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In Praise of Hackerspaces

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the good-place-to-meet-the-batman dept.

Hardware Hacking 68

snydeq writes "Open centers of grassroots innovation, hackerspaces offer opportunities to source talent, create goodwill, and push technology forward, writes Open Software Integrators' Phil Rhodes. 'I had the good fortune to be able to attend Maker Faire North Carolina this weekend in Raleigh, N.C. ... At this local Maker Faire, I was struck by the number of hackerspaces represented. The energy, buzz, and activity around their booths was captivating,' Rhodes writes. 'Amid all this buzz, it dawned on me that everyone should be excited about hackerspaces and what they represent, both for their local communities and the world. Although the hackerspace movement is growing rapidly, many people are still not familiar with them, where they are located, or what they do. So let's examine the hackerspace world and explore why you should give a crap about it.'"

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Aren't these just workshops? (2, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44135977)

Both grandfathers had workshops, as does my dad, most of my uncles, many of my aunts, my father-in-law, and I have one as well. There were shops in junior high and high school to do woodworking, welding, automotive, jewelry, and even stained glass. The tools in our shops are certainly tailored to what we work on or what we think will be useful, but most shops have been very general-purpose; we could work on just about anything.

Can someone please explain to me this new fascination? I find it kind of insulting, this "discovery" of tinkering is like a shadow of Europe "discovering" the already-populated Americas. People have been building things for thousands of years in their workshops without this need to call them "makerspaces"... We don't do it because we expect it to be cool to others, we do it because we like it for ourselves.

This "maker" emphasis seems like a bunch of damn posers trying to establish and subsequently ruin a "scene"...

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136023)

These are workshops but with a twist:

(1) Everything (or nearly) has some tie-in to technology, be it a 3D printer, a CNC mill, or what have you. It's not limited to woodworking or one type of material like a lot of shops are.
(2) This is a self-run community, not just a workshop

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44136227)

My maternal grandfather's shop wasn't single-purpose. He was a machinist that kept the manufacturing equipment at a Whirlpool plant running, and at home he tinkered with machines, cars, wood, etc. He hadn't gotten into electronics, but that's because that was in its infancy comparatively.

My friends come over and we work on stuff, sometimes my stuff, sometimes their stuff, and that varies in type as well. I've assembled automotive engines from parts and I build model rockets and rebuild automatic transmissions, and repair computers on the same workbenches, depending on what I want or need to do at any given time. Some day we'll get back to assembling that trebuchet.

As to technology itself, it's all technology. Even hand planes and manual augers are technology. They're not new technology, but they still qualify for the term.

I guess I look at the presence of a very expensive piece of machinery that probably isn't used to its intended duty cycle or complexity as a bit of a waste, as something there for show, rather than for real productivity. It's there because it's trendy, not because its use is well understood.

Re: Aren't these just workshops? (4, Insightful) (660144) | about a year ago | (#44137165)

So because you can afford a well equipped shop and already know how to use the tools other people shouldn't try and find ways to share the costs and help each other lean the skills?

Re: Aren't these just workshops? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44144385)

No, people shouldn't overinflate their own importance or ability or most importantly, results.

Re: Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44151165)

If you want to talk about results, a lot of startups like Makerbot and a ton of open source projects, like the Byzantine project are born out of hackerspaces. In many cases they are used for a short period of time as a colocation facility for a new business for a few months until it can get off the ground.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#44142025)

I seem to hear a note of superiority. "I've been doing this all my life, and now people are suddenly doing it, and calling it by a new name."

So - why not find a hackerspace, and SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE?!?!?! With the set of skills that you seem to suggest that you have, you could be quite the popular go-to guy. And, funny thing about teaching - you also get the chance to learn stuff that you never realized you DIDN'T KNOW!

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (3, Insightful)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44136345)

And regular vertical mills or such 40 years ago somehow weren't technology? And green sand casting wasn't either?

And the amateur radio clubs were somehow not self run communities?

And the plans published in Radio Electronics, Home Shop Machinist and other such magazines weren't "open source" enough somehow?

It's interesting, it's great that it's getting the fix it or modify it yourself idea out to some people who might not otherwise have it, but it's not new.

I grew up in a neighborhood with multiple "makerspaces". They were Bill's amateur radio workbench where he built his own gear. Freddie's workshop where he built his own grinder and other power tools. Donald Vern's shop where he built midget cars to race. And Danner's auto upholstery shop where he did the interiors for his show cars.

