Hackerspaces – The Beginning (the book)

Bre | Posted 2011.08.31 at 5:34 pm | Perma

In December of 2008, a group of hackers was sitting on the floor with faces aglow with laptop light cruising the internet and skyping friends in and listening to death metal.

It was 12 days before 25c3. Astera and I had a conversation that went something like this:

B: There should be a book.
A: Yes, there should.
B: We have 12 days.
A: We can do it.

The twelve days we had was until CCC started. We figured we would have it done by then. We contacted all the hackers we knew around the world and put the word out. We expected to get about a half a page of writing from each space. We reckoned that it would be a 25 page pamphlet. We also reckoned that it be easy for folks to write up a little summary within a few days of what it was like to get their hackerspace started and get back to us.

Within a week we had been scorched by a flame war, gotten a lot of both written and photographic material submitted and it seemed likely that the book would happen. Then the submissions kept coming… and coming. The hackerspaces around the world told each other about the project and many groups sent some writing in describing the beginning of their hackerspace. Word had even gotten round to groups that didn’t have a space yet and they were sending us descriptions of their pre-beginnings too!

The 12 days came and went and still the submissions kept coming. After a few months submissions had trailed off and Astera came to NYC and began designing the book. She’s a pro and it shows. This book looks beautiful because she took the material and somehow made it fit together aesthetically, not a trivial task. Jens Ohlig jumped into the process last year to help push the editing process forward. Remember, in our minds it was going to be a project that would take less than two weeks and it turned into something epic. It’s been a long wait and I hope you’ll think that it’s worth it.

Download HackerSpaces: The Beginning!

This book documents where the hackerspace movement was in December of 2008. In that way it’s a bit of a time capsule. It’s not an exhaustive book, but we hope there are enough stories in here to show that all your excuses for not starting up a hackerspace are invalid. Each group faced down their own dragons to bring their hackerspace into existence including  floods, rats, and drama. If they can do it, so can you.

We did this because we wanted it to exist and so it is a reward in itself. If you feel moved and want to support hackerspaces, we suggest contributing to the Wau Holland fund which helps make awesome things happen for hackerspaces. We would also like to thank everyone who submitted photographs and writing, this is your book.

After these years, the book is finally free in the world as a pdf. Download it, read it, and share it. We’re open to the idea of making it into a real physical book and if you’re interested in making that happen, let us know.

Build, Unite, Multiply!

From thursday 22:00 CET: Signal!

Fish_ | Posted 2010.08.11 at 11:15 pm | Perma

Hackerspaces signal

#The first signal was broadcasted! You can find the shows at the Signal Archive

Once upon a time on a campsite far far away, about 2500 hackers came together, they hacked, chat and listened 4 days to one of their most favorite radio channels. Day in and day out they had so much fun, listening to their type of music, story’s and discussions. Everybody was happy and there was a huge motivation along the hackers. The last hour went by, the radio station had to stop and the hackers went back home again, the happiness ended….

Then a few radio hackers came with an idea, why shouldn’t we start our own streaming radio? So we can serve hackers all around the world.
Oke, the real story is a bit less dramatic but one thing is sure, everybody can be happy again during 2 hours every week! We have a streaming radio station. The name of our brand new radio is “Signal”, it stands for a medium, a message, a hack and much more.

We have some show’s planned but the schedule could change off course, for now we have the following program’s and we are broadcasting every thursday from 22:00 CET till 22:00.

  • /dev/random show
  • The Hackerspace hour
  • Room IOI
  • Talking Anthropology
  • Signals And Portents
  • The Maker’s Review

If you have show’s/random idea’s/etc to add, please give us a sign to our signal! Spread the word by using this flyer

So, what’s taking you so long?
Test the signal right here, right now so you are prepared for Thursday’s first live show ever!
We are broadcasting from the Eth-0 and start with the /dev/random show followed by the Hackerspacehour.
During the shows we will follow the IRC channel of hackerspaces and the twitter hashtag: #signal

An interview with syn₂cat

nhitze | Posted 2009.10.04 at 12:47 pm | Perma

syn2cat logo

First of all, please introduce yourself – who is behind syn₂cat and what do you do for a living?

