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Open Source Bridge - The Rise of Hacker Spaces

Leigh Honeywell, Co-Founder, hacklab.to
  • what's a hacker space?
    • been around for thousands of years under different names
    • hacker spaces is latest incarnation of a community space
    • place to go to use the kinds of tools you might not have at your house
    • also connection with idea of "third space" (not work, not home)
    • instead of hacking alone at home, you hack with others who are either like-minded or have divergent interests
    • like a "permanent hallway"
  • history
    • model railroad clubs, HAM radio clubs, toastmasters, etc.
    • major influences around north america
      • the loft in Boston
      • new hack city in san francisco
    • in europe there's a 25 year history
      • tend to be more political in nature
  • international community
    • around 400
    • many in germany affiliated with the chaos computer congress
      • publish a quarterly magazine with 4000 subscribers
      • heavily involved with push against biometric ID in germany
  • 2007 - hackers on a plane
    • trip from defcon in las vegas to event in dusseldorf
    • this got people very enthusiastic about hackerspaces -- build! unite! multiply!
    • hackerspaces.org founded by people from vienna's metalab
      • metalab is considered a youth center--get funding from the government
  • Hacker Space Design Patterns - some highlights
  • examples
    • KC - cowtown computer congress
      • located in a mine underground
      • pioneered fundraising by raffle
    • DC - HacDC
      • located in a church
      • help improve technology for the church, do a lot with community wireless efforts
    • hacklab.to
      • founded july 2008
      • 35 members
      • about 200 people on public discussion list
      • 800 sq ft space in kensington market
  • hacklab.to infrastructure
  • projects
    • most of the interesting stuff going on in hackerpsaces is free software/open source
    • not all technology projects--sewing, etc.
    • lots of electronics hacking
    • roombas
    • laser cutter
    • newbie-oriented programming classes
  • lots of free hardware projects coming out of hackerspaces as well
    • e.g. discussions of building an open source laser cutter
    • arduino microcontroller -- came out of art college in italy
    • 3d printer (makerbot?)
  • what do hackerspaces mean for free software?
    • another backchannel
    • place for people to collaborate on free software in a place that's potentially higher bandwidth
    • more opportunity for cross-pollination
    • space where small user groups congregate or grow out of
    • can show up at hackerspace with question and even if you don't get the answer, you get a lot of ideas you wouldn't get elsewhere
  • challenges
    • institutional/organizational issues similar to the ones free software projects run into
    • politics
      • bootstrapping a business out of a hackerspace can be pretty perilous
    • who's in charge
    • where does the money come from?
      • unlike free software projects, there's overhead (rent) for hackerspaces
    • scaling
      • once you get a core, how do you get new members involved?
    • how do we recruit the next generation?
      • outreach to schools -- teachers love having people come in and talk to their students about what they're doing
  • "the future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed" -- william gibson

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