breChac kerspac esbook : *** cat intro.txt
asteraGhackerspacesbook ! w tt cat fw.txt
The international hackerspace movement is gaining momentum and
new hackerspaces are opening up every month somewhere in the world
to give the curious people who like to make and break things a place to
meet. Geeks and nerds are often portrayed sitting alone behind the glow
of a laptop screen, but now, in many cities big and small around the world,
hackers gather to solder electronics, share programming skills, teach classes,
and build a community of intelligent, inquisitive, and clever people. I truly
believe that groups of hackers can tackle any challenge they want to take
Each hackerspace is different. Some are bigger than others and some
focus more on hardware than software and some take on social justice
issues and politics. More and more hackers are connecting and igniting
friendships at hacker conferences and camps. Getting a hackerspace star-
ted is full of challenges and setbacks, but I hope that when you read these
stories of hackerspace beginnings, you'll be inspired to gather a few hackers
together, find a space, and start scheming to make awesomeness happen!
It's been ages since we started working on this brief history of hacker-
spaces time, and we wanted it finished in only two weeks - fail, I give you
that! However, the message we wanted to get across along these pages is
still the same, and will hold true for another couple of years even. And that
is the message of the beginning: Hackers, get started!
Whether starting up a new hackerspace, finding the right people, or
gaining momentum is a task as easy as pie or a second, third and fourth
dayjob all in one massively depends on surroundings, timing, people,
and most above all, chance; the following examples from hackerspaces
all around the world therefore shall not be misunderstood as a guideline
- they are rather examples of how things could go, how challenges have
been worked out, and of course, the awesomeness that will ensue.
With this brief intro and my deepest apologies I am not gonna waste
you hackers' precious time any longer and send you right off to the first
chapter! Also: That what he said.
/CCC\ Berlin 006
/Chaos\ Mainz 014
/CC\ Itzehoe 022
/Das\ Labor 024
/rest\ of\ w
/netculture\ lab\ MAMA 041
/MakersX Local\ 256 044
/The\ Hackatory 046
/HackerX Consortium 048
/NYC\ Resistor 052
/Sugar \ Shack 057
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
/CowtownX Computer \ Congress
/p 1 a n n e d \/c losed
/PumpingX Station :\ One
/L0pht\ Heavy\ Industries
/The\ HackerX HalfwayX House
/A\ short\ history \ of\ the\ CCC
/HackerSpace\ Design \ Patterns
/Hacker botLabs:\ The\ Taglines
/NetzladenA The\ 23\ Golden \ Rules
/NYCResistor:\ The\ Interviews
/The\ Conscience \ of\ a\ Hacker
/CookingX with\ Club\ Mate
/Celebrities\ on\ Club\ Mate
Location: Berlin, Gernany
The Chaos Computer Club is a unique organisation in many ways. I am
not going to talk about the CCC being the biggest and oldest of all hacker
organisations and I also am not going to talk about how it has managed to
actually address a broad part of German society and successfully fight the
bad image of hackers that the media is creating.
The most remarkable part of the CCC is its unwillingness to be
organized. Decentralization and a lack of hierachy might be one of the
strongest forces that make the club withstand every tendency to dissolve
and disintegrate. Instead, after almost thirty years of existance, the CCC
is still a thriving and growing community of individuals that regularly
manages to reinvent itself.
The CCC grew up in Hamburg in the Eighties. After a meeting at ex-
ternal locations for a while, a club room was found and populated. It was a
rather tiny and dense space with a couple of small rooms that were usually
filled up with all kind of devices, manuals and computer magazines. It ma-
naged to attract a few but it was more a bureau than it was an actual space
to create projects in. Years went by and the CCC had to survive a couple of
crisises. In the early Nineties, it was time for a change. But it did not happen
in Hamburg. It happened where change had found a new home: in Berlin.
In Berlin people from east and west quickly met after the wall came
down. A computer conference (CoCon) was set up even before the two
Germanys united in late 1990 and the base for a new CCC was laid out:
the CCC Berlin. There were many places where the weekly meeting (on
every Tuesday) took place. But somehow these places retained the style of
the original location in Hamburg: people gathered once a week to talk but
rarely met to discuss projects of any kind outside of the weekly roundup.
Things started to change when the CCC moved to its fourth location in
1998 at Marienstrasse 11 in Berlin Mitte.
The new location was a former capenter's workshop. The main room
was on ground level with a door to the backyard. The initial infrastructure
was not bad but still not a huge improvement over the previous locations.
However, the time had come to finally provide the place with a permanent
/wo rid ye urope /g e r na n y y C CC\. Berlin
Internet connection. It wasn't fast, but it did exist And it made a huge
difference as people flocked to use the place as their own private Internet
cafe and workspace. The new CCC Berlin location suddenly flourished and
managed to gather its gifted members around a big table more than just
once a week.
The CCC Berlin has always been an extraordinary place to meet
extraordinary people. Technical questions were rarely left unanswered
and there was a strong urge to follow up on what was going on with the
society and politics while following the latest trends in technology. It is
this strong spirit of responsibility for society that always made the CCC
so different from other technology-related groups. It's never just about
the toys - it's always about what happens when the toys will be applied to
society. Things are always under scrutiny under discussion, under attack.
Nothing is taken for granted and everything needs to be revisited, taken
apart, looked closer at.
The new location helped to bring the group together and the growing
friendship in return made the space flourish and evolve. Later on, the
rooms were significantly renovated. The cellar below that so far had only
served as a storage area was connected to the main room via a huge
staircase. There was a completely new kitchen and a place for a server
room. Tools and machines were donated and installed for everyone to
use. A much better Internet connection did its part and after a while the
CCC Berlin became so lively and active that it attracted lots of other CCC
members and fans from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. People
dropped by, stayed for a couple of days and left the place slightly confused
but heavily inspired. For a while, the situation became totally hippiesque.
The club rooms became so cozy and comfortable, serving the general
geek with everything he or she needed from food to connectivity to
music and comfy sofas that people started not to leave the place at all. Or
rather: leaving the Club felt as if you were leaving a very good party and
returning later on felt like „coming home". At one point the club never got
deserted at all. It had achieved 24/7 activity. You could come whenever
you wanted and there was somebody hacking away. A hacker's dream.
Of course, this lifestyle doesn't come without problems. But it is usually
not really complicated to deal with it as long as you maintain a common
sense of the „commons" of your hacker space. At CCCB we still maintain
the weekly meeting where anything that annoys people is brought up and
usually decided upon so things won't get out of hand. But all these trou-
bles are nothing compared to what the warmth of the space is donating to
each member's life. It's a hangout, but it's also a newsroom. It's a space for
relaxation but also for strong activity. The space serves both for regulars
and newcomers and is also a place for doing public events or private
partys. It's totally worth it and it must be maintained.
After some time, the CCC Berlin became the envy of other groups
and they decided to have their own hacker space. Most notably, the C4
in Cologne and the Metalab in Vienna took their share of inspiration
from the CCC Berlin - and also the c-base in Berlin that is hacker space
of another kind albeit not directly CCC-related (but with lots of people
being members of both clubs). The CCCB has also been a home base for
the birth and rebirth of certain events of the Chaos Computer Club most
notably the Chaos Communication Congress (that moved from Hamburg
to Berlin in late 1998) and the open-air version of the Congress: the Chaos
Communication Camp. Without the club rooms it would have been im-
possible to organize these supersized hacker conventions. The rooms were
both a meeting and a recruiting space. Whoever looked capable of doing
something was sworn in on-site and assigned to tasks he or she liked to
do. The CCCB spirit eventually spilled over into Congress and Camp and
made these two events some of the most important and defining events
of the hacker movement.
It's worth noting that CCCB is just one of many CCC hacker spaces
today. Every city adds its own genuine flavour to how the local community
is shaped and acting and it's the difference in culture and ideas that cross-
influences the CCC community as a whole. It is a friendly competition of
cozyness and crazyness that keeps the CCC young and fresh. The hacker
space idea has hugely contributed to this and strongly defines the global
hacker movement in the 21st century. While the Internet has opened
intercontinental communication it has actually made the the case for real
physical meetings spaces where you can attach faces to e-mail addresses.
While a global village has been the vision from the start it is the hacker
spaces where this dream becomes reality.
Location: Berlin, Gernany
Tagline! "Be future conpatible"
Me b I www . c — base . org
In August 1995, Hardy Krause found a shard of space wreckage in
central Berlin. It had the words „c-base project - be future compatible"
engraved on it. Carbon dating revealed that it was over 100.000 years old.
Since this discovery c-base researchers have been working to reconstruct
the crashed space station this shard was a part of and eventually lift off.
A first analysis revealed a c-shaped architecture with seven rotatable
circles. The center of the station is located under today's „Alexander-
platz". The already reconstructed area of about 700 m2 provides several
laboratories, research and construction areas and a culture deck. The
„Fernsehturm" was part of the space station and was occupied by the
GDR government. We notice that many people are astounded when they
realize the amount of research that has gone into the history of the space
station. Returning visitors notice the ongoing reconstruction work. The
„c-base e. V" has been founded for exploring and reconstructing this space
station and making it publicly available. This non-profit association has be-
come a knowledge pool and place for ideas with a multiplicity of scientific;
technical and future-oriented people.
The implemented projects are diversified: conventions, art festivals for
movies and media, theater, concerts, film productions, radio, open source
software releases. Regular weekly events are held in the space station
and cover topics such as the construction of antennas for the wireless
„Freifunk" project, the „Open Stage" for musicians, the„Go Lounge"
for players of the ancient board game Go, a table for 3D engineers, and
Ubuntu workshops. Tradions at the c-base include the annual participation
in, „transmediale", „Chaos Communication Congress", the „World Towel
Day", „World Space Week", and the Spacemeal - a Space Food Design
C4 Chaos Conputer Club Cologne
Tag 1 ine I
"The Hestern bridgehead
of innovative applica-
tion of technology with
all the features you'd
expect in the Chaos"
koe In . ccc . de
h 1 1 p I //k oeln.ccc .de
C4 started in 1997, when the fact that the self-proclaimed 'media capi-
tal of Germany', Cologne, didn't have a space for hackers to make things
became unbearable. The name C4 is short for 'Chaos Computer Club
Cologne', not the plastic explosive of the same name. After a brief odyssey
through other locations, the group settled down in its current space in
1999 and expanded to the present size in 2003. The initial vision was to
create a place where those who associated with the Chaos Computer
Club could work together on projects, be it software, hardware, or civil
rights in the digital age. This idea continues to work today.
When the C4 started, it was hard to gain momentum. Getting the
critical mass of people to pay the rent turned out to be a problem though.
Finding a room for the hackerspace involved scouting, good connections,
and luck. As a member puts it, 'Probably every budding hackerspace will
think this is harder in their city than in other cities, but it's actually the
same everywhere.' The C4 is now located in the basement of the former
'Kartonagenfabrik' (cardboard packaging factory) in Cologne-Ehrenfeld,
which surely doesn't help against warm air in summer at all. At a total of 111
square meters in size, the space provides ample room for a couple dozen
regulars (members as well as non-members), but bigger events like their
popular monthly event OpenChaos already strain the capacities.
/wo rid ye urope /g e r na n y y C 4
Once a week, a members-only meeting is held to deal with administra-
tive work. The space is open on most other days, with a public meeting on
Thursdays. During school vacations, the space frequently operates 24/7.
Some of these times there are scheduled talks, sometimes people work
on projects, or they just hang out and talk. The C4 is a place to hack, cook,
and even do your laundry.
The Cologne hackerspace can be proud of quite a few happenings:
One of the first public demonstrations against internet censorship in
Germany arose from the C4 - 'We actually made nerds walk the streets!';
in 1999 they put together the 'HackschifP (hackship) tour which cruised
the river Rhine with 200 hackers and a network full of wonders; the youth
project series U23 shows young talents the hacker inside them; and it is
the birthplace of the famous historic document 'Hacker Space Design
Patterns' any hackerspace enthusiast should' ve studied at least once in
his life. But almost definitely, the greatest achievement is that the C4 folks
have been running their hackerspace in a sustainable way for more than
Asked for the most terrible disaster they ever experienced, a member
recalls the following incident: 'We once had a fire in the server room! In
early 2006 a fire emerged from wastepaper in a trashcan in our server
room. The fire was detected by our neighbors and put out quickly by the
local fire squad. Not much was damaged by the fire itself but the smoke
residuals stuck to everything and anything so we had to refurbish the
whole lab. We washed all and every surface, cleaned all objects including
servers and our library of ancient hacker literature (yes, books!), repainted
all walls and threw out damaged stuff.' Minor catastrophes also involved
the (very brief) period of time when C4 ran out of Club-Mate and hackers
ran amok. In more than 10 years of its existence though, a shortage of
Club-Mate luckily only occurred once.
