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

Joe Bowser bowserj at gmail.com
Thu Jul 3 20:11:57 CEST 2014

On Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 10:45 AM, Colin Keigher
<general at keyboardcowboy.ca> wrote:
> No. My response should be misconstrued as this.
> Political affiliations should have no bearing on your being involved in a
> space--I am "centre-left" by Canadian standards (and probably "pinko-commie"
> by American) just to inform you. What should be a qualifier to your
> involvement in a space is laying out your intentions on why you want to be a
> member. If you're there to create and do cool shit, then you should be in;
> if you're there to further your personal, political agenda, you shouldn't.
> As long as you're not spreading hate and making others uncomfortable,
> politics should never play a role.


> VHS was asked by an IndyMedia clone to allow them to make use of the space
> to work on their productions. We collectively said "no" and the issue never
> came up again.

It was actually Vancouver Media Coop, and we didn't want them using
our space because we felt that they were too far outside our mandate,
and the person asking was actually refused a membership for personal
reasons.  There's nothing wrong with being political.  There is
something wrong with stealing the angle grinder so you can liberate a
locked bicycle, or coming in and claiming that you're going to hack
the skytrain.  Having been the member followed around by the RCMP, I
think we practiced more common sense and security culture and dealt
with the downsides of calling ourselves a hackerspace, which is the
police/activists/random asshole seeing how they can screw with you
during a world megaevent.  I'm sure if we called ourselves a
Makerspace, we would have probably not attracted that, but it would
have also been way less fun.

> We had to keep a neutral stance during the Olympics while
> many of our members were being followed by the RCMP and Vancouver Police due
> to their affiliation with anti-games groups. Keeping VHS politics-free has
> been policy since its inception six years ago and so far it has had success.
> We don't try to do anything more than provide a space to do and make cool
> shit.

The problem with Vancouver Hack Space was whether growth is good or
not.  At the start, it was very much like Noisebridge and more of the
non-maker,security oriented hacking did happen there.  Over time,
things change, and VHS went from a small group of guys who drank and
played with hardware to a larger space that caters to "Maker(TM)"
Culture, but couldn't have any security stuff happen because people
demand to know what project you're working on, and shun anything
remotely on the margins such as lockpicking (eg: 30 post thread about
whether lockpicks are legal in Canada).  IMO, I think the space will
die because the culture shift has made it boring and too risk-adverse
which I think is the opposite problem every other space could have.
Seriously, I can't even drop in and take a shit without being asked
what project I'm working on.

There has to be a happy medium between totally closed membership and
an open free-for-all space, I don't know what that is exactly.

More information about the Discuss mailing list