And that was just within half a block of my house.

As I said, wonderful to be teaching people this, but it's not new or revolutionary.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | about a year ago | (#44137119)


Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44137447)

Ok, I'll bite, Billy. What do you think I'm so totally missing about this that makes it all new and revolutionary?

If it really is going to Change The World (tm). I'd love to understand it.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (2)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44137927)

Ok, I'll bite back, it's the first sentence. See above:

These are workshops but with a twist:

They ARE workshops. They don't have to be new and revolutionary to be worthy of praise. Indeed, Bill and Freddie and Donald and Danner sound like awesome guys. And even though their daddies didn't have power tools, radio, or autos to put upholstery in, it doesn't make them any less awesome.

And workshop collaborative have been around since before Bill and Freddie. The new batch simply has a twist that they're often have more programmers. Much like the last generations of geeks had radios. The whole "community run" thing adds a dash of free and open culture to the mix.

Oh, and those radios DID change the world. Call up Bill and tell him "thank you".

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44138921)

We seem to be in violent agreement. ;)

Actually, I just walk across the street and talk to Bill (I moved back to the house I grew up in.). The rest have moved or are long since passed away.

Sadly, Bill has Alzheimers and it's taken a toll. Kind of hard to see him that way, but we've all got it (or something) coming, I guess. He sure helped get a number of us started in ham radio and auto work.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136131)

Can someone please explain to me this new fascination?

They're using the trendy buzzwords.

There is a very real trend that modern cultures seem to rediscover things about every 20-40 years. They are completely enthralled by it, and tend to ignore the elders saying "Yeah, you'll grow out of that in 5 years, like I did. Not something similar, exactly that." To which the youngers will loudly and profanely insists that this New Thing is completely unlike that Old Thing despite all the evidence that they are infact the same thing.

It is for that reason that I have a warehouse full of parachute pants and mood-rings.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (3, Funny)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44136279)

It is for that reason that I have a warehouse full of parachute pants and mood-rings.

Parachute Pants, for when you absolutely, positively need to shop lift that car battery...

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44136319)

Yes, because fashion is exactly the same as designing and crafting.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136187)

Yes but no but yes but no but...

Yes, it's "just a workshop", except:
- They typically have expensive high-end prototyping equipment (industrial laser cutters, 3d printers, etc)
- There are people there who can operate this equipment, and help others to do so too
- They provide much more space than most people can afford in an urban environment
- There is a great spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (2)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44136313)

Do these laser cutters and 3d printers result in a finished product that's any better than I can make with a crappy drill press?

To my view, it's bunch of amateurs that think they're pros. In reality, that smelly guy with the portable welder and a hatchback full of scraps of metal stock who field-repairs trash compactors produces better results...

Douglas Adams really was right about human nature in his concept of the B-Ark...

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136997)

In the hands of people who know what they are doing? Absolutely

One of the benifits of these spaces is that there are people who know how to make these devices work amazingly well, and everyone else. The beauty is the god forbid, community aspect where people have a space where others will show them how to make stuff, and make it well. Like for instance, we have a ShopBot down at the hackerspace I'm a member of. I have never used one before, but there are quite a few who have. My goal is in the next couple weeks to get up to speed, build out a bunch of projects other members can download, plug into the machine, and have some really nice furniture cut from sheets of plywood. After that, I'm moving onto the laser cutter to do the same thing with other items.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44136285)

It's different from a workshop in that it's also a community. People teach to make, people loan tools to each other, people show off creations. I spent about a year as a member of a hackerspace, then I moved somewhere that became less feasible. In that time, I saw some really cool technologies people had made, helped teach people a bit about writing processing code for graphics cards without using CUDA, and made use of their tech-book library.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44136431)

My friends are my community, we don't feel a need to rent space or pay membership dues, we help each other because we're friends. If someone needs to cut steel, the guy with the portable plasma cutter comes over because it's fun, not because he's being paid to provide plasma cutting services. The biggest 'payment' is whoever is being helped provides the pizza or beer or the like.

Come to think of it, the only semiformally-established club that I'm in has dues of $15 per year, and those dues are basically there to pay for food and party supplies. We just are friends that meet at each others' houses.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

PlastikMissle (2498382) | about a year ago | (#44136505)

But what if I don't have a friend with a plasma cutter? What if I don't have friends who are interested in tinkering at all?

