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

charlie x charlie at finitemonkeys.com
Sun Nov 27 21:49:08 CET 2011

maker also has a bit of a rep too, it’s a lot more of a commercial name, 
some people see it as a lower entry point (which is good and bad for various 
reasons) I think the word maker as a marketable hacker, but one of the 
interesting differences to me between the open source hardware and open 
source is just how much its ok to commercialise it, I'm ok with that its 
just an interesting difference. I always did ask the EFF guy how I'm 
supposed to pay rent if I'm giving away all my code ;) It seems like a term 
mostly coined to make it mainstream, so use that if you wish

I'd rather we take the term hacker back, than give in, it’s a fight that’s 
been going on as long as I can remember.it was more about calling it cracker 
vs hacker for the longest time.

Going against the grain, speaking out and education vs compliance, which are 
some of my default stances as a hacker.

Not agreeing or liking what the general public does, is kind of the point of 
a counter culture.

Personally I'd rather you stop using American, its not all American. Hacking 
is universal,as is this list.

-----Original Message----- 
From: B F
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 8:05 AM
To: Hackerspaces General Discussion List
Subject: [hackerspaces] Out with the "hackers"... In with the "makers" 
andthe "fixers"

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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