Hackerspaces and hippie crashpads

Johannes from Monochrom sends us his essay on Hackerspaces, HACKING THE SPACES:
The history of the so-called hackerspaces expands back to when the counter culture movement was about to make a serious statement. In the decade after the hippies attempted to establish new ways of social, political, economical and ecological relationships, a lot of experiments were carried out concerning the construction of new spaces to live and to work in. Thus, the first hackerspaces fit best into a countercultural topography consisting of squat houses, alternative cafes, farming cooperatives, collectively run businesses, communes, non-authoritarian childcare centres, and so on. All of these established a tight network for an alternative lifestyle within the heart of bourgeois darkness. Hackerspaces provided room where people could go and work in laid-back, cool and non-repressive environments (well, as far as any kind of space or environment embedded into a capitalist society can be called laid-back, cool and non-repressive).

Sociological termed "third spaces" are spaces that break through the dualistic scheme of bourgeois spatial structure with places to live and places to work (plus places for spare time activities). They represent an integrative way that refuses to accept a lifestyle which is formed through such a structure. This means they can come to cooperative and non-repressive ways of working on e.g. technical problems that may result in new and innovative solutions. And that's exactly where Adorno's "Wrong Life" could slip in too...

HACKING THE SPACES (Thanks, Johannes!)


  1. Somehow I’d think that having a place where work _wasn’t_ going to occur would be more soothing than the alternatives.

  2. @Cicada

    The idea of these spaces, and alternative cultural spaces in general, is that they provide an environment for activities that do not fit into the traditional dichotomy of work and leisure, attempting to create a new modality of living in which individual and social purpose are unified. Of course one could argue that the capitalist wage system does this, but all to frequently it subjugates the individual.

  3. The actual article is worth reading, the pulled quotes don’t give the flavor, actually distort it a bit. Johannes+Frank = monochrom

    In contrast to the revolutionary hacker spaces monochrom reminisce about, the “Third Place” concept is about something less (although still somewhat) antagonistic. A third place is where different kinds of people go, between work and home, and do something more important than just relaxing but less structured than work or even home. One important criterion for a functioning third place is that the denizens to some extent appropriate and repurpose it from the owners, although usually in a friendly way. The Third Place works to counter narrowness and disconnection in the system, but it’s still seen as part (if only an eroding part) of a system.

    This is emphatically not what monochrom want (it’s also not Starbucks) but the comparison is interesting.

    monochrom admit more than they think when they quote “Rule 76– as long as you can think about it, you can be against it.” Here is how they identify the enemy: If it fights back, that proves we needed to fight it in the first place. If it accommodates us and uses our ideas, it is sucking our blood, see previous conclusion. By this definition the enemy is “whatever.” “[Political/ social/ economic…] theory is a toolkit to analyze and deconstruct the world.” Yes but back thru a long history including Adorno and Marx it can also be exercises in long- winded resentment and paranoia.

    I am a white middle-class male typical hacker, happy with my local artisty techno tinkerers clubs. I guess if I knew a better way to make the world less oppressive I wouldn’t have to wish monochrom luck in realizing a falsifiable fantasy.

  4. I respond to monochrom at my blog…


    Basically, my point is that there are workspaces for simpler and … dare I say more important technologies that are quite successful. And I must say, more diverse.

    Agree, disagree, or think their point is moot – I think the important factor of monochrom’s piece (and much of their other work) is that it reminds us that the stuff we’d be doing anyway has an intensely political aspect, whether we acknowledge it or not.

  5. Lol, is there anything for which the Baby-Boomers *don’t* take credit?
    [Peace, Peace, Peace! –Recognizing that in a historical sense this may be accurate. Before y’all take my ENTIRE paycheck for your prescriptions.]

  6. @#6 posted by ripplepoppy, May 10, 2009 8:06 PM

    From my involvement in the one here in Chicago, Pumping Station One, it appears to largely be people under 30 involved with all of this. Thus not baby boomers.

  7. @2- Watson.
    All social structures and purposes try to subjugate the individual– it’s practially the definition of what a social system is: trying to enforce a set of behaviors (and worse, beliefs) onto a group of individuals who would likely have arrived at wildly divergent ideas if left to think in isolation.

    Strict separation of work and home spaces allows for some of the benefit of a social space (cooperation in resource gathering, etc) but still provides a place where you can be you and you alone– your thoughts alone, your wishes alone.

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