Location: Dresden, Gernany
Tagline! "Kabelsalat ist gesund'7
"Cable salad is healthy"
When C3D2 began, the idea was familiar from places like CCCB and
Netzladen because Fukami has been there and all others liked it very
much. The vision was to have a place to meet and, /to nerd". The first
space was called „Buro" (Office) because it sounds like dusty folders and
would hopefully scare off the impatient.
Founding a legal body was the first obstacle at the beginning because it
was opposed by many due to disagreements of legal statements and legal
bodies in general. Nevertheless, they had to do it. The second obstacle was
that the first space belonged to a person's flat. That didn't go well because
of personal circumstances - it is really recommend for every new hacker-
space to get a place independent from a single person as soon as possible.
A lot of new people are scared by the fact that everybody just sits in
front of their laptop and chatter among people is scarce. Others some-
times feel annoyed by people talking bullshit. But if people can get around
the nerdish atmosphere they can have a lot of fun.
In the hackerspace, there is a soldering place and a ton of unused,
half -working hardware. People smoke in the server room and there are
2 fridges with fresh Club-Mate, so every Club-Mate addict is happy. The
WiFi and Ethernet networks have IPv6 and are connected to people's
home networks via OpenVPN <& BGP There's also a very annoying Wii
console that nobody plays with.
/wo rid ye urope /g e r na n y y C 3 D 2
C3D2 meets weekly on the so-called y/ Chaos Tuesdays", like most other
German (CCC) hackerspaces and occasionally more often.
C3D2 is not billed for electrical energy and once the landlord was
shocked to discover our server farm and thought the recent rise in power
usage on this floor was explained That resulted in some stress until an
artist neighbor with a kiln was discovered.
According to a member, there's way too few things happening there.
They do monthly radio shows and multiple „topic evenings" a year, but
that's not really connected to the space. They also organize an event once
ayear called „Datenspuren" (translates to something like data traces). This
event is mainly dedicated to politics and technology.
If you're interested in starting your own hackerspace, they advise that
you find cool geeks with time. Ideas are something a lot of people have.
kontaktGccc nz . d e
www. cccnz . de
fnordfunk.ccc nz . d e
It all started five years ago, when a few students met at the physics
department of the local university Once a week, half a dozen of people
would gather to talk about technical stuff, and right from the beginning
it got clear that only a room where one can meet, hack on projects and
hang out could solve a number of problems. The meetings took place in
a lecture room with a sterile atmosphere, and there was only one person
with a key to the physics department. Jf you were late you had to call the
guy with the keys to get into the building because after the agreed time
for the meeting he had to close the entrace to the department." Since not
every visitor of the meeting was a student of physics, students had to share
their internet access with them, which ended in the physics guy having to
type in his own password for the WiFi of the physics department. Things
were horrible, but they got worse when the physics guy left the city in
order to study in another town. So they had to find another place where
they could meet.
There was a small pub on campus which was run by a few students,
so they settled down at the pub. With the move, they started calling their
meeting „Chaostreff // to clarify the connection to the Chaos Computer
Club. When their club was offically registered, it was named CCC Mainz
(CCCMZ) to keep this very connection. They started to look out for dedi-
cated rooms where they could meet, since a pub is a terrible place for talks
and hands on sessions. „At least we got some experience in the TCP/IP
drinking game." They found a room which they could use free of charge,
once a week. It was in a local youth center, whose main goal was to give
young people from social hotspots a place to meet. They had a number of
bizarre situations with the young folks at the youth center: „l will probably
never forget the chat with a few guys from the youth centre about
/wo rid /e urope /g e r na n y / C haos\ Ma i n z
programming languages, where some guy asked us to talk in C Not to
mention the strange situations with Club-Mate." From the beginning
on they had the feeling that it was not the right place to meet, and after
a few weeks they had to move to another room in the center which
was full of television sets. First everybody was excited about the TVs,
since they had the impression they were in some evil media lair, but:
„hell it was frustrating. Hacking on stuff in a storage room. Forget it."
They had the urge to change the situation and to find another
place to meet. In Wiesbaden, a neighboring city of Mainz, they knew
a few people who had started a alternate culture center - a place
where artists, musicians and creative people could meet in order to do
their stuff. It was the beginning of something new. From then on they
had a place where they could meet and work in a more comfortable
environment. They started with 8 regulars at that place, and nowa-
days they reach numbers of more than twenty. They decided to rent
additional space in the building and started to transform the building
into a hackerspace. Thus far, they are still a quite young hackerspace,
„but once the infrastructure is in place, it'll be really great." They've
randomly found a shower behind a wall in their Club-Mate cellar, which
lead to much rejoicing.
Their location is a wonderful place to get in touch with other
people. It was the birthplace for their own radio show and they also
got in touch with people who helped them to do Lego Mindstorms
courses for kids - in cooperation with the city's youth welfare office.
Besides working on the infrastructure, other projects include an 1000
LED cube, an autonomous rover and a POV display project. They are
also working on getting their newly acquired vending machine online
and they have started a photography group which is building flash light
arrays and other light toys to implement LAPP projects.
There are regular meetings on every Sunday starting 15.00 and
Tuesday starting 19.00 o'clock. At these meetings, they either work on
their projects or are just chatting about tech stuff and drinking Club-
Mate. They also have weekend events called Braindump and Geekend
which are announced on their website. Please feel most welcome to
vorstandGccchb . de
http: //ccchb . de
We, the Chaos Computer Club Bremen, Germany own a little place
we like to call the Datengarten which roughly translates into datayard or
datagarden. Well, on second thought we do not actually own it in the
strictest sense, but we have certainly made it our own.
The Datengarten is an allotment with a house in a suburban area
of Bremen, surrounded pretty much by other allotments, an out-of-
business railroad track and untamed nature. Once upon a time, in a dark,
pre-broadband time there was a war which left a good part of the town
destroyed and many people without a place to live. Some of these people
just went and build houses on land that had previously been allotments.
The problem, however, is that this happened without construction per-
mits. Remember this all takes place in the wonderful nation of Germany,
where we hail bureaucracy and order. So after a while the city rather
wanted to get rid of these disorderly squatters. Policy was to not kick
people out of their houses but to wait until they moved somewhere else,
leaving the place empty and therefore eligible for demolition by the city.
However, in our case the dire financial situation of the town of Bremen
plays to our advantage. The city doesn't know when they'll have the time
and more importantly the money to tear down the place. This is why the
owner and previous inhabitant has given it to us to do as we please until
the bulldozers come a-rolling, for the symbolic rent of one whole euro per
month (considering that won't even buy you a full liter of gas over here,
that's pretty generous).
When we first visited the place it was rather run-down and, well, gross.
But soon a group of volunteers began to take care of the most pressing
issues under the tight regiment of Sven, the Datengarten's daddy smurf.
Being a bunch of nerds, it was generally perceived that the most urgent
of all these issues was of course to provide internet access for the masses
pilgrimaging to the Datengarten. We installed power, internet access,
tidied up both yard and the inside of the house (to a reasonable level) and
formed a tight bond with the neighbors. Ok, to be frank we were off to a
rather uneasy start due to the fact that these neighbors are mainly elderly
people (the type that puts up lawn gnomes in their front yards) and we
are mostly long haired nerdy creatures who drive their cars too fast past
their allotments, light up furniture in our garden (but only that ONE time)
and play loud music. We had weekly barbecues in the summer months,
painted posters for protest marches, stored retro hardware, had ghost sto-
ry readings and a celebration after the world didn't end back in October
when CERN pressed that button. Mainly we are just our fabulous geeky
selves, always having a full stock of Club Mate and Beck's beer in the fridge.
To this day, the Datengarten remains a work in progress. But we really
hope the city's financial management doesn't improve anytime soon and
the Datengarten will therefore live to see a couple more summers.
r r *l
Location: Bonn, Gernany, Europe
Tagline! "Raun fuer selbstyer-
waltete Technik, Kultur
und Po lit ik"
Me b I h 1 1 p I //n etzladen . org
The Netzladen was founded because of the lack of places where you
could meet and follow your projects and have free internet access as
well. The opportunity to found the Netzladen presented itself when the
anarchist union FAU needed a financial partner to further afford the rent
of their domicile. The „Freie Arbeiterlnnen Union" (FAU) and members
of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) together had organized a demons-
tration against Internet censorship that had been a huge success. The
Netzladen is now open for all kinds of projects - not only technological -
that need space and Internet at the same time.
As with many other such ventures the main obstacles were to
prioritize as well as to get the funding started. There were political and
bureaucratic obstacles, too. Nowadays the funding is not an issue anymore
and the political obstacles from the past are what makes the Netzladen so
The Netzladen is everything for everyone as well as open for anything
free and self-organized. Not only the processes of finding new projects
and friends is open to all members but also the differences between
every one project enriches the whole venture. The members range from
political activists to intellectual literature nerds to the technological geeks
and Linux wizards one might see in other hackerspaces. The Netzladen is
very much about the people who meet there on a regular basis. Meetings
usually range from once a month up to once a week. Fridays are open to
everyone from every involved project and Saturdays and Sundays may be
booked for social events like parties, birthdays or just hanging out together.
The Netzladen recently had to be renovated because the 2nd floor
partially came down. Nobody was hurt, but still this woke everyone up
and reminded us that it was time to fix some open architectural issues.
/wo rid /e urope /g e r na n y / H etzladen
The Netzladen is strong in political areas like small unions and the
fight against Internet censorship. The MirBSD project had its roots in the
Netzladen and some Mac security exploits were discovered here, too. I
think what everybody in the Netzladen can be proud of is the annual inter-
national open source conference FrOSCon that has been very successfully
organized by some of the main members of the Netzladen for the past
If you're going to start a hackerspace, I think it's essential to believe
in the project and carry on even if others doubt you - there are always
people who doubt the success of such a big venture, but you are the ones
who can make it happen.
Location: Karlsruhe, Gernany
Me b I h 1 1 p I //e ntropia . de
Back in 1998, some people wanted their own Chaos Computer Club
meeting in Karlsruhe, and so a Chaostreff was born. After meeting regu-
larly for a while, people wanted to have a permanent place to meet and
hack stuff. Finally in 2001, they found a neat little place in the Gewerbehof,
a self-run facility providing space for several social initiatives, a community
radio and businesses. The very same year - now settled down -, the now
called Entropia became the official fraction of the Chaos Computer Club
in Karlsruhe. In order to have a legal status, an incorporated club with no
hierarchy and elected leaders was founded just for the sake of legality.
^*^ — ^w
Like so many other hackerspaces, the main problem Entropia en-
countered in the beginning was money, so members tried to find some
dot-com companies that would sponsor the institution. Also, they had
to struggle with German law-of-associations bureaucracy which in the
end was defeated. As of today, Entropia is able to fund itself by monthly
membership fees of six to ten Euro, depending on whether a member still
has student status or not.
So what do Entropianists get for their membership? Generally, the
space is open 24/7 for keyholding members, whom they affectionately call
/wo rid ye urope /g e r na n y y E ntropia
„the regulars". While they're open to visitors whenever a member
is at the hackerspace, new people are traditionally encouraged to
stop by on Sunday evenings; but of course everyone is also invited
to come over for irregurarly held gatherings like lectures, workshops,
People at Entropia are especially proud of their annual hacker
meeting „Die GulaschProgrammierNacht" (the goulash program-
ming night), which attracts about 120 attendees each year. Additional-
ly lots of small projects are conducted and procrastinated at all times
by groups or individual members with very diverse interests.
When not partying, members mostly engage in putting the
soldering irons to use and messing with the oscilloscope to build
blinking, annoying - and sometimes useful devices. What catches the
immediate attention of visitors though is the huge amount of awer-
some [sic!] old-skool hardware lying about that has been amassed
over the years. However unfortunately, it isn't functional at ail-
Besides that, cute party leftovers serve as decorative elements. You'd
be amazed of the assembled collection of a mind-blowing spectrum
of music they have at their fingertips!
Apart from creating a hackerspace with just a few lazy students
and almost no budget, there surely have been other challenges
Entropia had to face over time. One of these a member recalls as
„Once (ok, twice) the windows were left open during an evil Ger-
man storm. The Mac filled with water, and during a reconnaissance
mission it switched on due to the special electrical characteristics of
water. This caused the death of many a piece of innocent hardware.