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136699)

Get better friends, or at least more interesting ones.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136893) your local hackerspace!

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44136605)

Yeah, and you don't need coworkers either, because you have friends, right? I didn't say it had anything to do with a spirit of camaraderie, it's a matter of practicality. You can learn more, do more, and achieve things, if you can share utility. Not everyone you do that with is, strictly speaking, a friend.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44136581)

"It's different from a workshop in that it's also a community"

And Twin City Amateur Radio Club somehow wasn't a community? Sure looked like it with the older hams teaching the younger ones (including kids).

When someone had a tower to put up, you'd get a bunch of people to come over and bring the djin pole and other tools with them.

Sure wasn't limited to just electronics and radio, either. They were (and still are, even though some are in their 80s now) the general purpose geeks of that time.

People have been doing this sort of ground up small group cooperation and creativity for as long as there have been people.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44136741)

I didn't say that. Why would you assume I meant that? I just said they weren't exactly the same as workshops, the contention of the GP.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44137683)

I probably read too much into your words.

Some of the other responders have taken more of the view that this is new and revolutionary in some way.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

fldsofglry (2754803) | about a year ago | (#44136731)

You are correct in that these are just workshops. Most of these hackerspaces are close to/in cities where many of the members live in apartments with no space for a workshop. Some members are college students who move back home for the summer. One advantage of these workshops is that the group as a whole are able to purchase large items that no one member could afford (think of it like tool sharing). A hackerspace by me has a laser engraver, for instances. It must be nice to look back at your family who all seem to have a workshop. Unfortunately, expectations and behaviors change. Many younger folks move around a lot more, so purchasing equipment for a shop can be a hassle as you have to move it. Many years ago almost every high school had a shop and taught woodshop or mechnical trades or what have you. I am sorry to say that this isn't the case anymore. Budget cuts wreak havoc on those kinds of niceties. -- patiently waiting for your "get off my lawn" response

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

deimtee (762122) | about a year ago | (#44137421)

It wasn't budget cuts that got rid of woodshop and metalwork classes, it was the combination of legal liability and feminism.
- Little Jimmy cuts his finger on a chisel, mummy and daddy to sue the school.
- Woodwork and metalwork are mainly of interest to boys and are therefore sexist. They should learn "home economics" instead.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44140371)

It wasn't budget cuts that got rid of woodshop and metalwork classes, it was the combination of legal liability and feminism.
- Little Jimmy cuts his finger on a chisel, mummy and daddy to sue the school.
  - Woodwork and metalwork are mainly of interest to boys and are therefore sexist. They should learn "home economics" instead.

Those so called "Feminists" should just stop being so sexist and take the damn woodwork and metalwork classes.

Though I agree with you fully on the liability part.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44157683)

I'm commenting a while after the fact here, but I can't just let this ignorant statement lie. I'm a woman, and I had the option to take home economics and shop classes when I was in junior high school and high school in the early 1980's. I chose to take shop, because I had already learned how to do all of the sewing/home economics stuff by helping out at home.

Shop classes eventually were phased out at my old schools due to increased focus on "core curriculum" and college preparation. It's unfortunate.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#44136927)

AC just below got it: it's a community workshop which sets it apart from previous endowments of the word.

It's a community workshop (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year ago | (#44136963)

I have my workshop ... but if I need to deal with large sheet goods, I have to move things to the driveway.

As I understand it, these are basically like the wood working / metal working / automotive / electronics shops from high school, but either as a cooperative or a commercial enterprise renting access.

There have been artist co-ops for years -- pottery's a big one as it's difficult for someone to do as a hobby individually with the need for a kiln, etc. For soft goods, there are quilting bees and knitting circles ... some held within fabric stores.

So you're right ... the basic idea isn't new. Even the business model isn't new -- military bases have had places to work on your car or do arts projects for decades. I'm guessing other groups have been doing it as well, it just wasn't publicized like it is now.

