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Where do you go to find physical meatspace, in-person community gatherings of like-minded individuals, who are curious basically about what Lobste.rs types of people are curious about? I, a lifelong resident of San Francisco and the surrounding area, know of a few places, but more is better, and not everyone is always in the Bay Area.

Recently, I had a really sad experience of being excluded at a space because of sorta weird judgement calls being made. I honestly hate the cultural ambivalence surrounding inclusion and tolerance, wherein sincere intolerance is justified by appeals to a superficial “intolerance of intolerance” that makes some logical sense but in my experience is… somewhat ineptly applied, by all-too-human judges. A flamewar online is one thing, but a flamewar IRL is quite saddening.

I’m not a member of some big $BIGCORP, even though I would love to be. I work construction, actually, where I am happily employed as I once had occasion to inform cadey. I just think reverse engineering is interesting. It’s like, I used to be into D&D. Now I read about weird hacks for fun. So I’ve been getting my fill online (on this very website), and at some certain hacker spaces. I’ve donated expensive books to one hackerspace, though not the one in question.

I’ve been given a clear signal not to associate myself with an honestly predominate character at some one or two of these spaces.

Feeling quite sad about this, since I consider myself progressive and into bleeding edge stuff and quite aware of and versed in critical theory, also known as “Theory,” an academic philosophy or “ideology” (not in a bad sense) which brought us the likes of such vocab words as intersectionality, structural violence, postmodernity, etc. I basically support the entire program implied by these terms’ usage, as far as I understand their meaning. Unfortunately, I have some characteristics that are considered by some to be indicative of an attitude that is so reactionary and negative and sad and mad and bad that I apparently am unfit to continue participating in this hacker space, which I visited once, where I had (as far as I knew?) no horribly negative interactions previously. Although occasionally contrarian (see: a fair number of my posts around here, to admittedly varying effect), I was never authentically suspect in the sense that someone who was turning a space into their bedroom, or stealing, or accused of rape, or lying, or appropriating donations, etc., would be worthy of being “86-ed.”

(In fact, someone who was 86-ed from a very popular San Francisco hacker space [not the one I’m not to return to, but another], a guy who goes around pretending to be a VC, once insisted that I buy him French fries. I never insisted that anybody buy me French fries, ever, never in my life, although I recognize that this is perhaps not the only reason to be disliked…)

Sincerely wondering what to do about these kinds of issues, and especially where else to get my fill of intellectually exciting fare, as someone who always completely and without reserve identified with the urge for equality and liberation, yet still finding myself mysteriously excluded from the very narrow allowance allotted me by certain seemingly self-appointed judges.

If I don’t belong among a bunch of outcasts, then among whom do I belong? I must not be the only person curious about technology who feels this way, whether in the Bay or elsewhere.

Please, please, a million times please , don’t start a culture war about this. I’ve been unnecessarily provocative in the past, but now I’m just asking honestly. I feel pretty bad.

Regards, Charlie

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    There’s a Wiki here: https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/

    I used to go to Denhac and Noisebridge, but overall I have less time now, and was also getting burned out by the lack of organization.

    My ideal community is more “group of people organizing together on a deep project”, and less “group of people, each occasionally dabbling in a series of shallow one-offs”.

    If I ever have time, I’ll start a hackerspace where there’s a maximum number of ~3 projects active simultaneously, and some form of collective product management to make sure they’re cool and fun and technically challenging.

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      Just let go of the romantic idea of a hackerspace. You will learn that “we are all friends”-communism does not work just a few seconds after someone with lower standards chipped the plane blades AGAIN that you have thoroughly sharpened. Or broke all 4mm drill bits and then went on sabatical. Or just laid the lid on paint or glue cans and you stand there with dried&hardened stuff saturday at 7:30 pm

      Find one or two handful of peers with same mindset and set up a workshop, five is a bit little, ten becomes burdensome.

