Hackerspaces around the world

Wired's Dylan Tweney has a great piece up on the world's burgeoning crop of Hacker Spaces -- clubhouses where members pitch in to share the rent in exchange for a role in governing a collectively managed collection of hacking kit: workbenches, tools, and components. I've visited hacker lofts in Vienna, San Diego, Los Angeles and elsewhere, and they always have a fantastic vibe, that palpable buzz you get from gathering a lot of smart, passionate, creative people inside each others' spheres of attention and set them to work, a cross-pollinated vigor.

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.

DIY Freaks Flock to 'Hacker Spaces' Worldwide


  1. Are there any good sources for protective tactics and practices to prevent Disruptors from attempting to castrate movements of this type?

    I can’t imagine security being that tight around an open workshop, the equipment and other resources can be costly, and facility safety is easily compromised.

    What can be done to help mitigate the inevitable COINTELPRO style attacks from conservative junkie groups who take it on a whim that they “don’t want this kind of thing in my city”?

    These kinds of group spaces should be designed from the ground up with security in mind. Defending ourselves, our communities, our nations, and our people against COINTELPRO style disruptor attacks should be a primary concern of a permanent sub-committee at each place.

    As well, defending one’s group rhetorically and doctrinally against Talking Point discrediting attempts is necessary to prevent friendly seeming hostile journalists from interviewing naive hotheads at each group space for purposs of counterpropaganda.

    If the conservative junkie groups will burn children to death in churches to prevent coming clean on the freedom to vote (c.f. American Civil Rights Movement) what will they stop at when they see consumer culture “decaying” due to blossoming creativity and the acquisition of technical skills by the masses? Real money is on the line here, folks, not just racial narcissism.

  2. I can’t speak for them all, but our hacker space in Kansas City has been built with security in mind and we have a very well thought out procedure when it comes to press relations. The hacker space movement has roots both in information security as well as maker culture.

    Of course…anyone in the midwest should check out both Pumping Station One in Chicago or the Cowtown Computer Congress in Kansas City.

  3. Re the COINTELPRO thing/security/whatever, you might want to take into consideration some way to handle potential problems with illegal activities.

  4. The Columbus Idea Foundry (http://www.ColumbusIdeaFoundry.com ) is a hackerspace and community workshop in Columbus, OH. Feel free to visit us for a tour! Welding, woodworking, CNC machining, 3D printing, and much more.

    Regarding security, scdevine – hackerspaces tend to have sufficiently technical people (electronics enthusiasts; infosec and physical security enthusiasts; locksport folks, etc) that brewing their own security isn’t too much of a challenge. Additionally, there are always commercial security systems, theft/damage insurance (if renting commercially, this is affordable compared to the liability insurance frequently required), and first and foremost, attracting a positive group of folks. Thankfully we haven’t had any issues yet.

    And yes, tad604 – Hive13 in Cincy is doing great things – we have a few friends down there.

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