And the carpet was completely destroyed. Ever since, Entropians
only refer to this disaster as„The Incident" and now are in the process
of deploying N.E.R.D.S, an No-Incident Early Response Detection
Creating such a hacker space is easy, he notes, if you follow these
simple rules: Gather as many people as possible, and abstain from
hierarchies or leaders.
Location: Itiehoe, Gernany
Tagline! ft group of specialists
Me b I h 1 1 p I //www .cciz.de
The Computer Club Itzehoe started as a 'Linux User Group' around
the year 2000. At that time, some guys got together to teach each
other something about Linux and Open Source. The amount of people
participating increased fast and so to accomodate this fact - alongside
some financial reasons - they decided to become an 'official club', called
an 'eingetragener Verein' in German. In order to acquire this status in
Germany an organization has to fulfill specific qualifications. For example,
CC Itzehoe had widen their focus towards a broader range of activities
and topics. Therefore, the Linux User Group became the Computer Club
Itzehoe, Itzehoe being the small town in Northern Germany they're loca-
ted at. After this transformation, users of other operating systems started
joining the club as well. One main goal evolved: Experiencing computers
and helping others to do the same. Asked about a motto on what they call
their 'technical foolings', a member points out, 'Why are we doing that?
Because we can!'
While the CC Itzehoe is a respectably sized hackerspace today, one
of the obstacles in the beginning lay within finding suitable premises that
would fulfill its members' needs. What they learned then, was that 'when
you find a space, hierarchy and rules will follow'.
The location now consists of three rooms and a bathroom: A smaller
one, the 'members room', is set up as the place where all members and
/wo rid ye urope /g e r na n y y C C\. Itzehoe
guests alike can sit together in front of their computers to 'do their thing'.
The second, slightly bigger room serves as a group working area with desks
and couches, and is mainly used by members working on various projects
side by side, or just eating pizza. Next to that, an inventory - equipped with
all kinds of hardware one can possibly think of - is located; it also holds the
workshop area <& electronics lab, where all required tools and the space
needed for soldering or repairing devices can be found. Also in this room,
visitors may have a look at what members of the space enthusiastically
refer to as 'the nostalgic area': a collection of computers from the past
>20 years, featuring for instance Atari and VAX. The third room acts as a
training classroom for meetings.
General meetings happen once or twice a week. There is no specific
schedule set for these gatherings, so everyone can do whatever they
want - like working alone or in groups on projects, seeking help with
problems, finding people interested in similar subjects, or just meeting nice,
like-minded people to chat with. A member of CC Itzehoe comments
on the community aspects of the hackerspace, At the moment, I'm most
proud of the wide knowledge we can provide. Every guest with a question,
regardless of the topic, always finds someone who can answer it. So in our
town we got a reputation as a kind of group of specialists.'
To sum it all up, the Computer Club Itzehoe writes, 'I think the start
of our hackerspace was some kind of luck. Some People met and got on
with each other, so they started a club. For the following growth of our ha-
ckerspace in the past years, the press was a great help I think. Especially in a
small town like ours, you can reach people over a local newspaper. A small
article about your hackerspace or perhaps about an actual topic, every six
months or so, can be very helpful.'
Location: Bochun, Gernany
When asked about the very beginnings of their hackerspace, Jorg from
Das Labor gets a little sentimental. As of the end of 2008, the space just
moved over to a new, larger location: 'Many people were working to make
that happen, some of them were already there in Februrary 2005, when
Das Labor was founded, others joined more recently. So in effect, this is like
talking about ancient history at a time when new things emerge/
Back in January 2005, no coherent group was actively working on
building a hackerspace in the region. Several small groups, some of them
having monthly meetings in pubs in that area (e.g. the Linux User Group
and a local offspring of the Chaos Computer Club) had loose interaction
over various mailing lists. And there were highly motivated students from
the newly founded faculty for IT-Security at the University Bochum. But
suddenly, there was an opportunity to rent a part of a building, approx.
70 square meters, in sublease. Like an avalanche, they tried to reach as
many people as possible, very much in a hurry for there was another
applicant for the room - an alternative music store. Eventually it was
a coin flip which decided in favor of Das Labor and against the music
store. Jorg reminisces about that time, 'One point, which could also
have turned into a major problem for us, in fact turned out to be a
great strength: when we initially visited the potential hackerspace, most
of us met for the very first time. But the place looked perfect for our
purposes, it was an energizing meeting and we soon knew that we
wanted to try it. So we had to rapidly distribute responsibility among
people who hardly knew each other. Everybody was eagerly invited to
participate - 'Go ahead, try it! If it works well do it that way' was the
generally accepted approach. In only two sessions we managed to set
up our tinkering place, agree on our current name and logo and legally
register our club. We distributed access rights so quickly that we totally
lost track about who is a key-owner to the place and who is not! The
name 'Raum 5' was, for various reasons, a high ranking candidate for
quite some time/
The space itself also serves as a meeting and working place for
various other independent groups, including open source user
groups for example. Workshops, talks and other events are frequently
announced on the front page ofwww.das-labor.org. Das Labor is open
and frequented almost every day for tinkering or just keeping in touch
and hanging around. Currently, organizational meetings, where most
strategic decisions are made, are held only once a month on Thursdays;
but in general, most topics - organizational as well as technical ones -
are discussed on the mailing list.
Since the early days, Das Labor members are working on a lot of
projects in the area of embedded systems. A CAN bus is connecting
gadgets distributed all over the place, used for light and plant automa-
tion and for fun. 'Blinken-stufT, in particular some fully controllable
3-dimensional LED cubes called 'Borgs', are built using microcontrollers
or FPGAs. Other topics of constant high interest among hackerspace
members involve cryptography, computer and network security in ge-
neral, operating system design, retro-computing and even lock-picking.
Location: Leipzig, Gernany
Tagline! "nedia — tech — polls"
Me b I h 1 1 p I //www . sublab . org
The vision, as described by members, was ,/to have a space for geeking
out, hanging around while talking bleat, laughing about xked, and finding
„anonymous against" funny. Besides all that, we wanted to do some serious
work for a mature information society. We stand against humans losing all
control over their privacy and personal data. We want to be educating kids
and teachers how free software can work and what huge society impact
it can and will have on the world in the near future. All the nerds, geeks,
haxen, freefunkers, drone-flyers, clandestine bastlers, media tweakers, fm
and spectrum activists and society utopists can join forces in our space."
When Kloschi, one of the founding members, returned to Leipzig
from 24C3 (2007), he was intent on finding people and setting up a space
to geek around in a nice atmosphere. „At least I needed it, expected the
other folks in Leipzig to need it, and was sure the city of Leipzig itself
needed it badly"
After talking to the Freifunk people and the guys from c3le, the ages-
old wish of having a hackerspace came closer to reality. All they had to
do was generalize the ideas behind a hackerspace and give it a go. They
decided not to have a space in the name of a specific group, but create the
space as roof for all projects in and around Leipzig.
While having this vision, a floor in the former fittings factory was found
and a quick call to participation among all the cities' groups and mailing
lists brought up enough enthusiasm, money and manpower to give it a go.
Suddenly everything happened at once, renting, renovating and setting
up the non-profit association. They have 250 square meters, with a main
hall and five other rooms, which will eventually evolve into workshops,
teaching rooms and a lounge.
Even though most renovations were finished in 2008, the heating
system is still a bit of an issue. But the only obstacles which came up in
the course of the inception allegedly was them fighting their own narrow
mindedness while trying to establish alternative structures.
There is a weekly ^Kaffeeklatsch" open to the public on Sundays, and
other groups meet once a week.
: Location '.
Uienna, Austria ;
1 Tag 1 ine I
"open center for Met a— I
and technical-creative *
| Contact I
coreGnetalab . at «
Metalab got started after they saw some inspirational examples of
hackerspaces and geek culture at CCC and c-base in Germany. Vienna
didn't really have much to offer in that regard, and they dreamed of a place
to meet and collaborate on projects. What they really wanted was a public
living room or laboratory where people could meet and work with friends
- without having to go to a cafe, pub or workplace. Their vision wasn't ex-
actly the same as the German hackerspaces - while their spaces and focus
had grown historically over decades, Vienna had nothing comparable at
that point. So they just tried to gather all the cool people they could find,
with skills and interests as diverse as possible, and told them they wanted
to build a space together.
Their name developed from the fact that they wanted to have a
Jaboratory", but one for all kinds of things and projects. They aimed to
create an environment encompassing a plurality of interests, professions
/world/europe/rest\ of\ w /Hetalab
and genders, thus Metalab. Their logo depicts a phone booth - old school,
public-access technology that has certain mythical qualities in fiction
(examples include Dr. Who's TARDIS that serves as a gateway into other
worlds, and Clark Kent turning into Superman in a phone booth).
Setting up Metalab turned out to be an educational task for the two
founders, which at the beginning were faced with tasks that seemed
overwehlming. Early on, though, they brought in more people, and with 30
to 40 backers, the decision to rent a room, which wouldVe been very risky
without such support, was taken.
The first big discussion, and one of very few that had to be resolved by
a vote, was the smoking policy in the lab. Should smoking be allowed, for-
bidden, or confined to a certain room? If so, what size of room? To avoid
endless discussion, people all voiced their respective opinions at a meeting,
and then proceeded to vote. A temporary solution ended up becoming
the permanent one, and now their lounge (where the gaming consoles
are, and movies are watched) is the designated smoking area.
They established the infrastructure - power outlets, the kitchen,
the floor etc. - step by step, while actively using the space. This led to an
endless Sokoban game, where certain rooms became unusable for many
months at a time. It was unavoidable, since they did not have the financial
power to fix everything at once. It took a long time until the infrastructure
for membership administration and (automatic) bank collection was
established. Usually, nobody wants to do these „boring" tasks, because
people prefer to hack or slack. If you can, build the stuff before moving in -
afterwards you'll have your hands full with work.
People who visit the hackerspace will note that it's a very creative, if
somewhat disorganized space. Self-built machines, huge paintings on the
walls, whiteboards where people express their thoughts. Many details of
the decoration refer to the culture the inhabitants all grew up with, for
example the blinking Space Invaders in the lounge. They have a small but
well-equipped workshop and make room for tools, computers, and audio
hardware. They also have a fully stocked kitchen, which sees lots of use.
There's also the LED Matrix, a 72x48 blue LED matrix. They have a twitter-
enabled fridge and a constantly-evolving RepRap. Two of the smaller
rooms have color-shifting ceiling lights, and one of them can even be set to
exact RGB values.
The core/organization team (which is not clearly defined, so everyone
can join and take up tasks) meets monthly to discuss matters relevant to
the whole hackerspace, like current and future renovation projects and
equipment purchases. There are multiple special interest groups, which
meet more regularly and often spontaneously.
The lab itself is open every day usually for 24 hours. Every regular
member can get a key and people meet on a daily basis. Metalab was also
the place where the commercial web startups soup.io (personal publi-
shing), Mjam (food delivery) and art group Graffiti Research Lab Vienna
They've been lucky to be mostly free of disasters and accidents so
far. The worst one was when internet access was cut off for days (weeks
even!). While renovating the lounge and drilling holes in the floor, they
damaged the underfloor heating, resulting in a small fountain - lucky for
them the heating system operates under low pressure. Marius burned his
eyebrow on the 2007 hackercamp organized by the CCC while operating
their homemade potato gun. HonkHase hit a MIG fighter plane while
/world/europe/rest\ of\ w /Hetalab
riding a bike because the potato gun distracted him. Besides that, a few
valuable items (external harddrive, portable gaming devices) have gone
missing, possibly stolen. Regarding lightning: a strike has been observed on
the street directly in front of the lounge window. No disaster, though.
Asked about what they found crucial to success, they said that choo-
sing a central location in Vienna that is easily accessible by public trans-
portation was essential. In the outlying suburbs it's usually cheaper and
the neighborhood might be less sensitive, but it is a big advantage when
people can drop by easily after or before work, university, high school or
during their nightlife/leisure time activities.
A geeky hackerspace doesn't have to be restricted to coders or
electronics folks only. A proper inter-mixture is moar awesome. Don't
underestimate the need for storage space and don't pile up junk if space
is limited - everyone has broken old hardware at home, make sure they
keep it there.
If you're starting a hackerspace, they offer this advice: Don't give up if
people tell you that it's not possible. Most people only believe in what they
can touch. The same people (if they are geeks) will love the place once
they can touch it. Illustrate your vision with visual depiction where needed.
