Do you know a project that has greatly improved the quality of your hackerspace?
What about a project that costs much, much less than the average off-the-shelf solution?
What about an astounding innovation that you’re used to seeing from the corporate sector, but
was designed in your home town’s hackerspace?
These projects and more are what the Hackerspace Awards would like to recognize. Over the next few weeks members of all hackerspaces are invited to suggest award categories and post them on the Hackerspace Awards wiki page.
Projects nominated to each category will be subjectively judged by a panel made up of one member from each hackerspace. Dates and categories are not set in stone yet, but keep watch here at hackerspaces.org for additional information. Once set, any project may be nominated for a category, with self-nominations encouraged.
Alongside the Merit Based Awards, the Workshop88 guys have offered to make their Hackerspaces In Space (HSIS) event the Competitve leg of the Hackerspace Awards. The HSIS competition is encouraging all hackerspaces to launch a Balloon Satallite for as light, and as cheaply as possible, and return with pictures of the Earth’s horizon.
As of the writing of this article, there are over 18 hackerspaces signed up to compete! The launches are set to begin on June 1st, and end August 31st.
The recent history of what has happened at “the Forsk“, a hackerspace in Malmö, Sweden before and after the police raid(s).
Let’s start with a timeline to give you a quick round-up of where we are, since unfortunately many articles referred to are written in Swedish.
At this point (22-01-2010) there are still no allegations concerning the hackerspace, but in statements towards press people, these terms get mentioned:
“Preparation for Grand Theft”
“Breaking of the special knife law”
“Breaking alcohol laws”
Asked about these allegations, the prosecutor claimed that this is nothing they will press charges on. (or something similar)
When we ask the police to return our stuff, they say no as they haven’t been able to use or understand any of the data they
cloned of any of the disks. For this reason, they decide to keep the machines to bargain with.
(one laptop unrelated to the hackerspace is handed back, but is totally wrecked (one disk is overwritten with garbage data, dvd-player is broken))
Police contacts employers and relatives to people in the hackerspace to push them in to give up information on people in hackerspace and what “passwords” they may have.
Police decides to hand back ink, wifi-antenna, Linksys-router and three out of ten bus cards.
Police raids founder of hackerspace grill-bit (MMN-o) in Swedish city Umeå (and blog host for forskningsavd). During this bust, the police confiscates four servers, one laptop and one external USB-drive. The forskningsavd.se blog goes offline due to the raid.
The police accuses MMN-o of computer intrusion, prosecutors disagree on the charges but continue with charges.
The charges are based on MMN-o using the Internet connection at his rented office to set up a VPN.
According to the ISP this VPN disturbed the service for other customers since it was “complex to limit its bandwidth” and this type
of connection was not agreed upon. Further the ISP refused to contact MMN-o in person since this would “give him a chance to remove
something illegal before the raid”.
Here is an article written by MMN-o in Swedish
More recently he made this statement, as an argument to why police had decided to put “thepiratebay.org” in the countrywide DNS filter against childporn:
“The police have documented evidence that child-pornographic content is
hosted at The Pirate Bay”
“This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.“
We will not be victims, we wil continue we will grow and we will
learn, build, recycle and change!
Forskningsavdelningen means Research Department. “Forskning” is the
idea of analyzing circumstances and document them to learn and change
behaviour. Our department are good at this. We are not sad, hurt,
outraged or offended we are innovation we are change we are friendship
and we “forsk” our way to the future. We will not excuse our selves
for our curiosity.
as of yesterday afternoon, our fellow hacker, amazingly talented game and graphic designer, and wonderful friend Florian Hufsky aka oneup (aka geeq, aka no_skill) is no longer with us.
Some of you might remember his beautiful game ideas for Super Mario War or Puit Universe, the 72 dpi Army, and Urban Takeover (later ClaimSpotting), but also the work for GRL Vienna and laser tagging, and Planet; or him being spokesperson of the Austrian Pirate Party, founding member of soup.io, just as well as an amazing graphic designer and comics artist,… and I could maybe continue this unordered braindump of a silly attempt to make a list of all the projects he’d been involved in for eternity and a day, but – never will I be able to embrace the sheer endlessness of his very original, both incredibly inspired and inspiring, geek-artistic output.
