too. Conventional wisdom would have us putting our space
elsewhere due to Mesa's reputation, but we've done quite well and
encountered no ill effects; rather the opposite, residents are hungry for
something like this.

Your friend does know that Jeff Moss (DarkTangent, creator of the hacker
con Defcon) advises the DHS, right? Not to mention all the good guys whose
companies pay for them to go to Black Hat and Defcon. The original hackers
were model railroaders at MIT. I think knowing hacker history is good for
everyone. But if you're not in a position to fight the mainstream, I won't
judge you. Rest assured that every space has this argument and finds some
On Nov 27, 2011 12:52 PM, "Arclight" <arclight at gmail.com> wrote:

> My opinion is that anyone who is offended by the word "hacker" will
> probably be offended by a lot of other things about our space.
> Arclight
> On Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 8:05 AM, B F <bakmthiscl at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 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
> > them.
> >
> > 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
> > words).
> >
> > 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
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> > http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
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