While syn₂cat began as a two men project in August 2008, it has by now developed into a fully fledged non-profit organisation, featuring 4 administrative members and 4 additional officers. The initial founders, Steve and David are a freelance IT consultant and a political science student respectively.

Of the additional people that soon stocked up the syn₂cat office, macfreak109 is a school teacher in information science, xx5y is a microelectronics engineer, Bartek a post-grad physics student, Gunstick a sysadmin and Michel is a student in secondary school. We only now got reinforced by an 8th crew member.

So how did you come up with the idea to found a hackerspace?

The idea of a hackerspace was born out of desperation ;)
David felt that, should he ever have to return to Luxembourg after university, there’d have to be a hackerspace. Visiting the Metalab in Vienna, though only for a short hour and without much going on, was a key moment in filing that decision.

Though the idea of building a hackerspace was initially scheduled for after David’s graduation, we spontaneously decided to do it “right there and now”. Since then, the project has been steadily growing like an open source project, with its “developers” learning by doing how to run such a show.

What are your future plans for the hackerspace?

Bootstrapping the space is still the near future and once we accomplished that, attracting more people and launching projects will be our focus. One group will focus on youth projects to get more young people into thinking outside the box and begin seeing solutions instead of problems.

Another future task is to constantly shift the responsibility of the actual space to other, maybe younger, people. Although we talked about an “administrative” board, we are far from paper tigers and want to keep the complexity as flat as possible.

Why do you think is the movement spreading so fast right now?

It gained a lot of momentum by the Hackers on a Plane project and the incredible amount of hackerspaces growing in the US. The sudden US movement had its spark from some German hackerspace visits so I guess it was the Germans again ;)

Interestingly enough this amalgamate of people starting open spaces backlashed to Europe again to give rise to a new iteration of hacker- or open spaces. The movement is nothing new but currently it sees fit in the hacker culture which sees an imminent uprise. To get to the point: People saw peers doing cool things in cool spaces and thought – “us too!” – and started doing it too.

Another factor might be the rise of social networks which allow ideas to spread quickly, especially amongst technically minded people. Hackerspaces take the connections made online and map them into the physical world.

Are there any fixed dates for events at syn₂cat?

There’s a list of fixed dates on our website. As we use Semantic Media Wiki (SMW) quite extensively, it is even available as an RSS feed.

The next big things will be our OpenWeekend where we show the space to the general public and keep it open for 36h straight. Further, we are also planning regular Python classes and electronics (soldering) sessions, with another focus on attracting other peer-groups such as user groups , the Chaos Computer Club, miniature railway hackers etc…

And the last question, where can we find some pictures?

There are photos on our website – but be ready to be rocked by the upcoming “after syn₂cat” pictures!

syn2cat meeting

Greetings from the night shift!

astera | Posted 2009.09.09 at 9:05 am | Perma

Dear haxx0rs,

sorry for the short, unannounced downtime this night, as we were doing some maintenance on the servers.
As of now, everything’s up & rolling again! However, if you encounter any bugs [cough, cough], please feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be right on it like white on rice ;)

G’morning greetz from your fave nightshifters hellekin & yours truly,

The Journey Begins…

Jordan | Posted 2009.09.08 at 6:00 am | Perma

Soon I may be visiting you!

Today I will embark on an epic journey with my friends Bilal Ghalib and Paul Jehlen to travel across the U.S. and Canada. Our mission? To record hackerspace history. We’re calling this film adventure the Two Hands Project… because along with everything else ever made, it will be produced with two hands!

Why are we doing this? As a member of Pumping Station: One, I know what a hackerspace is, but many other people don’t. If you are a member of a hackerspace, I’m sure you’ve had to explain it before, and it’s not always easy. If you aren’t a member, then I’m sure you’ve wondered yourself. We want to help explain what a hackerspace is, why they are important, and what it means to be a member of such a place.

So, we’re setting out to film the creation of projects, ideas, and whole new hackerspaces! We feel that now is an important time in the history of these spaces, and it is our responsibility to record that history.

For more information about the project, visit www.TwoHandsProject.com. I plan to blog here as much as possible along the way, so stay tuned for updates on our adventures!