      It will work if and only if:

      • it is no open house
      • presence is logged
      • at the end of the day everything is cleaned up
      • water/electricity/heating meters are logged at least weekly
      • machines are shared, consumeables ARE NOT
      • everybody has a liability insurance
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        I’d like to invite you to come visit RevSpace[1] in the Netherlands, if you’re ever in the area. You’ll see that while things aren’t 100% perfect, it’s quite possible to run a healthy 100+ member hackerspace without resorting to draconian (and IMO community-breaking) measures like “no shared consumables”.

        Here’s a brief though very limited tour of the space: https://www.nycresistor.com/2019/01/12/hackerspace-envy-a-visit-to-revspace-in-the-hague/

        We do log door unlocks by members, for example, but it certainly isn’t full presence logging; anyone can visit whenever a member is present. It’s not a fully open house (in that the doors are locked in principle), but anyone is welcome to visit, also repeatedly, even if they’re not a member.

        It’s more about community management and incentive design than anything else; if you establish a social expectation that everybody cleans their part, and you make cleaning supplies prominently visible in the space… then things get cleaned. It works the same for other expectations. Sometimes they are violated, and you have to talk to the person in question; but the vast majority of the time, it goes fine.

        I don’t doubt that there are other hackerspaces (that I’m not aware of) that have similar experiences and results. Ultimately, and I can’t repeat this often enough, what makes a hackerspace work is community management. Setting expectations, being clear about what is considered unacceptable behaviour. If you don’t do that, things will go to shit very quickly, like in any community. But it isn’t an inherent problem to hackerspaces.

        [1] https://revspace.nl/

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          Thank you for the tip. If it works I’d like to see it. See, I’m a burnt child in this regard, but stil la wee bit optimistic. I have an invitation for a 45. birthday in Almere, and I hope we all can travel again until september.

          what makes a hackerspace work is community management. and the shared topic as well:

          • Compilers do not wear off. Plane blades and drill bits will.
          • Misusing a build farm results in a broken build, some core files also are a nuisance, but no real damage.
          • Misusing a CNC machine could result in broken tool bits, or really severe damage to humans, buildings (fire) or environment (oil in ground water)

          Setting expectations, being clear about what is considered unacceptable behaviour.

          Hey, that is exactly what we did :)

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          Are you telling me to not desire to go to a cool place?

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            you’re called “inactive-user” now, but for further reference, it depends on you definition of “cool”.

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          Please don’t bring hackerspace drama here.

          #lobsters on Freenode might be a good place to ask, check to see if @shapr is lurking.

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            I should edit my post for the drama aspect, but I still wanna know

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              Your complaints are just distracting at best; no one here can do anything with that.

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                This is not a very charitable comment, but I both get why you find my feelings disappointing and useless and respect that you find me personally unproductive to the extent that I have felt them. I wasn’t sure how to express the problem. Engineers are apparently people too - it’s so annoying.


                I don’t think it’s a non-issue, but I don’t have an issue with your having an issue with my having an issue. Please accept this second-order apology.

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              In my experience people thwown out of spaces like hackerspaces:

              1. have a huge amount to learn about why their behaviour was bad
              2. have no idea that they have a huge amount to learn (even though a community is literally telling them that) and so don’t change/improve
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                Good to know

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                Where do you go to find physical meatspace, in-person community gatherings of like-minded individuals, who are curious basically about what Lobste.rs types of people are curious about?

                I think you won’t find something like this that is useful. Lobste.rs is great because there’s something for everyone. You can ignore what you aren’t interested in. In meat space, this is more socially unacceptable. You should think about what are the top two topics you like here and find groups for those topics.

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                  Healthy hackerspaces typically have members with a wide range of (mainly technical) interests, and it’s generally considered totally okay to just not engage on topics that don’t interest you; so long as you don’t harm the community (by eg. not cleaning up after yourself), of course.

                  In practice, I’ve found that most people tend to become interested in new topics after hanging around a hackerspace for a while. Interacting with other people who are knowledgeable in their interests, broadens your own.

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                    Thanks, that’s a good perspective. Tbh I’ve never been to a hackerspace but I always assumed it was as I had said. I will try it out some time.