[hackerspaces] understaing some hackerspace history

dosman dosman at packetsniffers.org
Thu Sep 7 01:50:23 CEST 2023

I glossed over the paper referenced earlier: http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-2/peer-reviewed-papers/hacklabs-and-hackerspaces/

It seems like a reasonable history of things. Focusing on question 1 for the US side of the pond though, for the divergence of Makerspaces and Hackerspaces I’d add this. I remember the very first season of Make Magazine was really the best of 2600 for the past several years. It seemed like dozens of the most interesting hardware hack articles of 2600 were re-written and submitted for the full-color format and possibly in a more lighthearted tone to fit the more family-oriented theme of Make. Another thing happening in parallel was the TV show Mythbusters launched in 2003 and was in its hay-day by 2006 when Make launched, plus the junction of Robot Wars which was also in its prime. Myself and other founding members of our space were very interested in both robotics and hacking as expressions of abusing materials to do interesting and novel things in a very general sense. Our space had a focus on robotics early on which seemed like a good combination of coding and hardware that we could support, we started forming in 2009 and were official by 2010. So we focused on electronics and hardware (PCB etching and drilling, and actuators - robot limbs). However the shop tools are general purpose tools which attracted non-robotics uses and we were fine with that as it helped us gain members and momentum. I think I added our first scope by 2011 by finding a good deal on a used one, and we always had soldering irons of course. At some point we even got a reflow oven, but it’s only gotten limited use. As we grew and could support individual workshops areas we eventually spawned a separate electronics/radio lab, wood shop, auto-bay, and metal shop areas. I started teaching machining classes because you need to know how to run a lathe and mill to make metal robot parts, plus it’s good for making interesting lockpicking tools. After a decade+ our wood shop/auto bay is the highest used area of our space and not much in the way of robotics activity takes place as far as I’m aware (there is still electronics work that happens though). Yet somehow we do still attract a small core group of well-intentioned members with the devious hacker mindset.

Another component happening is that I recall a lot of hacker parents were drawn to our space just because STEM/STEAM was the nearest adjacent field to hacking that was available to get their kids involved in before their kids were able to work with software. We also got into workshops to spread knowledge on topics members were interested in teaching which varied wildly. We had very successful soldering classes, how-to-sysadmin, running mail servers, etc. But welding, running the laser cutter, 3D printer, etc. seems to be in higher demand and since we could support those and that drove some focus there and to other “workshop areas". So all of these things seemed to help steer us slightly away from a L0pht type space and towards the “makerspace” environment.

So in short, for us at least, the woodshop and metalshop pay the bills to keep the electronics lab and hackerspace-spirit flame alive.


> On Sep 2, 2023, at 5:36 PM, Nathaniel Bezanson <myself at telcodata.us> wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm putting together a presentation to welcome i3Detroit's new members and explain some deeper background of the larger phenomenon that they're now part of -- I've come to understand that quite a few folks don't realize the *kerspace thing goes back decades at this point. And as I put together the story, I have a few gaps myself:
> 1: All the early material I can find (HOPE 2004 Building Hackerspaces talk, for instance, or Spacerogue's book) talks about hackerspaces as places with computers and maybe soldering equipment. When and where did the expansion to more tools take place? What spaces were some of the earliest to add oscilloscopes, for instance? How about non-electronics-related tools like woodworking or welding? (I'm not trying to establish "the first" of anything, but understand when the shift took hold.)
> 2: In the recent Hackaday podcast https://hackaday.com/2023/08/25/hackaday-podcast-233-chandrayaan-on-the-moon-cyberdecks-hackerspaces-born-at-a-german-computer-camp/ <https://hackaday.com/2023/08/25/hackaday-podcast-233-chandrayaan-on-the-moon-cyberdecks-hackerspaces-born-at-a-german-computer-camp/> around the 39m30s mark, Jens mentions a move by then-East-Germany to allocate a fraction of state-owned buildings to culture, before turning everything loose in a market economy, as the reason C-base exists how and where it does. Where can I learn more about this legislation/allocation? How did the timing work? That would've been a 1989/1990 thing, but C-base gives its founding date as 1995.
> If there are other good overview resources that go over the pre-2009 (I think the Wired article marks an epoch) history, I'm all ears for those as well. I ran across Monochrom's "hacking the spaces" but it's a little light on details.
> Thanks in advance,
> -Nate-
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