- Jordan Bunker

Call-in 2009|07|12

astera | Posted 2009.07.07 at 3:59 pm | Perma

Hey everyone,

our next hackerspaces call-in will be held on this upcoming Sunday (unfortunately delayed one week – but then again mostly for the excellent cause that is ToorCamp), July 12th, 2009.
The call-in conference opens at 02 pm PDT (UTC-7) / 05 pm EDT (UTC-4) / 09 pm UTC / 11 pm CEST (UTC+2).

All information for dial-in can be found on the general call-in page.
For giving an update about recent activities and general awesomeness at your hackerspace, please RSVP on our wiki!

Hope to hear from y’all soon,

Categories : call-in  hackerspaces.org
Tags :   

Hackerspaces on Wired

astera | Posted 2009.03.30 at 12:42 pm | Perma

This morning, our neighbors at WIRED.compublished a really informative and outstanding article about hackerspaces, and NoiseBridge in specific.


From the blog post:

DIY Freaks Flock to ‘Hacker Spaces’ Worldwide

NoiseBridge on WIRED

SAN FRANCISCO — R. Miloh Alexander and Seth Schoen are hunched over an old pay phone whose innards are being grafted onto the guts of a Walmart telephone and a voice-over-IP modem.
Right now, the Frankensteinish hybrid looks like a pile of tangled wires. Somewhere in the mess, an alligator clip has popped loose. Schoen frowns.
“We really need to solder these down,” he says.
The two are working on a recent Monday evening at Noisebridge, a collectively operated hacker space in San Francisco. Across the table, Noisebridge member Molly Boynoff is typing on a sticker-covered MacBook, learning to program in Python. Next to her, Noisebridge co-founder Mitch Altman is showing two newcomers how to solder resistors and LEDs onto a circuit board.
“There are zillions of people around the world doing this,” says Altman, referring to the swell of interest in do-it-yourself projects and hacking. “It’s a worldwide community.”
At the center of this community are hacker spaces like Noisebridge, where like-minded geeks gather to work on personal projects, learn from each other and hang out in a nerd-friendly atmosphere. Like artist collectives in the ’60s and ’70s, hacker spaces are springing up all over.
There are now 96 known active hacker spaces worldwide, with 29 in the United States, according to Hackerspaces.org. Another 27 U.S. spaces are in the planning or building stage.
Located in rented studios, lofts or semi-commercial spaces, hacker spaces tend to be loosely organized, governed by consensus, and infused with an almost utopian spirit of cooperation and sharing.
“It’s almost a Fight Club for nerds,” says Nick Bilton of his hacker space, NYC Resistor in Brooklyn, New York. Bilton is an editor in The New York Times R&D lab and a board member of NYC Resistor. Bilton says NYC Resistor has attracted “a pretty wide variety of people, but definitely all geeks. Not Dungeons & Dragons–type geeks, but more professional, working-type geeks.”
For many members, the spaces have become a major focus of their evening and weekend social lives.
Since it was formed last November, Noisebridge has attracted 56 members, who each pay $80 per month (or $40 per month on the “starving hacker rate”) to cover the space’s rent and insurance. In return, they have a place to work on whatever they’re interested in, from vests with embedded sonar proximity sensors to web-optimized database software.
Altman wears a black Dorkbot T-shirt, a black zip-up hoody and olive khakis with large side pockets. His long gray hair features vibrant blue and red stripes, and he’s nearly always smiling. His enthusiasm for hacker spaces is infectious.
“In our society there’s a real dearth of community,” Altman says. “The internet is a way for people to key in to that need, but it’s so inadequate. [At hacker spaces], people get a little taste of that community and they just want more.”

I can most warmly recommend you to read the whole article here!
Congratulations to all parties involved.

And btw: As for today, we know of 101 active hackerspaces, plus 18 uncategorized; besides this, 64 hackerspaces are planned or (17 out of which) currently in building process.
And every time I see a post like this come up, a talk being held, a paper mentioning one of these spaces – every one of these times, more people get interested, and the long list of planned hackerspaces grows a little more.
And this is what makes me so very happy about Dylan Tweney’s article.