I suspect there are a few things driving this new push:

  1. the trend towards higher density housing means people don't have space for setting up their own workshops
  2. we've moved away from our parents and grandparents and can't go borrow their space for a weekend.
  3. most people don't have the discressionary income to set up a well-equiped shop on their own.
  4. because so many people haven't been taught proper woodworking and machining, they don't know how to make things without CNC or 3d printers.
  5. people assume that things they haven't heard about before are new

All that being said, I'm okay with it -- I'd happily give my tools for membership in a co-op, so that when I want to make something, I can drive there and get it done without having to wait for a dry day, move the stuff out of my garage, etc. I've even thought about taking classes at the local community college if it meant I could use their equipment.

Re:It's a community workshop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44137603)

This is the right answer for the most part. Hackerspaces are about community. But its not merely about people who don't live in a place where they can set up a work shop or about people who can't make anything without CNC or 3D printer.

The community is primary tool in a hackerspace. Not the laser cutter, not the 3d printer, not the CNC milling machine. It is the community.

In your home workshop, you not can simply turn to someone and get an impromptu lesson on a new making technique that you've never tried out before. Its just you there. You can hit the web and get fourteen bazillion examples, but it can take a while to figure out which techniques are crap and which ones are not. And if it doesn't go as expected it is a lot harder to ask what happened. In a hackerspace someone can stand right next to, see what you are doing, and get you back on track.

Re:It's a community workshop (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44137655)

Indeed. There have been ad hoc (and not so ad hoc, like American Assn. of Woodturners) craft and diy clubs for some time. ABANA and others have been teaching blacksmithing for a good while under this sort of model. 4H used to organize training of this type for kids when I was a younger.

The only difference is it's using the methods and technologies of today. Just like the old ones used the methods and technologies of that time.

I'm glad that it's currently catching on again. Hopefully the liability issues can be handled.

Starting up a shared interest organization is easy. Making it last a long time is a lot harder.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#44137163)

Both grandfathers had workshops, as does my dad, most of my uncles, many of my aunts, my father-in-law, and I have one as well.

Home workshops are just like home gyms and personal swimming pools. They're good to have for you, your family, and the people you invite to, but there is still a need for public swimming pools and gyms that people can use in exchange for a reasonable fee.

There were shops in junior high and high school to do woodworking, welding, automotive, jewelry, and even stained glass.

May be that's the problem. In my high school, the wood workshop was a joke and we didn't have any other workshop available to us. My high school emphasized University admission and Advanced Placement classes over anything that could tangentially apply to learning a trade. We had a computer lab, but our teacher was not qualified to teach us on that subject.

Not that I wanted to learn a trade, but it would have been nice if they had taught us to fix a broken toilet, change the oil of a car, or some practical skill for daily life (let alone real woodworking, welding, automotive, jewelry, or stained glass).

Nowadays, if you want your kid to learn some of these skills, you'll have to teach them yourself and buy all the necessary tools yourself, or take them to one of these specialized Hackerspace/Techshop/Crucible spaces instead. Those community spaces are just filling some of the gaps left by our current school system, and it's good that parents learn about them.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year ago | (#44137195)

I agree completely. The term "maker" makes my skin crawl. Aren't we special.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44137795)

Better than the brain-dead consumers that go home and watch TV for 4 hours until bedtime.

There's actually a bit of a schism at our space. Most of them want to use the term "makerspace" simply to get away from the term "hackerspace". Not that there's supposed to be anything wrong with being a hacker... but there is. While the "maker movement" is kind of a push against the throw away consumer culture that has developed in the USA, some fights aren't worth it. "Hackerspaces" simply bring up too many awkward explanations.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141225)

Bless the Maker and all His Water. Bless the coming and going of Him, May His passing cleanse the world. May He keep the world for his people.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44137423)

I grew up on a farm with metalworking and woodworking equipment, and I'm a member of the local hackerspace. The significant difference between the two is the collaborative community and mindshare. Go hang out at a hackerspace for a while you'll quickly figure out why it is such a hotbed of innovation. A workshop enables innovation but a hackerspace creates it.

Re:LOL Your argument shows the lack of understandi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44138541)

LOL Your argument shows the lack of understanding about Hackerspaces:

Before you start berating them, maybe you should spend some time
going to you local "Makerspace" or "Hackerspace" and "discover"
that it is interesting, fun, educational, interactive and rewarding.
I understand that is not the way your grandfather, your dad, your uncle,
your aunts or father-in-law have done it but i bet that if anyone of
them had the chance to work with like minded people to learn or
teach skills they would have jumped at that chance. But i understand
the word "Hackerspace" is hard to except, why don't you just think
of them as "workshops" with a lot more to offer.
Maybe its time for you to look around and realize that high schools
don't offer those classes you mentioned, for some time now. This idea
that your "workshop" has everything you will ever need and you may
have been born with innate "workshop" skills, the vast majority of people
have not and are thankful there are people out there that would be
Interested in sharing and education other for the joy of it.
Do you find that in your "workshop"?

