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

Colin Keigher general at keyboardcowboy.ca
Thu Jul 3 20:19:16 CEST 2014

Please stop calling it "civic hacking". It's called "activism" and it 
has no business in the hackerspace movement.

On 03/07/2014 11:15, Randall G. Arnold wrote:
> So Colin, are you then philosophically opposed to civic hacking?  Do 
> you see it as out of scope for a maker/hacker space?  If so, do you 
> have an alternative in mind for an organizing body?  Truly curious.
> Randy
>> On July 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM Colin Keigher <general at keyboardcowboy.ca> 
>> wrote:
>> I think that allowing a space to call itself a "hackerspace" while 
>> trying to become something more poisons the movement for everyone 
>> else and likely ruins it.
>> Groups like IndyMedia failed because of their insistence on promoting 
>> a viewpoint that was extreme. This viewpoint ended up coming into 
>> play because of individuals who got involved who had certain 
>> attitudes. It is these same types of individuals who contributed to 
>> IMCs being looked down upon. Tragedy of the commons really played a 
>> role in making IndyMedia irrelevant.
>> This same plague that took down many of the IMCs is the same plague 
>> that can take over a hackerspace. This is the plague you want to 
>> avoid if you want to make sure that your space does not end up trying 
>> to become something it has no business becoming. Much of the problems 
>> that people want to tackle that spaces have no business being a part 
>> of should be addressed in the public sphere through government and 
>> political activism. A hackerspace should only be there to provide 
>> tools to assist, not solutions.
>> Asking for diversity in hackerspaces as a whole is going to lead to 
>> hackerspaces being looked down upon and will lead to 
>> Noisebridge-esque jokes being hackerspace-esque instead.
>> - Colin
>> On 03/07/2014 10:52, matt wrote:
>>> 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 of.
>>> 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 <mailto: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
>>>>     <mailto: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 <mailto: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 <mailto:albill at openbuddha.com>
>>>>     http://makehacklearn.org
>>>     Randall (Randy) Arnold
>>>     Developer and Enthusiast Advocate
>>>     http://texrat.net
>>>     +18177396806 <tel:%2B18177396806>
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