[hackerspaces] will the fruits of our labors be used for, good or for evil?

Volatile Compound volatilecompound at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 07:04:19 CET 2011

On 11/29/11 9:44 PM, Al Jigen Billings wrote:

> There is a huge difference between someone taking your code that is open
> sourced and doing something with it (whether you like it or not) and
> taking a paycheck from a part of the federal government directly
> involved in our military efforts.
> Can you not see the difference?

I absolutely see the difference.  However, I also realise that if you're 
going to accept money from the DoD, you should probably expect it to 
further some sort of research that they may later take an interest in. 
It's not at all dissimilar to how a large number of educational 
institutions receive funding from like agencies.

> That would be for various groups to decide. I'm drawing a line with the
> military and military related projects given the ten years of war we've
> had, among other reasons.

Fine.  You may do so, but be aware that the reason you have just 
outlined above is one based purely on personal politics.  It's your 
right to make your decision along those lines, but not your right to 
determine that that is the correct course of action for all hackerspaces.

>> Besides, who's to say that there aren't hostile organisations
>> providing funding to hackerspaces through shell companies? Or
>> intelligence agencies, or any number of other could-bes? Use your best
>> judgement when approaching or being approached for funding, and if it
>> doesn't seem right then don't take the offer. At least with
>> approaching the DoD you know exactly who you're dealing with up front.
> And exactly why you shouldn't explicitly join the military-industrial
> complex.

Again, sounds like a personal issue.

Frankly, if any hackerspace is soliciting donations from any corporate 
or governmental body, the Officers and Board (at the very least) of the 
hackerspace should be in agreement as to from whom they do and do not 
solicit financial assistance from.  This is something that can be 
resolved case-by-case at the individual hackerspaces, *not* on a mailing 

> Look, if you and your buddies want to take DoD money to make shit, do
> it. Be prepared to be judged by others if you do.

You can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time.  Though I am 
curious as to why you assume that "[me] and [my] buddies" are soliciting 
DoD funding; at no point have I indicated such, and am not aware of 
anyone I know (or myself) doing so.

>> Speaking of bullshit, quit grinding your personal political axes on
>> the hackerspace stone wheel. Seriously, your point seems to have
>> little to do with an actual problem and more to do with you having
>> found an opportunity to air your grievances with the military.
> Well, I do run a hackerspace as president and a board member so, yeah, I
> might have a bit of an axe to grind. I have a dog in this fight as it were.

Fair enough, and I should clarify that as of recently I sit on the board 
of one.  As for having "a dog in this fight", I'm having a difficult 
time seeing where the fight actually is - as best as I can tell from 
what was written below, this was a matter of internal discussions that 
spilled over here.  Now that you have informed us of this, what's 
supposed to happen?  Are we meant to fall into lockstep with your point 
of view, debate the issue, or ignore it entirely?  As best I can tell, 
you brought the issue onto this list (probably in hope of engendering 
support for your point of view), and didn't exactly find what you were 
hoping for.  So now what?

> I'm also on the e-mail lists for a number of other hackerspaces and this
> is a debate, on small scale, that many of them are having on their own.
> The DoD money is being discussed quite a bit. So far, I think everyone
> has made pretty much the same observations that I've made here and
> decided it was money best left on the table. Maybe you and your space
> feel different but I know of no one who has actually applied for the DoD
> money.

I'm not privy to the other discussions, so cannot respond to what may or 
may not have been said on other lists to which I am not subscribed. 
Having said that, I reiterate the following with an addendum to your reply:

>> Don't want DoD funding in your hackerspace? Fine. Adopt a resolution,
>> by-law, or other aphorism to that effect and move on. But cram the
>> friggin' proselytising about how evil it is do this with walnuts.
> Nah, I'll talk about it here but thanks.

If you really must, then I suppose you must.  However, I'm curious as to 
why you feel this can't be resolved at the level of the individual 
hackerspaces through voting - I mean, it's not like this list is where 
the Mayor of the Hackerspaces will decree that you are absolutely 
correct and all hackerspaces must bow to your will in this matter.

- skroo.

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