[hackerspaces] In defense of Noisebridge (even if I was never there!)

matt matt at nycresistor.com
Thu Jul 3 19:52:57 CEST 2014

 I'd think this strikes to the heart of defining the mission of a space.
At NYC Resistor we went with Learn, Make, Share... but obviously we needed
to limit some other aspects of what we might accomplish in order to protect
the core mission.

And that core mission really is the gooey center of our community.  It's
something we're all on board with.

So I think the question of politically activism in hackerspaces strikes to
the very core of a hackerspace as a community.  By being political you've
become unwelcoming to those who might disagree with your views, and your
goals.  You've focused more on building the community you want to be a part

I'd say that's probably a good thing for those who are part of that
community and make that community a healthy one.

That being said, I think some communities are obviously toxic... such as
what remains of Occupy.  And frankly, I'd say the same of Indymedia.  It's
interesting as it drives to the core of how do you cultivate and how do you
define the metric of success for a healthy community?

At the same time there is the dichotomy of hackerspace as a public utility
rather than as a community.  My library is not a place I go to enjoy the
company of my peers.  It's a place I go to get access to shared knowledge
in the form of books.  And that's great.

Some spaces may want to be ran as a public utility.  I think the
noisebridge model drove that direction.  But some of the members never
could let go of the idea of being a community and enjoying the benefits of
that trust relationship.  They couldn't reconcile the divide between
hackerspace as a public utility and hackerspace as a community.

And I think at the core of this discussion is the question of whether or
not these two views are irreconcilable.

On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM, Randall G. Arnold <randall.arnold at texrat.net
> wrote:

>   Texas politics are very polarized these days and get ugly quick, so
> we've tried to get our community to leave that aspect of their lives at
> home.  There's a strong tea party undercurrent to our membership though,
> and it is what it is.  So far people have been respectful enough to let the
> provocative comments be, and we haven't had an issue.  Yet.
>  That said, I'm not sure how that question came out of what I posted,
> which was apolitical.  I do get that societal issues CAN get political, but
> we've put a lot of effort into avoiding the polarizing aspects.  Things
> like clean air and water aren't really political issues-- they're
> politicized by people with non-maker agendas.  Restoring horned lizards
> cuts across all demographics here-- everyone wants them brought back.  So
> in cases like these, it's easy to pull together people of diverse political
> leanings.  We put our focus on the COMMON goals.
>  Randy
>  Tarrant Makers
> On July 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM Al Billings <albill at openbuddha.com> wrote:
> Is your space welcoming to people, regardless of personal politics or do
> you have to be a specific kind of lefty/socialist/anarchist/hippy/whatever
> in order to be welcome?
>  I say this as a socialist but I don’t want there to be a political litmus
> test on whether people are welcome in a space. My space has members who,
> quietly on occasion, bitch about Obama and his “agenda” with an eye roll
> from some other members. We have a communist or two and probably more than
> a few anarchists. Generally, I know someone for a year or more before I
> even realize their personal politics. Why? Because we’re there to hack, not
> to form a political party.
>  There are definitely spaces where this isn’t the case. If you aren’t on
> board with the specific local politics (which are usually a certain
> specific form of left leaning anarchism), you are shunned pretty heavily
> and “don’t fit in.” I’d rather have a Republican that wants to build a
> project from salvaged computers than an anarchist that just wants to hang
> out in the kitchen “food hacking.”
>  Al
>  On Jul 3, 2014, at 10:28 AM, Randall G. Arnold <
> randall.arnold at texrat.net> wrote:
>  I disagree when you frame that as an absolute.  Sure, there CAN be
> negative outcomes when a maker/hacker space or organization has fixing
> societal problems as a goal, but it ain't necessarily so.  It all comes
> down to defining the goal(s), having people to support them and for members
> with different goals to be respectful of each other and not get in each
> other's way.
>  If as a makerspace member I put together a special interest group that
> builds remote wildlife monitoring stations for helping horned lizard
> conservation, and I don't disrupt anyone else in the process, then I'm
> positively hacking the planet and no one gets hurt.  Win-win.
>  Al Billings
> albill at openbuddha.com
> http://makehacklearn.org
>  Randall (Randy) Arnold
> Developer and Enthusiast Advocate
> http://texrat.net
> +18177396806
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