[Gllug] HackerSpace

general_email at technicalbloke.com general_email at technicalbloke.com
Thu Dec 10 22:09:17 UTC 2009

Andrew Back wrote:
> On (11:06 10/12/09), general_email at technicalbloke.com wrote:
> <<SNIP>>
>> Having seen hackspaces in both London (non-commercial style) and New
>> York (commercial style) I really don't think the former even begin to
>> compare. The London hackspace was a room in a cold squat with about 20
>> junk computers, some perpetually unfulfilled plans and very little else,
>> the one in NY (NYC resistor) is a beautiful vibrant space with a huge
>> array of cool tools, events and visiting teachers, speakers and classes.
>> Sadly there weren't that many free classes and events but at the end of
>> the day stuff costs money and doesn't tend to happen without it. I don't
>> think it's sustainable to try and build a hackerspace without
>> subscriptions and fees. The main point point of such places is to get
>> access to space and tools that most individuals can't afford
>> individually but can collectively, concessions can always be offered to
>> the unwaged / disadvantaged.
> I strongly disagree. In Glasgow we built the Electron Club hackspace with
> nothing other than donations of equipment and the odd very small cash
> donation. E.g. a few of us chipped in a few quid each to register a domain
> and a few quid more later on to buy wood to build proper shelving. All the
> equipment was donated, and more recently there were various fundraising
> initiatives to secure the space its own private ADSL line (rather than
> sharing the CCAs).
> Granted, the Centre for Contemporary Arts provides the space rent free, but
> there will be similar opportunities elsewhere. At the start I was sceptical
> of the idea that this could all be done without membership fees and such,
> but through perseverance it worked out, proved sustainable and it has little
> in common with the dystopian non-commercial hackspace vision you described:
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/carrierdetect/sets/72157602590274510/
> http://www.electronclub.org
> Not everyone can afford membership fees and even when people can it may sway
> them the other way if they are unsure it is for them. I'm not against
> commercial hackspaces, but to suggest non-commercial ones will be extremely
> poor by comparison is nonsense. Furthermore, once cash comes into the
> equation it suddenly implies a whole structure for managing spend, official
> roles and so on. If you can live without this and exist with little more
> than a clear mission/purpose and basic rules it means you can focus your
> efforts on the fun stuff whilst being as inclusive as possible.
> Cheers,
> Andrew

Agreed, with some funding from somewhere you might get a decent place
going but then, chances are, you'll make yourself dependent on funding
which can be pretty ethereal at the best of times, let alone on the
brink of a Tory administration! I think contributing cash, even if it's
a token amount really increase peoples engagement and sense of ownership
of the project. As I said there's no reason there couldn't be
concessions and from what I recall you could pay your dues at NYCR by
contributing time and or equipment rather than just plain cash.

Also, I didn't mean to suggest a less commercial endeavour would always
be 'extremely poor', those are just my experiences to date. I still
think you'd struggle to build a space as dynamic and vital as NYCR on
charity funding alone though. Not to disrespect yours or their efforts
(it looks a lot better than anything I've seen in the UK date) but the
electronclub.org front page was last updated 6 months ago, the
nycresistor.com one - 5 days ago. Of course one should be careful with
the conclusion one draws from such tiny sample sets, maybe I'm wrong. I
hope so as I'd like a good London hackspace and I don't have a very high
disposable income right now :)


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