You can borrow such material from successful hackerspaces.
Don't establish too many rules. Decide issues when you need to - not
beforehand or just in case. Humans are most productive when they do the
things they want to do in an environment that encourages these things.
A hackerspace can approximate this sphere very well if everybody at least
cleans up their own dishes. Shared geeky interests can be a wonderful
thing. Let folks and groups decide on their own how to promote and
brand their work. It is important that the hackerspace doesn't act like a
octopus that eventually captures every credit. The hackspace should be
seen as basic utility but the work is done by individuals and not by the
infrastructure provider, it just happened in this rooms and environment.
Nobody has a problem to give credit for the latter and groups can build up
or keep their individual identity.
Tag 1 ine I
Graz, Austria, Europe
Tech, Love, Harnony and
the preservation of tra-
ditional Austrian coffee
and tea culture
r e a 1 r a u nG realraun.at
h 1 1 p I //r ealraun. at
There is no consensus on how the RealRaum came into existence.
Already it's been years and the truth has long since been forgotten in the
darkness of time. Some legends however, still remain. For instance, records
suggest that at some point time travel might have been involved. The club
„wirdorange" was actually created long before RealRaum. This is strange
because the clubs only purpose ever was to be RealRaum's legal entity.
Nobody remembers why and how this happened, not even the people
who signed the application.
According to another legend, RealRaum naturally came into existence
when members of the different Graz based projects: MKL, STG, grml, mur.
at and OxFF Graz discovered their need of a common base for their acti-
vities. Magic *Poof* Instant RealRaum. Yet another legend tells of a lone
code warrior, who came to Graz with the mighty vision of a RealRaum
ready in his mind and upon gathering fellow minded folk, proudly strode
forward to turn idea into reality.
Likely all three contain some grain of truth. Venturing back into the
harsh realms of reality, it is safe to say the idea was already lurking in their
heads a long time before it was realized. As for the name itself, the idea
was to have a real-life space for their projects. Thus, right from the begin-
/wo rid ye urope /r est\ of \. ,w y R ealRaun
ning „RealRaum" became the working title and later attempts at finding
a better name (ideas like „01 Graz", „Solaris", „abgestiirzte Magier"
came up) never quite evoked the same acquiescence. Ever since then,
the goal has been the advancement of Tech, Love, Harmony and the
traditional Austrian coffee and tea culture. The most notably result so
far is probably anytun (www.anytun.org), a secure anycast tunneling
The biggest obstacle they had to overcome was the room. Specifi-
cally getting enough people to pay the rent. So at first they actually had
no room, but held workshops at other locations. Later they rented an
old, small and somewhat hidden flat in the center of Graz.
They got tables, chairs, couches, many public IP addresses, native
IPv6, an USRF) a wide-screen projector, a network laboratory consisting
of 53 Cisco routers, SmartCard and RFD readers and other tools. Then
they set up their own XMPP and VoIP infrastructure and crafted their
custom made door control system. However they soon ran into pro-
blems with the landlord and also the combined costs for renovation
and the planned electronic laboratory. They solved those by moving
out. Right now they are in the process of setting up in a room at the
ESC (http://esc.mur.at/), a centrally situated building dedicated to
media art and cultural technology. The other problem they have to
deal with is that Graz is a commuting student town. Meaning, many
prospective members don't have much spare time during the seme-
ster and are not in town during lecture free times.
Currently they meet at least twice each month. Each month one
of the members holds a different presentation about anything they
like. So far this has sparked the Linguistic Weeks, presentations about
Security Incidents, Linux Networking, the creative uses of potatoes and
some really weird stuff. On top of that there are irregular social events
like cooking and gaming nights.
Finally, they found that the most important thing for a hackerspace
is to have motivated people with lots of time. The best way to get
them is to produce content, hold events and generally be visible.
Location: Paris, France, Europe
Tagline! "Creative Technology"
Me b I h 1 1 p I //www . t np lab . org
Amp/lab started when several french people (Jeremie, Florian, Philip-
pe, Benjamin, Xavier, Xeu, ...) met at Chaos Communication Camp 2007.
Everyone agreed that Paris was really lacking a hackerspace. They decided
to create something when they got back to Paris and called it Jelab".
The idea was to rent something by sharing costs amongst all the
hackerspace Members. Rent is quite expensive in Paris. They got an offer
three months later from an artist collective to have an artist space outside
of Paris, in the industrial suburb of Vitry Sur Seine. The building owner
temporarily gave them the space for no rent. The temporary nature of
this, plus the space's distance from the center of Paris discouraged some
people from the original group. Therefore, they gave the new space a
different name, ,,/tmp/lab", so that when they'd find a good spot in Paris,
they'd still be able to name it„Le Lab".
The little group composed of Xavier, Philippe, Sebastien, Rike, Florian
and Nico took possession of the space, and after much cleaning transfor-
med an underground workshop into an industrial-style hacker space in
November and December of 2007.
However important - even vital - it may be to develop a civil space for
technology creation and research, they didn't want the lab to become a
new institution. The name /tmp/lab was inspired on one hand by the idea
of the permatemp, the temporary that stays in place yet is still nomadic in
concept, and on the hand by the Unix tradition of open systems.
The first goal was to provide infrastructure, as the respected „Hacker
Space Design Patterns" presentation details, and let one thousand beau-
tiful projects blossom in this fertile environment: open source, hardware,
cultural and artistic events, activism, etc. They wanted everyone to see
the /tmp/lab and say „Oh.. it's simple, lets build one with my friends in my
Just one year after the opening of the /tmp/lab, it has already spaw-
ned a myriad of projects. Many new people are joining the group month
by month and just naturally connecting and cooperating.
They recently started to make more connections to local associations,
NGOs and journalists who support the idea of getting their privacy back.
Also, they are looking more actively for a new space in Paris where it will be
possible to develop many more projects.
When asked about their greatest issues with the space, „ln the
beginning the first difficulty was to keep the space tidy, ... it still is!" was the
first thing that popped to mind. But the main issue was that getting (and
keeping) a space in Paris is very difficult.
/wo rid ye urope /r est\ of \. ,w /\/t np \.y lab
Popular opinion designates the space asjooking quite industri-
al", not only due to the fact that it is located near a pharmaceutical
company that pollutes happily Some people also call itthe„Bunker"
because it's underground. Located near the railway tracks, a major
highway a fiber optic backbone and near the Seine river, this place is
indeed a networkjunction. ^Visitors might also comment on the size of
our space. 250 m2 is quite rare near Paris, everything being small. You
actually notice that about France as soon as you sit down in a French
As for hackerspace layout, the star is a microscope station for chip
reverse engineering, thanks to Karsten Nohl and the CCC There's a
place for /tmp/usine [making] and soldering. There's also a lounge,
two beds to crash when tired and a kitchen/bathroom/shower. Also
quite important is the sound system for parties etc. There's no wood
workshop, but there are other artist studios around for this kind of
The biggest disaster so far has been rats; they had to get rid of them
at the beginning of the lab. Ultrasonic worked well, but some people
said it was a bit too much like the Mosquito anti-teenager system. Also
they had their share of mosquitos, due to the underground location.
A lot of the building infrastructure is obsolete, and mastered by Xavier,
keeping it running. They had several issues with lighting the place
properly which still aren't resolved properly.
One member comments on their progress, The great things that
have come from the past year are great people, great contacts, good
parties, fun projects such as Consumer B Gone and the Hacker Space
And as advice they offer that, If you want to start a hackerspace -
start it now, think later! Seriously, the thing is that a hacker space can be
built anywhere and focus good energies. A tea ritual is also really good. It
keeps people and hearts warm!'
Location! Rotterdan, Netherlands
Tagline! "no bugs, just randon
moddr_ came about in 2007, when a group of students and graduates
from the Media Design MA course, at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotter-
dam, decided there was room for another „new media" place in the city
next to the already established and rather famous v2_lab. They wanted
to create a place that was more accessible to young artists and hackers,
without the need for overblown project descriptions and ridiculous
The name „moddr_" resembles the Dutch term „nnodder', meaning
mud, and the hackers chose this name to show that a large part of their
practice involved the modification and re-creation of already existing
technology. They tend to dislike the idea of contemporary media being
labeled „new', and it is part of their mission to display a critical perspective
on issues related to this through their artistic practice - basically the lab
consists of some very geeky fine-artists...
In terms of infrastructure, moddr_ are part of the WORM venue
in Rotterdam (http://wormweb.nl), which also holds analogue film
workshops, a sound studio, several online projects, and of course a good
bar and stage. One of the obstacles to tackle was the integration of the
hackerspace into WORM'S larger structure, something which they now
consider to be an ongoing process, and together with WORM, they now
organize events, gigs, meetings, and exhibitions a lot.
Basically it is a small studio space which moddr_ uses as an atelier.
It holds electronics, tools and equipment, networking facilities, a large
meeting/eating table, a garden with BBQand a tent for when it rains. No
moddr_ members work on a daily basis at the studio, however, they
also travel quite a bit, so sometimes it happens that nobody is at the space
for weeks. Going-on's in the space range from moderate productivity
to insane parties, making plans for world domination and scheming the
The Saga of the Whistling-Shit-Pipe; a bathroom renovation was
needed to prevent our toilet from bringing forth weird crappy sound in
The„Pirates of the Amazon' Firefox add-on (and consequent drama),
the ^ADAMACHINIMA' exhibition, the „Web2.0_Suicide_Machine', and
several workshops, events and parties we did...
Don't do it man. Better get a job.
Location: Brussels, Belgiun,
"ohn sweet ohn"
pieterCL 45 . b e
h 1 1 p I //h sb . wikidot . coi
Tag 1 ine I
To quote a founding member: „l (Pieter) had a space which I'm squat-
ting/rebuilding and been able to buy an old shop in Schaarbeek, Brussels,
named it voidpointer and organized some social/art events/meetings
there. Benjamin wanted to setup a Brussels hackerspace. [...] We're also
involved in the local wireless mesh network, which is the main common
interest for all of us for the moment. We just needed to give the whole
thing a go. We set up for a bootstrap meeting [in October 2008]; since
then we've been meeting monthly with unplanned meetings in between,
just building things during weekends."
They operate on a completely non-funded basis and all material is
either personal property lent from local artists' organization OKNO' or
The space is around 100 square meters. They've got a big window
facing the street which makes it easy to show off the things they've done.
They also have a little electronics lab (arduino, scope 50Mhz, soldering
irons and a lot of junk), a library (lots of tech books, engineering computer
science, science fiction). In the basement they've also got an atelier with
lots of tools (steel saw, TIG
welding station, wood
router and saw stuff).
The idea is to use
the space as coworking
space during the week (so
doubling it's use and get
some revenue rolling in...
„if all goes well") -- „though
this is just an idea for the
Activities range from
having a coffee and talking
about projects, assembling
workshops to actually buil-
ding stuff together. There's quite a few people involved from the creative
fields, so they spend quite some time into finding creative uses for those
technologies, building installation pieces etc.
There's no true manifesto of the space, other than everything is
permitted". Voidpointer only defines a location/address, but doesn't imply
the activities/structure of things happening.
Location: Madrid, Spain, Europe
Tagline! "Hackers Against "the
Mac h ine"
Contact! isaac.hacksi no vGpatio na -
raui 1 las . net
Me b I h 1 1 p I //p a t i o na ravi 1 las .
At the beginning the Hamlab was only a place where people could get
online with free software, but afterwards it evolved into a Hacklab, a place
where people get together to investigate with new technology and share
the good news of free software. They didn't choose the name, as one day
a guy came in with a ham leg and said that they weren't a Hacklab, but a
Hamlab. Proggresively more hacktivists from Madrid and abroad came to
join the hacklab and the space became a collective with various working
groups and projects.
The main obstacle at the beginning was getting the people involved.
They were only a few, but, with time, people started coming.
The hackerspace itself isn't big and has only two rooms: a big one for
meetings and working together, and another one mainly for servers and
as a warehouse. They also have a bathroom, and they're very proud of it.
The freakiest thing that they have is an arcade machine (using MAME), all
by the members.
They have two officials meetings every week: Tuesdays, for TRAS-
Hware (recycling old computers) and Thursdays, for meetings, where
they discuss their current projects. Every day, people are collaborating on
projects and playing with wireless communication, working on the arcade
machine or building websites.
The space floods occasionally. „lt's nothing big, but could be a disaster
someday." The worst thing is the humidity, which leads to a lot of static
electricity, so people occasionally get buzzed while working.