Metalab has lost one of its most creative hackers, and the world one of its most beautiful minds.
The one quote of his that came to my mind right after we heard the terrible news was, ‘When in doubt, do it (you have no chance to survive, make your time)’ – and that, I believe, is what held true for all his life.
R.I.P. Florian Hufsky | November 13th, 1986 – December 16th, 2009
While tears choke the words, I have to admit to fail at expressing my deepest sorrow.
Much love and sincerest condolences to all friends and relatives.
And we all go together if one falls down, we talk out loud like you’re still around; and we miss you.
In an effort to kickstart more cooperation between spaces, the Hackerspaces Xchange is now open! It’s rather sparse at the moment, but I’m hoping you all can help change that and move hackerspace cooperation to the next level. How to use it is simple. Just add a picture/video of what your space is wanting to swap/share with other spaces and remove the image/video when it’s been exchanged. Pretty simple right? So get to helping out other spaces!
Now a quick history lesson. Back in August of this year a few members of Pumping Station: One decided to put on a event that was an all night project frenzy dubbed Hackathon, now it looks like a number of hackerspaces worldwide have joined into the fray.We are currently calling this the Synchronous Hackathon. Which has become a monthly event on the 3rd weekend of every month. Of the people and hackerspaces currently involved they are providing live video feeds into their spaces to show what is going on for the entire weekend also in a direct effort to cross collaborate on a number of projects.
Now for the longer history lesson. Pumping Station: One didn’t create the Hackathonnor did they start this fire, nor is it a new idea, nor is the wiki article I just linked definitive, but the sentiments are still the same. Come in for a period of time, with a project, and/or the intention to join a project and complete it.
Some projects of course are started can’t be completed in the allotted time but are given a great start which is also great because they are so large. Doesn’t matter though. The point is to DO IT!
What can you expect from the hackathon, I’ll list what we’re doing for the PS:One Hackathon: Feel The Noise Edition Our noisy Hackathon of the month.
What started as a few US hackerspaces having a hackathon the same weekend, has turned into an international synchronous hackathon! Most if not all spaces will be streaming live video this weekend, Nov. 20th-22nd, at various points throughout. So even if you’re not participating it’ll be a prime time to check out some other hackerspaces and possibly interact with them via live chat in #hackerspaces on irc.freednode.net . The following spaces are participating as of the posting of this :
To put it simply they are all speed talking sessions, think lightening talks. That’s it, new branding, same old excellent thing for inputing a broad range of information in a short amount of time to people who don’t know anything about a particular field.
So the interesting thing people always ask, is, what is a hacker or hackerspace. Well…. Simon Dorfman from Gumbo Labs explains it really well inside of 5 minutes.
One point I glossed over is why I believe that money and organizational forms are so intertwined when it comes to hackerspaces. This series could have been called, “Hackerspaces and Organizational Forms: Five Approaches.” Admittedly, I’m not talking much about money, how to find it, raise it or spend it. I haven’t talked much about fundraising, accounting or project management, though I plan to in the future. In my observation, what happens in Hackerspaces doesn’t need to be managed or carefully organized. Once Hackers gather in a space, they’ll begin creating and collaborating in ways that are remarkably similar regardless of culture, language or organizational form. Projects and programs that happen in one space can easily happen in other spaces, only marginally constrained by the organizational form in practice.
I believe the “magic” that happens in Hackerspaces is universal, as are the two necessary evils: Money and how to manage it. Being physical spaces, Hackerspaces have real costs and real opportunities for meeting those costs. Being collaborative spaces, the procedure for paying the bills involves some kind of relationship among the collaborators–that relationship is what we’re looking at when we discuss organizational forms. Failing to understand this relationship among the collaborators makes any discussion of funding very difficult. At the same time, carefully understanding these relationships as they’ve happened elsewhere gives future Hackerspaces the best chance of finding the right form for their own effort.