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about a year ago | (#44141005)

I agree to a big extent to what you said. Actually, for a long time, my father's garage had better tools than my local hackerspace. Then, their community grw and they now have a big-ass CNCs, several 3D printers and a nice laser cuter.

I think that the main difference is the idea of sharing designs and making open hardware. When my grandfather repaired a pump with a nifty trick and two screws, he did it once, never told to anyone. Now when a member in a hackerspace unbricks an obscure flashable wifi router to make a pirate box, he publishes the howto on internet.

There is also the thing about being located inside cities. Having a spare room for tools is common in the countryside, but in cities, it is harder to do. But cities are also the place where you are the most likely to find kindred spirits.

Makerspaces do not come from nowhere, there is a long tradition of shared workshops in the past, it is just a meaningful evolution of the concept when they are networked through internet and share some values.

These are "21st Century" workshops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44141183)

Subtle difference, perhaps, but the internet has changed everything. It's already changed shopping, communication, education, entertainment, politics even, and it's certainly changing manufacturing as well.

Traditional workshops of all varieties were localised. Hackerspaces are networked, collaborating with each other, learning from each other, inspiring each other. And this is happening far faster than it could ever have done so in the past.

The term "maker movement" is very apt. It is a movement, not a club.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (1)

mj24 (143239) | about a year ago | (#44143999)

Two things:

1) An accumulation of best practices that the Internet provides,
2) An ability to go from idea to prototype in a short time with low cost/effort.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44151135)

Yes, they are by definition community workshops. So what you ask?

Imagine you live in a city, and you have a one-two bedroom apartment? Where do you put the workshop? Where do you store the plethora of tools you acquire in your projects, some that you may only use once or twice? How do you have a workspace and storage in NYC, Boston, SF, or some place where real estate is at a premium, how do you afford that?

You want to work on a project, but don't feel your project by itself warrants the purchase of a laser cutter or CNC, where do you borrow one from?

Where can you go to get advice on a project that is a little more in depth then an Internet forum, where a real live person? Radio Shack? The best they might do is try and sell you on a new cell phone plan? The hardware store? Good luck asking him about how to get the robotic arm on the mechanical gizmo you're making to work right with your Arduino. What if your project you're working on requires multiple areas of expertise or collaboration? If you do it out of your garage, and you know something about programming and even carpentry, can your neighbor down the street come over and help you with the microelectronics or design a custom 3D printed part?

No, its not new, the culture behind hackerspaces go all the way back to the MIT Model Railroad Club and Homebrew Computer club the only thing new is combining people with completely different skillsets, woodworking, metalworking, programming, microelectronics, beer brewing, etc. Into one space to come up with The actual hackerspace movement came out of Europe, where you had a dedicated space for technologists to work on projects. Makerspaces are similar but not part of the same original movement, but its the same thing a place where a community of people with similar interests but maybe different skillsets to come together, share ideas, share tools, space, costs, and collaborate.

Re:Aren't these just workshops? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44151151)

Another incomplete but somewhat effective analogy, is they are like gym's for geeks. Rather then buying your own exercise expensive equipment and setting up a home gym, which you may not have space for, you pay a monthly fee to share exercise equipment and have access to personal trainers and talk with other fitness enthusiasts, take fitness classes etc. Sure you can have your own gym, but not everyone can afford it or is prepared to do it on their own.

liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136105)

machining and physical fabrication tools, including drill presses, band saws, grinders, CNC mills, CNC lathes, 3D printers, and related goods

I like the idea of hackerspaces but I am just wondering about liability. What happens when some hacker ends up in medicalspace (the ER) and then takes you to lawyerspace?

Re:liability (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44136347)

I hadn't thought of that...

I wonder if the "Sawstop" concept in a table saw has been applied to other power tools yet or not...

Re:liability (1)

interiot (50685) | about a year ago | (#44136373)

I can only speak to how my local hackerspace [] handles it, I don't know how others do.

