[hackerspaces] DARPA Selects Hackerspace Space Program for contract negotiation

Marc Juul juul at labitat.dk
Tue Apr 3 22:43:02 CEST 2012

On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 4:31 PM, Jerry Isdale <isdale at gmail.com> wrote:
> My Fellow Hackers...
> Today I got an email from DARPA stating that they have selected our
> "Hackerspace Space Program" for contract negotiation.

Interesting / Congratulations? What does that mean exactly? How
certain is it that you will get funding?

> Those who want to flame about taking government money can do so.. We just
> wont pass any $ your way.

While I am very happy to see more interest / funding for space-related
hacker activities I think there are some important issues here that
you may be ignoring. One is that by calling yourselves the
"hackerspace space program" you are associating hackers, the
hackerspace movement and specifically everyone working on
space-related projects in hackerspaces with DARPA and the military.
Knowing that there are many who are strongly anti-military, it would
make sense to call name this project something else, perhaps something
less general?

This is not just government, this is military funding. That is an
important distinction for many.

If is of course your decision who you fund, but starting out by
calling any criticism of your decision to apply for military funding
using the hackerspace name "flaming" seems itself fairly inflammatory.
The term hacker is for many associated with a strong sense of ethics,
and it is always a good idea to be mindful of the people who disagree
with your actions on ethical grounds, even if you end up not acting on
their criticism.

As you are obviously aware there are people who will be unwilling to
work with you on this project once you accept this funding. I wonder
if you have done any research to estimate the loss in expertise,
manpower and ideas, or how much of a rift this will cause in the
hacker/maker community?

This news comes close to the news that the Maker Faire has accepted
DARPA funding, so when I mention a rift in the community it may be
bigger than just this one project.

For those who are suspicious of military involvement but not outright
unwilling to work with a DARPA funded project, it would be really
useful to have a summary of the extent and terms of this project and
funding: What are the strings attached from DARPA? Are there any
countries you will not be allowed to work with and do any of them have
DIY space groups or hackerspaces that will be excluded? Will you own
the copyright to anything copyright'able you produce and will you
control licensing / patenting? Where is the project description (can
we read the proposal you sent to DARPA)? Who will control the funding
and how will it be divided between project participants?  How much
funding did you apply for and how certain are you that you will get
it? Who are involved with this project already?

Marc Juul

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