Asking the members, their greatest personal achievement is starting
the Hackademy. Basically they're lessons in free software, open for
everybody, free of charge. They've done more than 20 in December, from
Ubuntu installation, configuration and administration to working with
Inkscape, GIMF) Gnelerra, Kino, Blender, and Drupal.
Location: Cosenza, Italy, Europe
Tagline! Green bits — a relation-
ship between environment and tech-
Neb I http:yyverdebinario.org
VerdeBinario is a cultural association born in December 2002 and
located in southern Italy in the town of Cosenza.
The name^verdebinario" literally means „green bits" in Italian, with
their interest being focused on the relationship between environment and
technology. Since its early days, the association is working on two main
projects, both involving retired IT hardware retrieval and restore.
Their first project, ,Jhe Interactive museum of IT archaeology" is a per-
manent exhibit of historical computers, including mainframes, old PCs and
video game consoles. Visitors are welcome to interact with all the working
machines experiencing the feel of old systems, softwares and interfaces.
The exhibit includes many machines, ranging from big VAXen to early
Apple PCs, UNIX workstations, old IBM PC clones and vintage videogame
consoles. The museum is actually hosted in the hackerspace, but they plan
on moving it to a larger place in the future.
While looking for vintage hardware for the exhibit they immediately
noticed that many people were throwing away newer hardware, mainly
assembled x86 machines with no historical interest, but in good working
Quickly, a,Jrashware" project was started. They take all the PCs they
can and take them to their labs. Small hardware repairs and/or upgrades,
cleaning, and open source software bring them back to life and make
them ready again for use. They give all the PCs they restore to anyone
who needs them at a very small fee for covering the retrieval and work
costs - usually from 30 to 50 EU - and for contributing with verdebinario's
They use of their own trashware, mainly for the lab and for office use.
There is a small, free internet pool at their space, with 100% recycled hard-
ware and 100% free software. Aside from their museum and trashware
project, they promote cultural, educational and social events and hacker
net .culture club MAMA
Location: Zagreb, Croatia, Europe
Me b : h 1 1 p I //www .ni2.hr
In Croatia, the year 2000 marked the end of a period of intense natio-
nalism and social antagonism. There were many activist groups, including
human rights and peace activists, media activists, anti-globalists, anarchists,
and LGTB activists gaining access to internet. There was also a growing
number of non-institutional cultural initiatives that couldn't find access to
the space and infrastructure necessary for cultural production.
Intuiting that the future of political and cultural activism locally had
more to gain from the ability to meet in a face-to-face networking envi-
ronment than from mere deployment of new technologies, a group of
people behind the non-governmental organization „Multimedia Institute"
(MI2) decided to use an opportunity that they had at the time and open a
When they started, the obstacles included finding, adapting, and
maintaining space overyears in face of financial instabilities. Space is the
most scarce resource in Zagreb.
Today  in Zagreb, they are still one of only two independently
run venues available to local non-institutional activist groups and cultural
actors. They decided to adopt an open access' philosophy with their
resources: the computer stations, the servers, the A/V equipment, the
DJ decks and, most importantly, the screening/lecture space were made
available for other initiatives and organizations to use. Since they have ope-
ned up, MAMA has been functioning as a socio-cultural center, presenting
their own regular programs in new media art, media activism, film, music
and social theory, and hosting programs by other cultural organizations,
human rights initiatives and LGTB groups.
Immediately after they opened, a number of young DJs and music
makers started to gather regularly at MAMA. Thinking how to use that
emerging creative bubble and trying to understand the wider implications
of collaborative model of production without property in free software,
in 2001 they started they free works publishing project EGOBOO.bits
(http://www.egoboobits.net), which over time grew into a community of
over 50 music, film and literary creators with a substantial catalog of free
music, video and text available online. This eventually lead them to free
culture/software advocacy (they localized Creative Commons licenses
once they appeared) and free software development of their own, with a
particular interest to draw closer activist and technologist communities.
In 2004 the interest in connecting technologists and activists then lead
a smaller, and then gradually bigger and bigger, community of geeks and
hackers to meet in MAMA regularly every week on Saturday, Tuesday and
Thursday. Razmjena vjestina (/Skill sharings/) and G33koscope continue
to present day. In the form of Yet Another Hackmeeting of West and East
and Nothing Will Happen. These events expanded into regular hacker
camps where hackers mostly from the countries of the former Yugoslavia
netculture club MAMA has a lounge space, a screening/lecture room
fitting up to 50 people, a room with internet access terminals and an
office/server room. Their space is centrally located, has internet, a great
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
library with recent publications in theory, technology and art, cheap soda
drinks and coffee from the machine, and is warm, so many people - related
to things they do or not - drop by and hang at MAMA in armchairs. All
makers and creators have access to their A/V and computer resources,
while their skill sharers also have access to their server infrastructure.
A disaster that they had to deal with early on was an attack by skin-
heads in 2002 after MAMA helped organize events for the first Gay Pride
Parade in Zagreb.
Some things that have come out of their hackerspace that they are
most proud of are the communities including the free music collective
egoboobits, social theorists, local and regional skill sharing hacker commu-
nities and Nothing Will Happen camps.
They are resistant to nationalists in media, to nationalist institutional ist
cultural policies in Croatia, to recent gentrification, privatization of public
space and neoliberalisation of public governance in the city of Zagreb.
Key to their incursions was sharing their resources and continuously
searching for new unexplored forms of engagement. In addition, the key
to their work with the hacker community were three things: persistence,
Makers Local 256
Location: Huntsuille, Alabana, US
Tagline! "Exploring Creativityj
Ingenuity, and Resourcefulness."
Contact! chair na n G na kerslocal .org
Over a dinner in July of 2005, a group of friends in Huntsville, Alabama
decided it would be an interesting idea to do a guerrilla drive-in movie
theater Without the means to run one, the idea quickly fell to the wayside.
Ayear and a newly obtained projector later, the idea was remembered
and within two weeks Bring Popcorn was started. Soon a wiki was setup to
catalog new ideas so they weren't forgotten like before.
The creation of TechShop in late 2006 inspired the friends to set up
their own hackerspace to work on projects. On October 28th, 2006 the
first meeting was held to discuss projects and finding a space. At first,
work continued by meeting at someone's apartment every weekend until
major breakthrough came from everyone pledging a monetary amount
they would be willing to put forward monthly. In March 2008 a location
was finally found.
At 1100 square feet it isn't the biggest place in the world, but it's a start
to great things. The shop came with a fair number of fold-up tables to
work on, a microwave, and a few chairs. The space has since obtained a
refrigerator, a mounted 8'x4' whiteboard and two peg boards were put
to the walls, two shelving units for better storage were added, and the
chair population was expanded to include some more comfortable ones.
As a result, „this place looks a lot like my house" often comes from people
new to the space and it is generally taken as a compliment. As with any
growing organization, Makers Local 256 has outgrown the current space
and is currently in the process of finding a new one to accommodate new
membership and larger projects.
The name Makers Local 256 came from lengthy discussion before
finally settling on something that described what it was, where it was (256
/world/united\ states/Hakers\ LocaK 25G
being the local area code), and had a union-like sound to it. The initial goals
for the group have not changed since its inception: provide a place where
like minded individuals can work in an environment that inspires creativity
ingenuity resourcefulness and utilize the collected skill sets to get things
done. Makers Local 256 is a non-profit organization in the process of
becoming a 501(c)(3) because we believe in open source, pro community,
and helping people do amazing things.
As a non-profit, they are required to have a board and meet once a
month to discuss problems and solutions for the daily operation of the
hackerspace. The board consists of the original ten members, all of whom
contribute what they can monetarily towards making sure the space stays
open. This non-uniform dues system is carried over to new members in an
effort to not exclude anyone who wants to participate, but who may not
have a lot of money. As a result members' skill sets include meteorology,
robotics, micro-controllers, physics, chemistry, origami, programming,
woodworking, 3-D fabrication, and much more. With advertising through
varied mediums, we hold periodic open houses to alert the local commu-
nities that we exist and to bring in new members. The whole Jf you build
it, they will come" adage seems to be working pretty well for us.
All of the tools and resources are donated or on extended loan. One of
the more notable projects is the USB-Authenticated Door Lock— a way to
not have to keep up with so many metal keys for members and allow 24/7
access to the space. A video was made detailing the project and sent it to
Hack-A-Day The YouTube video had over 40,000 hits its first week, and
also brought a few new faces into the shop. Other projects have included
a modular/portable photobooth, multitouch coffee table, an aluminum
forge, and just general playing with various electronic bits and parts. The
aluminum forge v2.0 was probably the most„disastrous" occasion, in
which a custom burner applied to a small (but full) propane bottle failed
and leaked burning propane from the fittings— all during an open house.
Disaster was averted, however, with a garden hose, plus a lesson was
learned by all: Always keep your fire extinguisher charged.
l Location '.
Philadelphia, Pfl f US •
1 Tag 1 i ne I
"Tagline? Tag what? Uhh . :
Your i t ! " •
| Contact I
The Hacktory started early winter 2007, when a few folks from
MakePhilly met to talk about what they wanted in a DIY/lnventor/Maker
scene in Philadelphia. The named was picked in an afternoon, from a list of
5. No one at the meeting was too picky everyone just wanted to get things
rolling. The Hacktory is a homage to Andy Warhol's „The Factory", since
part of the goal is to tie into the art community. The original vision was a
space with toolshare, materials exchange, and some awesome classes.
The Hacktory is still sort of starting up. Obstacles so far have included
classics like no money no time, and few people willing to put in the effort
to get things stable. Big benefits have been an awesome host organization
called Nonprofit Technology Resources (NTR), and a few folks in a real
dedicated core group.
The Hacktory is currently HQ'd on the 3rd floor of NTR. It's a small
space, but it's packed to the gills with tables, equipment, and tools. There
are a couple of o-scopes, some multimeters, and some solder and de-
solder stations. Also the obligatory hand tools, like glue guns..
Once a month there is an Open Hack on a Saturday when anyone can
drop in and work. From 2 to 12 people usually show up, hang out, swap
stories, and build stuff. The Hacktory also has an organizers meeting once
a month to plan the months events. It's boring, and sometimes slow, but
makes sure stuff happen. Then there are randomly classes, about 1 every
3-4 weeks. If you are interested in starting a hackerspace, talk about it a
lot, and be willing to drop something if you are outvoted. A lot of times, it
has been better to make a very good decision quickly, rather than the best
Location: Nashville, TN, US
Trevor, aka Skydog, remembers the beginnings of the Hacker Consor-
tium, „We began when Seeblind and I met on a security incident that we
were assigned to. After spending a few days around each other, we found
that we had some similar ideas. At one point, Seeblind looked at me and
said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we had a big place to hang and work on stuff?'
I agreed, and said that I had been thinking about it for several years. It had
always been one of those 'If I won the lottery' type things, but something
that I had wanted to do for some time. We talked about what we would
do, what it would look like, etc. I went home that night and registered the
domain name. The next day, I announced to Seeblind that I had registered
the domain, and that we were gonna do it. The look on his face was
priceless. We began looking at locations, deciding on what we needed
and could afford. The costs were high, and the possibilities of us losing our
shirts were looming."
Three different iterations of the space went by before they found
their present one. The first was a 1000 sq/ft. office park space that small
businesses typically get into. As with all of the spaces they were interested
in, they did a floorplan and decided what would go where. Skydog recalls
the process, „We would dream big, but be brought back to earth by the
cost of things. The second location was 2,500 Sq/ft, but had hardly any
office space, and a small wall mount airconditioner We knew that the heat
of the summer would cook us out, and the chill of winter would freeze us.
Still, we designed our space, spending hours disussing every square inch.
Others became interested, and started meeting with us. Mudflap got on
board, and began dreaming with us too. The third interation was a 4,000
sq/ft. space that was in an Re/D park in Nashville. Everyone involved came
out and checked out the space, talking about what we could do with it.
Everyone walked from room to room, imagining the possibilities. Our
model would require that we share the space with a few companies that
wanted to have our mental works' group onsite. Seeblind and I got a copy
of the lease, and were on the verge of signing."
Seeing themselves on the bottom line of the lease gave the founders
the feeling of an awesome responsibility. With the possibility of being sued
if the venture went south, and no protection from becoming a corpora-
tion, they were nervous. The two would be on the take for $92,000. That
figure hovered over them as they got together to go over the numbers
again and again. Finally, they had to back away from the table and find a
better solution. Had the venture failed, Skydog figured that he would have
had to move out of his house and into the space for the next three years.