At this one, most power tools are owned by individual members. If someone gets hurt and wants to sue someone, the only person they can sue is the individual owner. On one hand, this sucks because it puts all the burden on individuals' shoulders. On the other hand, it decreases the chance that someone tries to pay legal fees from prospective damage awards, because damages are likely to be very small, so it reduces the chance someone will lawyer up.

Our hackerspace hasn't had any incidents yet, so I don't know how well this plays out in practice.

Re:liability (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | about a year ago | (#44137303)

PS:1 as an organization has liability insurance, and we require members and visitors to sign a liability waiver before entering the space. Only members are allowed to operate equipment, additionally the must have been certified on equipment that requires it.

We're also working on a set of interlocks tied into our membership system to ensure that only certified persons are able to operate the tools that represent hazards to the untrained. We're also always looking for ways to make the space safer, more useful for our members, and above all, more awesome.

Re:liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44140517)

We're also always looking for ways to make the space safer, more useful for our members, and above all, more awesome.

And to make more money by ensuring the space is useless for non-members.

Nice 'community' you have there.

Re:liability (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | about a year ago | (#44142979)

And to make more money by ensuring the space is useless for non-members.

Nice 'community' you have there.

PS:1 has a very nice community, thank you very much. You can learn almost anything if you ask around a bit, and get help on your projects from a number of sources.

As for the dues: People who have no stake in things won't respect the space, and will mine it for resources, leaving us with a pile of broken stuff. We're in an urban area, and it costs quite a bit just to keep the lights on, and the building warm, not to mention the rent. We're not in it for the money, but it all costs money to maintain the status quo.

Re:liability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44137717)

Liability is simple. You are liable for what you do in the space. Unfortunately, that really doesn't pass legal muster and we sure don't have enough money for a lawyer so anyone could sue us for anything.

But yeah, as a small business, even a non-profit, our hackerspace is one legal suit away from dissolution. We have no real funds, and most of our stuff isn't worth much if you tried to sell it. So, in that aspect, we're unsueable as we're dirt poor. Still, we'd lose maybe a few thousand in cash, all the gear, and probably get kicked out of the space. But all the people are still there and we'd form another one.

We have no insurance and none of our gear is under warranty. We used to have fire insurance, until they took a look at the place.

Give a child a soldering iron and everyone loses their minds...

And why should we care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136157)

People tinker, great. Without money, that tinkering has gone nowhere. All hackerspaces have done is give money to landlords and fund toolmakers.

Re: And why should we care? (1)

smaddox (928261) | about a year ago | (#44136941)

Makerbot was started in a hacker space.

Re: And why should we care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44139211)

Looks like you're agreeing with him.

Hackerspace hype (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44136195)

I've been a TechShop member for years. I've been a member of Hacker Dojo. I've visited Noisebridge.

These places are fun, but they're not changing the world. It's good to have more people using tools. But the work there isn't that impressive.

TechShop is basically a workshop. Lots of people make furniture, repair their bikes, or build some cool toy. It's not a startup incubator. There are startups who send their people to Techshop to use the machines, but they're not based at TechShop. Most of the people programming Ardunos are just making lights blink. There are robots, but they're at the FIRST level, not anything cutting-edge. (The Willow Robotics people, who do cutting-edge work, do stop by now and then.)

Hacker Dojo is more of a shared business workspace. People work there. Some rent office space, others just bring laptops. Hacker Dojo's main resource is tables, power outlets, and good WiFi bandwidth. And vending machines. They do have a small machine shop, though.

Re:Hackerspace hype (2)

expatriot (903070) | about a year ago | (#44137361)

Remember all the fuss about whether you could change the batteries in phones? The direction of modern manufacturing is towards things that you cannot practically build or repair yourself.

Some of the things done in hacker spaces (or described in Make magazine) do seem very kitsch (as in the finished result is not worth the material and time put into it) but that is not the point.

People are making and repairing things.

What is the point of Raspberry Pi? Not a very good computer. What is the point of writing your own code for a personal project? Probably not going to make much money off it. Why paint a picture? Not going to be in a museum

People learn something and they have satisfaction in what they produced.

Re:Hackerspace hype (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#44137761)

Yeah yeah, 90% of everything is crap. [] Most of it is entry level beginner stuff. Most of it is LEDs blinking. Most of everything is crap.

