Hackerspaces meetings at CCC
Meeting one, December 27 2012:
Introduction round of members of at least 34 hackerspaces from at least 16 different countries.
Meeting two, December 29 2012:
more in-depth discussion with some of those same representatives of the hackerspaces on shared Problems & proposed solutions:
Getting existing members activated & Getting new members involved:
- Lack of involvement new members has to do with their lack of confidence to pick up projects;
- New people that drop in are often not taken care off by existing members/ignored at social nights, etc.;
- There is often a lot of expectation towards the board members as being the ones making decisions/being active.
- having dedicated people looking out for newbees, generating consciousness among existing members that it is necessary to take care of newbees;
- Making the values of your space explicit (i.e., “this is a do-ocracy”, “don’t complain but fix it”, “failing is victory”, “be on fire”)
- Like Shackspace in Stuttgart: work with a sticker system that makes it very easy to see at one glance which projects you can get involved in and in what way: Shackspace works with green, red & yellow stickers that explicate the status of a project (i.e. “Public”, “owner only”, with contactname and URL of wiki where to find documentation)
- Designing governance models that are activating. Yet, what this means is different in different spaces and depends on a lot of other ideas regarding what it is that motivates people to be active. Urbana & Noisebridge for instance work with very different models that are both driven by the desire to get people to be active. Like CBase, Urbana does this by only giving physical control over the space to people who have proven to do something for the space. Noisebridge does so by handing out keys to everybody.
- Noisebridge: just keeping the space as open as possible makes sure there is always an influx of fresh blood/fresh initiatives. Downside is that this also brings destructionist people;
- Ask people explicitly to develop their leadership skills;
- Expose people to a lot of different types of activities and skills;
- Give people a shared project to do, in groups of two or three;
- The hackspace could function, partially, as a kind of helpdesk - way of getting revenue, getting people involved, being useful
Diversifying the space/getting new people interested
- Having recurring events (monthly)
* Making sure (these) events are not only geekish/technical, but appeal to non-geek people as well. You could give a concert, or organize an art show, in addition to lightning talks.
- Actively visit other types of events where you present your space
Tension between the need to have an organizational structure, and the desire among certain members to remain anonymous/to stay away from any bureaucratic involvement.
There is not one clear-cut solution to this tension, also because there are different legal structures at work in different countries. Yet, in general it seems a good idea to have a proxy for the non-bureaucratic members.
Cleaning up the space
- Hire people to clean up for you
- Like Mitellab in Vienna, use alarm and blinking lights that go off each day at 11PM to mark the moment that everyone has to get up and start cleaning.
How to deal with destructive/harassing people? Banning policy?
- Direct confrontation
- Committee at a distance who makes the decisions