It was a depressing time for both of them, when they didn't want to talk
or think about the project. On the verge of taking a hiatus, Mudflap called
them and said he had something for us.
They got together and went to see the building. 2,500 sq/ft. of
concrete block bunker. Nobody had been in the space in three years. The
roof was degrading, no water, electricity, or heat. It was heaven to them.
They started sometime in Jan of 2008, coming in on Saturdays. Someninja
brought a large generator to compliment the little Honda that Mudflap
appropriated from his company. Halogen lights and propane heaters
allowed us to do some primary work on the space. Things came at a quick
pace. Water got restored. 400 Amps of solid power from two new breaker
panels. They taught themselves how to install concrete block. A coat of
paint brightened the place. Hours and hours of hard work, all from a vision
they all shared. When visitors walk in the door, they are amazed. From the
outside it looks like a crappy block building. Inside, there are worktables,
good lighting, power tools, shelves, and a server room. Exterior cameras
allow them to see the outside of the space at a glance, which is recorded
to a DVR in the server room. A webcam allows them to check and see
who is in the space. Over time, they added bits and pieces that have made
it a great hacker space. In reality it is the people that make it what it is, not
the computers, or tools. The people that showed up and shared in the
vision are what make the space what it is. Without the members, the space
would be a shell of a building, filled with toys. The Hacker Consortium
sports a bizarre mix of items. Shelves hold spare parts, equipment, and
odds and ends. Three 4x8 workbenches are the main meeting place so
far. A standard compliment of woodworking tools, from table saw to drill
press sit up front, not far from the vehicle work area. An 80 pound heavy
bag travels on pulleys to be stored out of the way when nobody's using it.
A makeshift kitchen in the back serves to feed a hungry group, with a kitty'
to replenish the funds. A server room with a 10Kva battery backup supplies
redundant power to three server racks, loaded with member machines
and those donated by generous companies. Disco lights hang from the
ceiling attached to a remote switch for instant Party Mode'. XM radio,
Cable TV and a 10' high gain screen with a projector provide entertain-
ment and the ability to do classes. The area this is in is often referred to as
the warehouse, while work still continues on the office' side. The balance
of the space is set aside for a lounge, a proper kitchen, a bathroom with
shower, and a twelve seat learning lab. Week by week, the brave hackers
work their way towards the front of the building, rebuilding the floor,
running wiring, and cleaning/painting. Sometime after the first of the year
they expect to be done with the entire building.
Meetings take place on Saturday to decide on work on the space
and projects. Monday nights are reserved for the Red Team, a pentesters
group that was formed in the space. Earlier in the year, Wrench, one of the
members, was teaching a bunch of the others to box. Attendance depends
on the project, and how early people are able to inform everyone about it.
Everyone has 24/7 access to the space, and they are encouraged to spend
as much time as they like there.
The most devastating event was the theft of some copper from
the building. While this may not sound like a large issue, the copper
stolen was what brought power from the pole to the building.
Someone came round in the dead of night and climbed on top
of the building. Using large insulated snips, they cut the six cables
that feed power from the weatherhead to the back of our breaker
panels inside. While the copper stolen would only yield about $200,
it would have cost the group much much more had they not had
a great relationship with their electrical guys, Vetter Electric. They
came out the same day and had the space back up and runnning
in a few days. A party was planned for that weekend, which had to
be postponed. „Of all of the events that have taken place, I feel that
this one was the worst. The feeling of being back to square one
with no power at all was hard to stomach. We took some additional
measures to secure the wiring, and with the addition of two video
cameras and a light on the back of the building, I feel we will not
have that problem ever again", remembers Skydog. Of anything
that has come out of our space, most members would say the
friendships that have formed from everyone getting together is the
best of all. The Hacker Consortium has a diverse group of people
with many different talents. To watch people interact and work on
things, collaborating and mentoring, is one of the greatest rewards
to lots of hard work. People that wouldn't normally be around each
other, riffing on a piece of code, or drawing out a project.
Skydog concludes, „lf I were to give anyone advice on starting a
space, it would have to be this. Dream. All of those thoughts about
what would be cool, or what would be the ultimate use for some-
thing need to be let out. Plan out your space. Close your eyes and
think about what you want it to look like and make it happen. There
will be stumbling blocks in your journey. Things will go awry, and
people will come and go. If you hold on to that vision, the people
and funds will appear. If you asked me two years ago if I thought
we would be where we are now, I would have told you there would
have been no way. The people sharing this vision are the fuel for
the fire. Find the right people with the desire and make it happen
Location: Washington, DC, US
Tagline! "Me collaborate across
d isc ip 1 ines . "
My kids and I are members of the Washington, DC area hacker coll-
ective, HacDC This may strike some as a little strange for a middle-aged
guy and his 8 and 11-year-old daughters, but in fact, it has been a great
opportunity to expose them to all the exciting things that are going on in
our rapidly-changing science and technology world.
My kids have had a great time seeing the talks given at HacDQ and
participating in hands-on demonstrations at a range of events. They've
seen everything from amazing handmade, high-power lasers to unbe-
lievable circuit-bent electronic musical instruments. More important than
the fun of playing with this stuff, my girls got to actually meet the people
who were building these things. This is a real change from how kids usually
interact with technology.
By spending time with the hacker community, they get to see first-
hand the kind of inspired craziness that leads to innovation. For those of
us who are in the science and technology business, we know that the folks
behind the most interesting innovations are often fascinating, hyperactive,
off-kilter, curious people- not something that most schools, parents, media
producers, etc., see as role models for kids. I see exactly the opposite- the
only way that our kids are going to
learn how to survive in a world that
increasingly calls on use to be dyna-
mic, creative and mentally agile is to
show them what that looks like, and
for them to see that it is something
that they want to be involved in.
For this reason, hackerspaces like
HacDC are a perfect means to bring
the next generation together with
the folks who are creating (and dis-
rupting) this one. My experience has been nothing but positive. The folks
in our local hacker community treat my girls exactly as they treat everyone
else. Their questions are answered without condescension, and they are
greeted with real warmth and friendliness by the community. By welco-
ming them into the group, the community has demonstrated to them
that there is real value in participating in some of the creative, skeptical and
intellectual behaviors that are the positive hallmarks of hackers worldwide.
I do not know what my kids are going to do when they get older, but
I am sure that they will have benefited from the exposure to the cool
projects technology and most importantly the people of HacDC, and for
that we are all grateful. To all you hackerspaces out there, bring on the kids!
They are the next generation of hackers waiting to happen!
Text by HacDC-member R. Mark Adams
l Location '.
Hew Vork, NY, US j
1 Tag 1 i ne I
"Me learn, share and I
Make things." *
| Contact I
There was the hacker and the hacker was lonely. He rented an unven-
tilated room from a college humor website. She soldered on a wooden
cutting board under the kitchen fan. He survived on the gleanings of
barcamps and podcamps. Then in August 2007 at Hackers on a Plane, two
hackers met. George Shammash and Bre Pettis spent 8 days saying „we
should get one of these hacker collective things going in NYC" They rea-
lized they lived in the same borough of New York City, and not only could
they get themselves a hackerspace but they were morally obliged to do so.
Four hours of brute forcing domain names later, NYCResistor was born.
Bre and George reached out to the hackers they knew in NYC. The
first meeting was just six people. Many didn't come back, but Nick Bilton,
he brought it. Together Bre, George, Nick and Peter, the lost founder, hat-
ched the Microcontroller Study Group (NYCR MSG). Often the MSG met
at LemurPlex, thanks to Eric Singer; sometimes it was just a crowd around
the back table in a cafe. For three or four hours on any given night the
expanding crew would demo and build projects like a free-soldered LED
cube, an LED oscilloscope or an on-the-spot 3D silicon mold. Around the
projects and diner coffee of the MSG the rest of the nine founders came
together: Diana Eng, Dave Clausen, Zach Hoeken Smith, Rafael Abrams,
Eric Skiff and the lost founder mark II: Pat Gallagher. Skiff says the MSG
was key to sustaining the hackerspace in progress: „Every week there was
something new and interesting to play with, while alongside that we were
working on the hard infrastucture stuff. There's a lot of slogging, so you
have to mix in the fun stuff that gives you the hint of what's to come."
The first public meeting of NYC Resistor was on September 21, 2007.
By January the hunt for a space was on, and at 9:33 pm on February 4,
2008 Resistor signed its lease. Each of the founders put down $1000 and
signed on to the NYC Resistor LLC. Some were more sanguine than others
about the money. Raf recalls J wanted this place and I happened to have
some money. Normally I don't have a thousand dollars to plunk down
on something like this. The timing was good." Diana says: „We weren't in
recession then, so it didn't seem like a lot of money." Dave was more hesi-
tant. He was careful to get some concrete explanations of what was going
to happen with the money. But once the vision was articulated, all the
founders were of one mind. Skiff sums it up, „This needs to exist. And we
are the people with the power to do it." Zach is yet more direct, „Why'd
I do it? Because I believe in the do-ocracy! You gotta put something on
the line. If you're not willing to put something on the line to follow your
dreams, then they don't deserve to come true."
2 //? /
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
The core principles of Resistor have remained steady from the start:
We learn, share and make things. Just about every Resistor teaches a class.
Everybody's got some weird spectacular skills just dying to get out. Half
the time in classes, half the students are other Resistors. Everything gets
documented as we go. It can be Bre or Skiff with the video camera, or
just a few quick snaps and a parts list plopped on the blog. Documenting
Resistor lets us both share and remember. It's amazing the blur a 3:00 am
fix can be by 5:00 the next day.
We are equal parts collective and hacker: everyone who joins is some-
one you would give your apartment keys to. None of it exists without the
hacking though. We make things. Barbots, firefly skirts, RepRaps, music
interfaces, spooky boxes, planetary gear cards, LED cylinders of beauty,
roller skate robots: every project idea is a good idea. They may not all pan
out, and sometimes you have to pull the fire extinguisher's pin, but there's
nothing that's not worth trying at Resistor. A lot of that is possible because
of the fundamental trust we share, but some of it's just because we're
adventuresome morons with the smarts to wear safety googles.
The last word on Resistor has to be given to our founding treasurer,
Zach Hoeken Smith, who learned how to form a limited liability corporati-
on so that we could have a hacker collective, „Resistor shouldn't be unique.
This shouldn't be read as like 'Wow, look at what those guys did!' It should
be like 'I'm going to do that too!' Using your brain beats the hell out of not
using your brain."
Location! San Francisco, Cfl, US
Tagline! "Be excellent "to each
Neb I https:yynoisebridge.net
It took a long time for Noisebridge to go through the community
bootstrapping phase. Slowly and steadily the right people collected
together, creating a group
that would work and play
San Francisco is a busy city and it was important to be something
beyond a gym. We desired not only a space, but a community to fill the
The search for a space took months. The group wasn't a cohesive
whole yet, still unable to coalesce with a collective vision. Focused on legal
infrastructure and other bureaucratic necessities, a lot of the meetings
were boring and uninteresting, and as a result, some people started to
actually do things. People talked about and improved their art projects
during meetings. This was a real turning point because it signaled that the
group was together collaborating on „projects" rather than just discussing
„ideas". This shift started attracting many more people. It became apparent
that when a space was found our community would rapidly expand.
Over our many months of community-forming, mutual respect and
admiration for each other grew. This created a nice power dynamic where
everyone could and often did feel like it was „their" space. But still there
was no actual permanent home. However, now the group had a vision and
knew what to look for. The space desires were collected onto a wiki and
when the current space was found, the group just knew it was right. It was
time to move, even with some worries over financial risk, wondering how
the deposit and the ongoing expensive San Francisco rent would be paid.
As it happened, the group managed to raise about USD $12,000 in one
twenty four hour period and in the black from the very first month. En-
ough people believed that the flavor of chaos was realistic and workable,
despite, and because of, our unique blend of crazy ideas.
Since setting up the hacker space, new visitors continue to bring their
own crazy ideas, finding a new friend or ten at the space to help realize
their visions. At first new visitors question their own ability in the space,
asking permission to do everything. When they really settle in, however,
they all really become an embodiment of our catch phrase: „Be Excellent
To Each Other" Questions about everything are asked not because of
authority but because of respect for each person in the group. It makes
amazing things possible and this facilitates great things into happening.
ijWk ^ ^v
• • •
• • • •
Location! Los Angeles, CA f US
Me b : twitter.co h/s ugarshack
Sugar Shack started as an intentional community for artists in 2001.
Close to a dozen residents live and work in the space and a handful of
community artists come in daily or weekly to work it out. The hackery
started with music and visual arts and moved into solar energy and storage
solutions, tesla coils and various vehicular modifications for energy hackery.
