[hackerspaces] MAKErspace.com releases Playbook and updated Tools documents

Jerry Isdale isdale at gmail.com
Thu May 3 09:35:45 CEST 2012

Sean Bonner asked :
  "Is O'Reilly laying claim to the "Makerspace" term now? What I mean is, if
someone is setting up a space and has been calling it a Makerspace, should
they think of a new term so as not to run afoul of trademarks and whatnot?"

I have wondered the same thing myself and have asked them directly in the past. I did not get a satisfactory response, although I do believe Dale Dougherty and O'Reilly Media are strong supporters of a truly open maker community.

After a quick skim through other comments here on Discuss, I gave the Playbook a deeper skimming.  The way it is written now does sound rather exclusionary to me.  I posted the following comment on the makerspace.com blog post... Its a moderated site so we will need a day or so to see if they approve and reply.

This Playbook and the Tools & Materials are a excellent documents and I am very happy to see such early (preliminary) releases from your project.  I have shared links to this blog post to a number of places (eg. G+, FB, SpaceFactory and discuss at hackerspaces.)

One part that sticks out to me personally is that while you talk about community there is also an undertone of exclusion of spaces that are not DARPA/O'Reilly Sponsored MAKErspaces.  There are hundreds of spaces around the world that call themselves Makerspaces.  Only a very very small number are officially connected with the DARPA/O'Reilly/Otherlab project.   There should be some recognition of this larger community in the document.  The 'Connecting with other Makerspaces' section on pg 27 has not yet been written. It would be a good place to acknowledge the other Makerspaces and Hackerspaces and FabLabs (also Dorkbot, etc.)   Ch 7 Startup (pg 34) 'Get Listed' section should include joining other social networks - by listing on hackerspaces.org, etc.

The hackerspaces.org site, for listings and for the quite useful wiki (especially http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/Documentation ) would be a good Resource for the documents readers.

Many of the other makerspaces (and those that call themselves hackerspaces) are open to youth.  It is not clear if DARPA/O'Reilly MAKErspace.com is open to the community of older, hobbyist, entrepreneurial makers. (Note: it may not be possible for a school based makerspace to host such externals (non-students) as easily as non-affiliated spaces. I understand this has been an issue for some university/college based FabLabs and hackerspaces. The host entities have their rules and liabilities.)

I am a VERY STRONG believer in an open inclusive Maker community.  I believe O'Reilly is. My personal interactions with Dale lead me to believe he is a strong believer in this open community (evangelical even).  The Playbook should reflect this sentiment.

I understand it is aimed at the Middle/High School MAKErspace per the DARPA program (perhaps one of the deliverables specified in the SoW), however there should be a way to phrase things that are more inclusive of the wider community.

One big step would be to address the concern raised in the wider community about the term 'makerspace' itself.  The way it is used in this document makes it sound as if it is a very particular thing - one that 'require' a Makerspace to have/do specific things (eg pgs 42 & 46).  This sounds very much like a Trademark argument is being prepared for the term 'Makerspace'.

I asked once before and did not get a direct response. Others are now questioning this service/trade mark use of the term (http://lists.hackerspaces.org/pipermail/discuss/2012-May/005986.html) ....

Can you please state for the public record that O'Reilly (et al) will not ever try to restrict the term 'makerspace' ?

Thank you.... and keep up the good work!

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