These forms are also heavily tied to the core source of income for each space. The Anarchy form, for example, implies that the rents for a space are essentially appropriated. The Angel form implies that they’re donated. The Owner form implies that they’re taken care of by a single participant, who generally subsidizes them. Both the Board and Membership forms implies that these costs are paid collectively by the participants, most often through membership dues. Hackerspaces, regardless of form, can solicit donations from the public, host classes for a fee, throw rent parties, sell shirts online, or Club-Mate in the space. However, each of those activities is handled differently depending on the form.
The Board Form
The Artifactory, Kwartzlab, Collexion, and Revelation Space are all different examples of the “Board” form. While each space heavily relies on its membership, each space has an involved subset of members that makes decisions. In a way, the “Board Form” is the least well-defined of the five forms and most prone to combination with other forms. Founder Todd Wiley describes Collexion as a hybrid of the Angel and Board forms:
Our board consists of people from our local chamber of commerce, universities, and higher ups at the local big-name tech companies (Lexmark & HP). This helps give us the legitimacy we need to raise funds. The board likes that they are fostering innovation, and see it is an economic development boost, because Lexington loves brains more than zombies do. The board is glad to help us organize things, find money, and host events, but most ideas come from the membership, where there isn’t a set hierarchy…By relying on outside sources we’re going to make membership as accessible as possible ($5 / month for students). The less barriers there are to experimenting the better…I think it will be successful, and free up hackers to hack, and those that are interested enough can take the reins and try to find monies.
As you might remember, we from revspace (den haag) were in doubt about the structure to choose. In the end we settled for the ‘stichting’, basically number four, mixed with elements of a ‘vereniging’, number 5. The board is ultimately responsible, however we define ‘participants’ that have the right to install and deinstall the board, as well as advise the board.
In many cases, a Membership space will have a Board of Directors. However, this doesn’t mean the space is taking on a Board Form, especially when a Board is required by corporate law.
The functional power that board has is the determining factor. If the Board is essentially a paper tiger, with the membership in functional control of affairs, the space is probably best suited to the Membership form. Punkin describes Kwartzlab as an example:
Legally, we’re Corporation Without Share Capital (Not-for-Profit), which matches “The Board”. We opted not to register as a Co-operative (which would more closely match “The Membership”), because the laws governing Co-operatives are more restrictive, without offering us any useful benefits. But the Co-operative or “Membership” philosophy closely matches our vision for the space, so we borrow heavily from it in our bylaws, policies, and procedures…We are 100% member funded (with all members paying the same level of dues), which was also very important to our initial membership. Any of the big decisions (like how much dues will be) are subject to a member vote, and all members-in-good-standing get an equal vote.
So, for lack of a better definition, if your space is primarily controlled by your members, it follows the Membership form. If the members leave most of the decisions and money matters to a subset, it probably follows the Board form. Landing firmly in one category or another is not necessarily that important, as long as the relationships of each are well understood. Some Membership spaces may functionally slip back into a Board form, just like Board spaces often migrate into Membership spaces, or use the Board form as a bootstrapping step.
David Cake describes how the Artifactory is using the Board Form to bootstrap their way into a Membership Hackerspace:
Our brand new Perth space is a board elected by the membership, and so far while the board has been doing a lot of the work and taking the lead on a lot of the decisions, meetings with the entire members are making most of the major decisions. So I guess we fit into the membership category really, even though the board are making a lot of important decisions in the process of getting us up and running.
Makers Local 256 is a non-profit 501c3 and would be considered “the membership” based, but I guess started out as “the board” based since the board is the original 10 members (changing soon given new bylaws and elections).
Makers Local 256 followed the critical mass pattern in establishing their hackerspace, with their original 10 members fulfilling the role of the 2+2 model. Their unique dues model describes how a Board can help build membership in the early stages:
The original 10 pledged a monthly donation that they could afford and we found a space that fit within that budget. We decided that extending this to new membership was a good idea and so we don’t have to turn away someone who might offer a lot but might not have a lot of money. A monthly pledge doesn’t have to be monetary but does fall under board discretion to ensure that said pledge benefits the space.
Especially when bootstrapping, a board can bring the agility needed to get things off the ground. Especially in the first weeks/months a lot of decisions need to be made, while at the same time the membership is still getting used to each other and the whole idea. Having to discuss all these decisions with the membership at large (apart from the fact that we currently have no actual membership defined as we are still in the process of forming the legal entity) will slow down the process of setting up the space a lot.