Build! Unite! Multiply!
yt, /astera



Apache crashed

As for 02:50 PM EST today, our good old Apache crashed due to the WIRED article’s appearence on the front page of digg.com; shortly after temporarily fixing load issues, the database was brought to its knees.


So, first off: W00T!!!1!!eleven

Secondly: We’re working on it. For the next couple of hours, however, only static html pages generated from the wiki will be served (besides this blog) – until we finalized the wiki optimization.

Again, thanks for all the interest. You people rock.

Hack on,

What is a hackerspace?

Eric Michaud | Posted 2009.02.19 at 11:26 pm | Perma

That is but one of the questions I get whenever I go out and the topic of what I do in my free time comes up.

So recently I had that same question asked but this time, Dave Hoffman of Davemakes.com had brought a video camera.

From Daves’ site
The time has finally come to unveil my secret project. HELLO is a new series of videos about interesting people. This first episode features Eric Michaud, President of Pumping Station: One, a hackerspace opening up in Chicago. I asked him all about what a hackerspace is, and why you should join one.

If you don’t have 15 minutes to spare, check out this quick 90 second preview of the interview.

This is the preview.

Preview of HELLO – Eric Michaud, President of Pumping Station: One from Dave Jacob Hoffman on Vimeo.

I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do, by doing this blog and building hackerspaces.



Call-in & dinner update!

astera | Posted 2009.01.26 at 4:55 am | Perma

Due to our worries about missing a lot of hackerspace updates by doing the conference call on Thu, Feb. 05th as planned (since quite a couple of you hackers might be trapped on a plane on your way to ShmooCon), we decided to reschedule the next call-in to

Sunday, Feb. 01st at 02 pm PST / 05 pm EST / 10 pm UTC / 11 pm CET

Please RSVP by adding your hackerspaces name + handle to the schedule if you are planning to call in & give an update!

As usual, all technical information can be found here.


However, our dinner plans on the night before ShmooCon – Thu, Feb 05th, that is – remain unchanged;
please make sure to RSVP via over9000(at)hackerspaces.org or add your name to the referring wikipage, so we save a hackerspaces dinner seat for you.

We hope to be able to update the wiki with more info about events happening at and around ShmooCon shortly – stay tuned ^^


Hope to see you there,

25C3′s competition wrap-up

astera | Posted 2009.01.08 at 4:25 pm | Perma

As you might know (or have read already), we also held a little competition at this year’s Chaos Communication Congress on the base of and in great anticipation to The Hackerspaces Battle, consisting of a speed soldering and a speed coding challenge (unfortunately, we didn’t get the freaking proprietary Xbox Dance Dance Revolution device get to work with our shiny UNIX machines…).

This is an advertizement by bicyclemark

I know I’m pretty late with posting the results of the competition, but… well, in fact, I cannot even do that =(
Unfortunately, one of my bags disappeared mystically on the last night of 25C3, and with it not only a bunch of cables and T-shirts (if by any chance you come across any of these, please let me know!) but also a bunch of paperwork – including my list of participants in the coding challenge…

They love Astera by bicyclemark

Therefore, at this point I can only provide you with the times we took
at the speed soldering competition:

Group 1:
11:42 Ole
13:00 Ash
15:38 Paul
18:34 Joe
22:24 Alex
24:33 Risktaker
34:10 Dmytri
36:48 Natano

Group 2:
11:11 Marius
12:12 Andi
14:14 Zach
16:32 Rainer
16:51 Eric
17:27 Audrey
46:00 George

25c3 by yarnivore25c3 by yarnivore

However, there is ONE thing I can remember for sure, thinking of the following day’s speed coding competition – that being an epic accomplishment by a boy called Matvey (if I recall correctly):
This young coder did not only finish the task (Euler problem no. 12) within less than 20 minutes, but also put together a beautiful little piece of programming art.

Now if you got hooked on our coding challenge, why not consider to join TECC, The Euler Coding Collective?
We love Euler problems – and solving them in all different languages. ^^

25c3 by yarnivore

Again, special thanks to Mitch Altman for hosting our solderers,
and thanks everyone for taking part in the challenge!
You people rock.

Yours truly,

PS: And if ever I get my stuff back, I’ll update this post of course =)

All pictures by bicyclemark and yarnivore, under CC by-nc-sa.