But where the hell do you think those guys at Willow Robotics started?

Re:Hackerspace hype (1)

TheSync (5291) | about a year ago | (#44140177)

My experience with Crash Space [] in LA has been that it has created a whole bunch of new stuff:

FlipBookKit [] , a Kickstarter-funded project, started there.

The bGeigie nano [] radiation detector (a part of Safecast.Org [] ) was developed there, as well as products from ThingM [] such as the "blink(1)" USB-connected programmable status LED and the "blinkm" programmable smart 3-color LEDs.

Members of Crash Space have also shown up on TV shows such as Unchained Reaction [] .

Crash Space has several folks whose full-time job is working on various tech projects.

Maybe I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44136769)

I went to a local one here in KC, nice people but just didn't seem all that amazing to me. They offered access to some tools I don't own myself, and a mixture of knowledable people, but I just felt out of place.

Re:Maybe I missed something (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44139023)

If you're talking about Hammerspace, I had the exact same impression when I was there in April. Nice people - great people even. A workshop that, on the whole, isn't as good as what's in my garage. A couple nice tools that I don't have, but they're tucked away in a back room. No real clear "here's what you need to do to learn to use them" or even "here's who you need to talk to to use them" since there seems to be a mix of the space's tools, and a few that apparently belong to someone(s) else trying to make a separate business out of them.

Also a somewhat disturbing attitude towards safety.

The place is promising, but it isn't "there" yet.

Build 21000 flexible fabrication facilities (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#44137821)

My post 3 years ago: []
"Why Is This Idea Important?: This project is essential to US national security, to provide a technologically literate populace who has learned about post-scarcity technology in a hands-on way. The greatest challenge our society faces right now is post-scarcity technology (like robots, AI, nanotech, biotech, etc.) in the hands of people still obsessed with fighting over scarcity (whether in big organizations or in small groups). This project would help educate our entire society about the potential of these technologies to produce abundance for all. So, why 21,000 flexible fabrication facilities across the USA at a cost of US$50 billion? To understand that, consider a few historical trends. ..."

Too bad the opengov software munged the formatting.

Also mentioned here: []!msg/openmanufacturing/sAqgfZ9291A/ZQKlJXBNIAcJ []

Not Just a Workshop (2)

Narmacil (1189367) | about a year ago | (#44137961)

The difference between a hackerspace and a workshop is huge. The key difference is the community, it doesn't belong to anybody so anything goes, it's like hippie commune meets workshop meets research lab minus the proposals and endless journal paper spewing. It's not so much about making the tools available (like techshop does), but more about building a group of engineers, tinkerers, and technodweebs to hang out with after work is over.

  Yeah there's a weird maker movement thing that people are pushing along side it, but hackerspaces are a place to hack, a place to figure out why you keep getting that "the printer is on fire" message. A place to admonish the newbs who tell repost jokes from reddit. You can get a project done alot faster when the guy next to you working on the ARM based LED vest can email you instructions on how that quadrature encoder you found in the drawer in the back outputs grey code in 5 minutes instead of spending half a day online looking for just the right answer.

I'm super glad I found Crashspace in LA, it's like my in person version of slashdot, and I'm living the technodream :D

I was so excited when I read the headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44138305)

Then I realised "hackerspace" has nothing to do with 'hackers' putting satellites into space to create their own internet.

Re:I was so excited when I read the headline (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | about a year ago | (#44162251)

I think it's page two where the mention this as one sub-groups Big Hairy Audatious Goals... so you wouldn't be as disapointed if you'd RTFA!

Just too expensive (1)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | about a year ago | (#44140543)

My 'local' hackerspace ( in a town about 10 miles away ) is expensive; basic membership [] is 25 UKP per month just to enter the place. And that doesn't cover costs of events or projects.

Hackerspaces might be good value for a student who could call in every evening, but for middle-age wage slaves who could avail once or twice a month it's uneconomic. But perhaps we're not their target demographic.

Hackerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177395)

I've got my "hackerspace" 10 inches from my hands, I call them "computers and hardware". Seriously, nothing good has come out of this makerplaces, they are just some hipsterspace (term not coined by me), more like a bunch of petit bourgeois kids playing cubes with leds and learning what a fucking transistor is.

Hackerspaces nowdays are more like pubs with Internet.

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