Of course, we, as a board, are listening closely to what the potential membership wants, and actively seek the opinion of everyone involved in the space. In any volunteer-driven organization you will see different levels of commitment. In my experience, those that become part of the board have a high level of commitment, and don’t mind pulling in a few extra hours for the greater good.
The notable advantages of a Board space are formal organization with less administrative overhead from the participants, as well a greater degree of formal control vested in fewer people. In most cases where there isn’t a hybrid form with another style of organization, the advantages are remarkably similar to those of a Membershp organization. Here, I’m looking at advantages of a Board form
Anarchy: Board spaces are (generally) official legal structures with explicit expectations and guidelines for operation and more stable bases of operation.
Angel: Most Angel arrangements take on some kind of Board form. As in the case with Collexion, these Angels offer advice and consult with the organization through their board. The advantages of having a board include greater independence. In the hybrid form, the advantage of having a board generally involves a defined role for the Angels and the ability to swap or separate Angels if need be.
The Owner: Sometimes an Owner space will have a small, informal group of advisers. However, the purpose of a Board is to have a group of people who make decisions as a group on behalf of the stakeholders. In this case, the Board is somewhat accountable to its stakeholders whereas Owners may not be as accountable. Board spaces generally offer greater freedom and flexibility and rarely exercise a kind of “veto power” that Owners have by default.
Membership: Board run organizations tend to mediate disputes and prevent certain routine issues from getting to the Membership level. Generally, this means more time for members to enjoy their space.
The notable disadvantages over alternative forms are also similar to the Membership form:
Anarchy: Board spaces must periodically file paperwork, support the space through dues, stay on top of other legal requirements and fulfill their stated obligations. This leaves less time for projects, hanging out, etc.
Angel: In the non-Angel form, Board members are often saddled with the heavy burden of coming up with the funds to run the space, and make tough calls on funding issues.
The Owner: Instead of having an owner to rely on for collecting and paying the rent, easily making special arrangements, mitigating disagreements among participants and having one “final say” on matters, Board members must come to agreement on certain issues or figure out ways to work around issues.
Membership: Ultimately, the Board is responsible for issues and decisions that otherwise might have been made by the membership. While the Board can occasionally punt, even a routine decision may run afowl of the membership and lead to difficulties.
Another disadvantage cited by Martens is what he describes as an anti-pattern of complacency:
…some members may fall into a consumer-like attitude. Expect the board to do the heavy lifting, and merely consume what the spaces makes available. The board members, by nature, will have a tendency to pick up work that is left undone, because they have a strong drive to ‘make it work’. That might lead to overworked board members, an apathetic membership, and failure of the space. That’s a doom scenario, and normally there will be someone to pull on the emergency brake before this happens. But still, something to be aware of I think.
The Board form is good for Bootstrapping, and depending on the environment, a next best form to the Membership model. Hackers are generally bad at paperwork and group dynamics, so having a Board to take care of the administrative overhead and mediate disputes can help ensure continuity and sustainability. It also works well as a hybrid with other forms, or as a means for acting as a firewall between Angels, Owners and Members. But beware of complacency!
As always, feel free to ask questions on the Hackerspaces Discuss list, or reach out to these spaces directly.
I’ll admit, this post is coming a bit late, but we’re still recovering from our month-long sleepless, caffeinated, sprint across North America. On the plus side, we’re done filming! We visited as many hackerspaces and makerspaces as we could in a month, but that was the easy part….
Now begins the post-production work.
We’ll be working for a quite a while on getting everything just right, so unfortunately I can’t give an exact date of release. I can, however, tell you that we’re going to try to have it done by next spring. Believe me, we’re just as excited to see the finished film as you are!
I want to say thank you to the dozens of people who helped us out along the way. Without the car trips, beds, and donations of both hackerspace members and kind strangers, there is absolutely no way we could have done this. We may have had the cameras, but it was all of you who made this possible. Thank you!!
For updates on the film, check out www.twohandsproject.com! I’ll do my best to keep all of you in the loop here on hackerspaces.org as well.