The wizards behind Toyshoppe Productions and Growing Energy Labs
currently call Sugar home along with VJs, documentary filmmakers, thera-
pists and writers who help us refine the work.
The community has hit a number of hurdles with the City of Los An-
geles regarding zoning and space use and have finally received the green
light from city inspectors to continue work without interruption. This
process took many years as the old home for new uses.
Sugar Shack is a very large old Victorian home in a great mixed use area
in Central LA. Outside guests notice the colorful home with public murals.
Sugar Shack has been written up in the LA Times for the cultural struggles
it has sparked within our community. The two story warehouse includes
a great machine shop and workshop, welding and basic electronics tools,
full fine arts facilities and space for video and computer „renovations".
Sugar Shack is a private home yet hosts up to 50 guests a week in design
meetings and small events.
Members live and breathe in the space so meetings can happen at
3AM and randomly over breakfast. The community meets together
weekly and makes all living decisions by consensus.
There have been shitstorms (broken pipes exploding on people),
various water issues and lots of graffiti. Sugar Shack is a very lively home
with lots of people, energy and ghosts of its own, there's rarely a dull
moment. The space has been the location for many music videos, indie
films and the reality show Monster House was cancelled halfway through
renovating the community room theatre into a 60's den of peace-loving
Sugar Shack exhibits art around the world. A recent project is the
Lightning Temple, a 45' tall interactive art installation and touring stage
which incorporates electricity, sacred geometry, and ritual theatre with
audio-modulated Tesla coils in the place of traditional speakers.
If you're starting a hacker space, communicate clearly with each other
and talk things through. Have a regular meeting time that allows everyone
to voice issues together and make sure that you have thoroughly consi-
dered the intellectual property ramifications of working in community
before you go in.
Cow-town Conputer Congress
Kansas City, M0 f US
juristCco wt o wn c o np uter
congress . org
c o wt o wn c o mp utercongress
The Story of CCCKC
CCCKC is a conglomeration of different user groups. From web devel-
opers and robot builders to coders and security professionals, almost every
aspect of technology is represented within the CCCKC ranks. The space
is used, not only for regular member meetings and project build-outs, but
user group meetings as well. All organizations who are affiliated have a
seat on the board of directors and have a voice in how resources can be
Kansas City has always been perceived by those outside the area as a
hick town which is out of touch with the rest of the world. While there are
certainly cattle drives which go through downtown and tornados during
the summer, KC is also home to some of the greatest technological minds
in the world. The name CCCKC pokes fun at the misconceptions of the
city while reflecting the democratic structure of the organization and
paying homage to the hacker groups of the Old World.
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
Meetings are held weekly at our temporary home while we finalize
lease negotiations. We cover the business side of things early in the
meeting with hearty discussion of projects and research until late in the
Finding a space which meets the demands of such a diverse group
of hackers has been a challenge, and not without problems. Our initial
location fell through after the landlords lost their funding, but this led
to the discovery of a much better opportunity. Our group has a strong
commitment to community service and many of our projects reflect that.
Members worked together and built a robot which was a major part of
a community haunted house for Halloween. The success of CCCKC de-
monstrates that hacker spaces can florish any where...not just major cities.
Editor's Note: Since the writing of this article, CCCKC has moved into a
hackerspace deep under the earth in a mine!
Is /world/everywhere\ else.
a j a
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
Location: Toronto, Canada
Contact! in f oGhack lab . to
Corinne had gotten a new laptop, and it had Vista on it. She had heard
that there was a possible alternative in an OS called Linux, and wanted to
give it a try. That was all that was needed to form the group. After a few
evenings hanging out with Corinne and some other Open Source nerds,
the event formalized and was named „Unpatched Tuesdays/' a weekly
hacknight hosted at Paul and Leigh's tiny apartment. This event expanded
over the course of several months to include upwards of a dozen people.
The theory that geeks expand in numbers to fill all available seating, parti-
cularly when pizza is involved was proven beyond a doubt.
Unpatched Tuesdays was getting to be too much for the small apart-
ment and one fateful Tuesday in June of 2008, Seth and Leigh decided to
start trolling Craigslist to get a sense of what it would cost to rent a suitable
commercial property in order to create a hacker space. What they did
not expect was to immediately stumble on a weeks-old listing pointing
to an ideal space which was still available. Three days later, after two tours
in the space and some long conversations, they signed a one-year lease
without even having a name picked out. Pearl, the landlord, was excited
that the group moving in would be „Serious Computer People" and not
flaky musicians who wanted to use the space as a live /work studio, like her
The name came out organically from lots of discussions which have
been somewhat forgotten. It's short and sweet. It confuses people who'd
never think of Toronto when they see .to; Torontonians pronounce it„tee
ohh", as in Toronto, Ontario. Other Canadians just pronounce it, /that big
city that smells bad and is full of jerks*"
The group got started really quickly and smoothly thanks to the
„Hacker Space Design Patterns" and the good luck of finding a space. The
adventure started on a Tuesday in June and by the end of the week on
Friday the group had signed a lease on the space.
* note: Toronto does not actually smell bad.
Those who show up at the space for the first time usually first notice
that it can be a little noisy. The space is above a bar, and nearly every
evening there's music playing. It's usually pretty inoffensive though. The
space itself is bright and sunny in the day, and overlooks one of the coolest
neighborhoods in Toronto, Kensington Market. The main space has some
desks and enormous power strips. An area off to the side has couches and
there's a counter that runs down the middle of the room for those who
prefer to work sitting at bar height or standing. In one corner there's a
server closet with a full rack containing a dozen servers units. There is still
have plenty of room to grow! Opposite that corner there is a great library
of books on everything from cryptography to psychology. There is also
have a full kitchen with a well-stocked (with pop) fridge, and a bathroom
with a washer/dryer
The open lab nights are Tuesday and continue to use the „Unpatched
Tuesdays" name from those early evenings at Paul and Leigh's house. Mee-
ting on Thursdays were tried but people didn't come out, so now during
Tuesday meetings take a quick break from the socializing to conduct the
week's business. Since this is an open night, there are often non-members
present. This lets outsiders see how Hacklab.to works as a group and lets
potential members know what they are getting into.
Hacklab.to haven't been around for too long, but a few disasters have
been averted. A friend of Leigh's who happens to be an actuary came by
and pointed out a few potential safety issues, which were fixed including
dangling ropes and slippery carpets. Those were fixed, and now the
biggest challenge is dealing with the scourge of the northern hackerspace:
winter boots and the mess they bring.
Hacklab.to is a great group of people and is looking forward to making
awesome things, code, and projects together. They have also put a lot of
work into getting the legal infrastructure set up the „right way" so that they
can help other Canadian hackerspaces with that part of the bootstrapping
process. The group decided to do make their hackerspace happen and
they organized, and acted. Ok, maybe they acted and then organized, but
it is working out!
Location: Uancouver, Canada
Tagline! "Spilling Beer in Gear"
Neb: Vancouver. backspace. ca
VHS had a lot of false starts. The idea was spawned after hearing Bre's
interview with Tim Pritlove from 24C3. The original vision was to have a
space where hackers could hack on their own projects and have a space
where people could hack without deadlines. VHS is committed having fun
and learning things without having predatory sales and marketing people
coming in and trying to base their next business off of it.
The main obstacle that confronted VHS when starting was the
amount of money needed. VHS first started as three people who were
renting out a common office in Downtown Vancouver called the vault.
However, it wasn't an ideal space due to the fact that it was an actual vault,
and we were working on hardware. Because they had already kicked in
good money for that failed space, they didn't have the cash on hand to
really start a new hackerspace project, but after The Last HOPE, a hacker
conference in NYC, we knew we had to do it. The original call for people
turned up about 20 people, and about 15 regulars stayed on and VHS
currently has them as paid members who regularly visit the space.
The VHS hackerspace is a common area of a larger building called
Emma's Hackery, named after the famous American Anarchist Emma
Goldman. They share the space with Free Geek Vancouver (http://
www.freegeekvancouver.org), which is an ethical computer recycler in
Vancouver, Submedia.tv (http://submedia.tv), which is an independent
media video production group, and other like-minded people. The space
has been pretty awesome for the hackergroup to start up in since none of
the group had the money to kick down at the very beginning on startup
rent, which at the time was very expensive in Vancouver due to the winter
Olympics. East Vancouver is one of the best places to have a hackerspace
due to the fact that it is central, and the fact that East Van is awesome!
VHS is a hackerspace, therefore they meet every Tuesday!
Together they decide on what happens at VHS and on where the
hackerspace should go They mess with arduino stuff and personal
projects, but are looking to get a new space so they can build larger,
group projects. They haven't had any accidents in our hackerspace.
The worst thing that happened is that at a party homebrew beer was
spilled on some protoboards, hence the tagline.
When starting a hackerspace, they feel it's essential to have
community and build community. What makes VHS awesome is the
support that VHS gets from the community namely from David Repa
(our landlord), Free Geek Vancouver, Spartacus Books, and others.
VHS hopes to keep pulling in new people from the community into
VHS and to keep it going as an awesome community space for peo-
ple to grow. Also, hackerspaces have a lot in common with infoshops
and other community spaces, and a lot of the same patterns work for
both. When beginning a hackerspace, search these places out and
form relationships with these groups!
to X^ >
-ton! WoW- c\
•Kim ATM y
y P lanned \/c 1
Status! Founded, yet spacele:
Contact: i nf oChac kerspac e . 1 u
Me b : www . hackerspace. lu
sunned a lot more time than expected was dealing with the multilingual
environment in Luxembourg: every document had to be written in at least
three languages, English, French and German. Amusingly producing some
of the promotional material in Luxembourgish was almost the hardest
task, as the written language is seldom taught in school. Fortunately we
had some help with translations.
SYN2cat started out as an idea Steve and David had over a cup of
coffee at ION HQ Inspired by a visit to the Metalab and prior visits to the
C-Base, David felt that he didn't want to miss such a thing in Luxem-
bourg if he were to live there after his studies. (And even if not). The first
steps undertaken were to set up a Wiki and write an email to various
acquaintances explaining in a few words what a hackerspace is and asking
for some feedback about the level of interest. We wanted to get some
idea whether there even was a critical mass out there to support such
an undertaking. In a country as small as Luxembourg and an equally small
capital, this is an important issue. [World Fact Book: ^Population*: 480,222
(July 2007 Est.)]
make : s create : : innovate
socialise: : experiment
*ww % hackerspace. lu
We received a number
of encouraging replies and so
we decided to carry on. Most
importantly, we stumbled upon
the C3L, members of which
replied to our e-mails promptly.
We even met someone on the
local funfair by wearing a shirt
Over the next days we
became more active. We created
a first press-release that even
got published by some online
and printed press ;) We created
posters, flyers and a folder which
was sent to politicians, represen-
tatives of research centres, artists
and so on. An issue which con-
Our hackerspace is under construction right now. We do however
have a «preliminary» location in which the alpha (or beta) version is deplo-
yed to once a week. We meet together with the Chaos Computer Club
Letzebuerg (C3L) in a club room of a local pub in Luxembourg city. Draft
beer is served in our hackerspace. As stated above the hackerspace is a
club room in a pub in Luxembourg city. Visitors can benefit from the pub's
kitchen. We a two Mbit Internet connection (cable and wireless) and we
have space for 20 people. We discuss projects, check out gadgets, discuss
club and hackerspace topics and do carry out presentations.
After publishing our press-release on their website, local IT magazine
ITNews asked to interview Steve and David, which we thought was
awesome! We even had a photo-shoot where we had to pass two security
checks in the European Court of Justice, just to troll around the building
freely afterward. Around this time we had firmly associated ourselves with
C3L and were attending their meetings on Mondays. Quite a few of the
people we had e-mailed in the beginning started to drop in too, so that
the C3L quickly expanded in those 2 months and the local pub we meet in
has become awfully small. Not to be discouraged by the lack of an actual
space, we initiated some projects, mostly security and surveillance related
Meanwhile, Steve and David continued to lobby politicians, govern-
ment officials, artists and directors of cultural institutions. We had difficu-
lties in getting our ideas across to Luxembourg-City's Management and
we had a hard time figuring out if we should contact the city government
directly or not.
Even though progress since the beginning in early August 2008 has
been rapid, there's a number of challenges remaining. One of the founders
is in Austria trying to pursue his studies. Further, recent days have seen
S p lanned \/c losed /s yn2cat
a lively debate on whether to make an independent NPO out of the
hackerspace initiative or to integrate it into the C3L organizational struc-
ture. We're also trying to build up a local chapter of graffiti research lab
and we're still looking for companies and individuals to support our idea.
(Which isn't too easy in times of financial crisis.)
Another challenge is the organization of all of the administrative stuff.
We're juggling several software suites at once, none of which fits our requi-
rements exactly. We run a CRM, a separate mail archive and the Wiki with
a clunky issue-tracking extension. Unfortunately pen & paper still provide
the clearest structuring and layout.
Most importantly of course we're actively looking for a place. We will
try applying for one with the city council, which we have been told might
take 2 further years of lobbying. We're therefore also considering renting
one privately. In order to allow people to get to know us we are trying to
get some public appearances. For instance, we will be organizing a lasertag
session on the pristine marble front of the National Museum of History
and Art in early February during a vernissage.
Our advice if you want to get started with a hackerspace is to get the
people together, put all problems/challenges on the table and work out
rftm^fHEa ma cone„.i
PuMping Station! One
Status! Founded, yet spaceless
Location: Chicago, IL, US
Tagline: "Build, Break, Create,
Invent ! "
Contact! in f oGpunp ingstat ionone
Web : punpingstationone.org
Huddled in a cafe just off the
Division Blue Line stop, the founding
members of Chicago's Pumping Station:
One gathered on Tuesdays to create
their concept of a hackerspace. The idea
had been floating around for months
between friends, but it wasn't until
the winter of 2008 that it started to
become a reality. Fortunately Chicago
is a prime city for such a workspace, al-
ready teeming with nerds, geeks, artists,
hackers, and other creatives looking for
The work went quickly. Within a
few months, PS:One became an Illinois
Not-For-Profit, wrote up some by-laws,
elected a board, got insurance, and
found a space in the middle of Avon-
dale, which was immediately cleaned,
sealed, and filled with various donated
supplies, including a loft built in ajust
This makes it sound easy, but there
were set-backs. Arguments were had,
mailing lists were flamed, baked goods
were banned, kitchens were dirty, and
hearts were broken. The first space that looked promising turned out to
be zoned improperly for any membership organization, forcing PS:One
to take up residence in a smaller space. There remains a rift between the
die-hard programmers and those who prefer a more diverse membership
which can only be solved by a fight to the death (with ping-pong balls).
There is still no consensus on whether or not Eric's shoes are ridiculous.
Thankfully, obstacles were overcome. PS:One is now (mostly) settled
in, and incredible projects are built on a fairly regular basis, then shown off
during weekly meetings. Members have created ping-pong ball throwies,
flaming ping-pong ball launchers, a foundry, a DJ stand, minty amps, all sor-
ts of garments, a delta robot, and the Warzone, amongst countless other
things. Classes have been held on subjects ranging from LDAP and Python
to home-brew beer, Arabic, and knife throwing. Events such as Geek Prom
and PPPWRS (the customized Power Wheels Racing Series) have been
organized. PS:One has been mentioned in Chicago-based publications,
participated in the Something New roving art gallery, and shown up in
The space itself is currently a riot of supplies, works-in-progress, tables,
chairs, and discarded pieces of electronics. One corner is taken up by
PS:One's Homewreckery which contains its sewing, screen-printing, arts,
crafts, and drafting supplies. Near the door is the DJ booth, comprised
of turn-tables, speakers, lights, a vast assortment of wires and plugs, and
more often than not one of several resident DJs. Lodged against one wall
is the Coder's Lounge, enclosed within walls made from donated cubicle
parts and a roof made from a surplus drogue parachute, which houses the
space's servers. In back the hulking mass of the loft rises above everything,
giving members a place to relax, play guitar, nap after all-night Hackathons,
and read books from the library. Under the loft is the Machine Shop, full
of tools for construction work, and the Shock Shop, where people move
electrons. In the center of the room is a row of work tables and a circle of
chairs, continuously filled by people deeply involved with their laptops.
While many goals have been reached, many more are still in progress.
PS:One is currently tasked with achieving 501(c)(3) status, building its cur-
rent membership, working to bring in even more innovative projects and
intriguing classes, and keeping together its constantly in-flux environment.
Status! Founded, yet spaceless
Location: Durban, South Africa
Tagline: "Holding the universe
together, one nut at a
tine . "
Me b : www . ductape.co.za
In the beginning there was the void, and into the void stepped the
hacker, for a void is empty and requires stuff to be built. The void was dark
and the hacker stumbled and stubbed his toe, so he shouted y/ Let there
be light" and the first LED flickered into existence. Actually he shouted
something else first, but this is PG rated. The hacker saw that it was good
but was annoyed that the LED lay on the floor and would not stick to
anything. The hacker shouted, „Let there be Ductape" and it was so. The
hacker saw that it was good for it had a light side, a dark side and could
hold the universe together. With the tape, the hacker stuck a clusters of
LEDs to the walls and ceiling, making the stars and constellations that
would light his work area as he hacked into the night. The hacker stepped
back and saw that this was good, for he had created the first hackerspace,
and so he rested. Thus ended Day 0.
Although our first meeting was on 16 September 2008, the seeds were
planted much earlier. I guess we always wanted to do something like a
hackerspace, we just didn't know about hackerspaces at the time.
Around mid 2003 Duncan, Rodney, Edd, and others started The
OpenProject, which in hindsight was meant to be a virtual hackerspace of
sorts, and a home for open hardware projects. Unfortunately the project
stalled, however the seeds were growing...
Rodney first heard about hackerspaces while listening to the HOPE
conference recordings. He was also lucky enough to get hold of the talk
„Building Hacker Spaces Everywhere: Your Excuses are Invalid". This gave
him the push he needed. He posted to his blog and mentioned starting a
hackerspace to some friends who chatted on-line and things started hap-
pening quickly. At some point Rodney created a Facebook group and the
next thing I knew we had about 11 people interested. Duncan submitted
the name Ductape with possible meanings. The group liked the
How &o ^<^
name so Edd and Ralfe kindly set up a website and mailing list. For
our first meeting I was expecting maybe 6 or 7 people, but was surprised
when 11 guys arrived. I think the coffee shop staff were scared: 11 caffeine
deprived geeks screaming for coffee is horror film material. And thus,
the first South African hackerspace was born. We are still in "plotting and
scheming" stage, so don't have a place of our own yet, but are expecting
to start the "building and fire extinguisher" stage early in 2009.
We meet every Tuesday, even when only a few people can make it,
but I feel that it is important to keep momentum going. Meeting have
mostly been held at restaurants, however lately we have semi-stabilized
on meeting at the offices of some of our members. We are looking for
a permanent space, but it's still early days for us. Things that concern us
while looking for a space are security, location and cost. Unfortunately
crime in South Africa is a real issue so we need a space with secure parking
either in a reasonable neighborhood or that we can lock up securely. We
also can't be in a dense residential area since I doubt the neighbors would
enjoy hearing power tools at 2am. Our members have wide ranging skills
and project ideas so we ultimately need a large enough space where we
could build anything.
Here is the post I made to my blog on Aug 1st, 2008
Ever since I first heard of hacker spaces, I've been enthralled by the idea of a place where like minded people can come together to learn, teach and build
things. We are or course talking about the true definition of hacking. The meaning that goes back to before computers were even thought about. Hackers
are those who like to learn how things work. They take things apart, and put them back together and make them do new things that they were never
meant to do. Hackers thirst for knowledge and crave challenges that stretch their minds.
I first heard about hacker spaces while listening to recorded talks from one of the HOPE conferences(Hackers On Planet Earth). These are basically places
where hackers can get together to share information and work on projects. Lets face it, not everyone has the space or tools at home to work on some
kinds of projects and no one is an expert in every field. This is where the hacker space really helps its members. It can be a shared workspace with tools
that all of its member can use to work on their projects. With enough members, there will most likely be someone knowledgeable around that you can
ask for help or who can teach you to use a particular tool.
Over the past few years a number of hacker spaces have popped up all over the world. At the Last Hope conference, a website dedicated to hacker
spaces was advertised, http://www.hackerspaces.org/ This site aims to help people find hacker spaces in their area, to help people to start spaces where
there are none and to enable hacker spaces to communicate amongst themselves to share ideas as to what works and what doesn't as far as running the
space is concerned. I took a look at the site and wasn't exactly surprised to find that there were no spaces listed in Africa. If I wasn't motivated to start a
space before, I am now.
Personally, my interests are generally in the region of computers, electronics and radio, though my interests cover a wide range of technologies and engi-
neering. I would like to have a hacker space in the Durban area where one can come to work with others on cool electronic and computer based projects
but also to be able to build a desk or fabricate a computer case from scratch or build a boat if they so wish. Obviously what is possible depends on space
and tools available, and ones imagination. Many hands make light work too so involving others helps you get your project done quicker andyou may get
valuable input and ideas that you would never have thought of before. Of course when others have projects you can lend a had, ideas etc and everyone
benefits from the pool of knowledge.
Ok, so here is where I ask for input from you. Would you like to participate in a Hacker Space in the Durban area? What sort of group projects would you
like to see achieved? What sort of facilities would you like to see available for members to use? Would you or someone you know be interested in do-
nating tools, materials or cash toward setting up such a space? How much would you be wiling to spend on a monthly basis toward keeping such a space
going? Keep in mind guys, rent has to be paid by someone and in this case its the members. Any other ideas are most welcome.
I'll leave you now with a few links to info on hacker spaces so you can get an idea of what its about.
Location: fins ter dan, Netherlands
The idea of ASCII - Amsterdam Subversive Code for Information
Interchange - was conceived in late 1998 as there was the need for a non-
profit intemetworkspace' running on free and open source software, and
spreading the word of it's necessity to enable, educate and prepare people
for the upcoming internet age, on-line privacy as well as need for people
to meet and exchange ideas and information face to face.
an intemetworkspace' is a free and open place with free internet
access, aggregating point for all people interested in hacking together, or
simply hanging around or on the net while learning Free and OSS, creating
and mixing chaos for all people interested in free flow of information
across any new or old medium.
Early 1999, in its first incarnation cloaked as a cafe, ASCII emerged in
a squatted house with big shopping windows in a ground floor on the
Herengracht, in the historic center of Amsterdam. By installing Linux on
few older machines and opening our door to everybody who needed
free internet access, email address, general tech help, and people who just
wanted to work together with other people, engage in a collective, not sit
alone at home, drink fair trade coffee, cheap bio-beer and so forth.
Our main goal was to spread the word of the Free Software and Open
Source (F/OSS) movement, provide free and open access to the internet,
and give our support to EVERYBODY who walked in offering education
in everything from setting up an email address to free education in Linux
and F/OSS. At that time, the internet was gaining momentum for most of
the common people who had interest in it, but were unable or afraid to
participate and join. Microsoft with its Windows OS were gaining momen-
tum too, so we tried to show that there's more than just MS Windows.
We tried to convince people interested in the free flow of information
that using software made by the biggest multi-national corporation in the
world could not be a good idea. At that time, Hotmail was popular and we
tried to recommend and help set up other more private and secure mail
addresses for our visitors. That was only the beginning.
In those days many people were still only just starting to grasp the
importance of the internet as a medium, a meeting place and an informati-
on source. We didn't claim the internet was more important than other
media, or that in order to have a successful project/campaign/activity it is
necessary to rely on net mechanisms. Radio, for instance, is unsurpassed
when it comes to spreading a message to even the remotest areas of the
planet. However, none of the conventional" media influenced our percep-
tion of reality like the internet did then and does even more today. That
is, the boundaries of participation and observation/non-participation are
clearly defined when it comes to reading the paper, watching TV etc. The
internet, on the other hand, has a far-reaching interactivity. It is a soapbox,
library, publishing tool and meeting place at the same time. Where else
could one find detailed and extensive information on, for instance, genetic
modification, join a newsgroup, put a website up, find like-minded people
to organize a global campaign, or spread news about local actions within
minutes of them taking place?
We felt that the Internet should be accessible to anyone and that cen-
sorship sucks. Infringement on free speech, surfers' privacy and the over-
commercialization of the net were major problems already. At this rate the
net was in danger of becoming one huge billboard where multinational
companies could provide the world with good, clean family fun. We stood
against this. We also hoped the positive subversive elements of the world
would continue to infiltrate the net and create ways to keep information
free. That was our vision at the end of the 20th Century.
After one year of our engagement in Amsterdam, we felt that our
local involvement and teachings, could be spread to other like-minded
people and also spread and applied internationally, so we organized a
couple of international meetings on the subject of internetworkspaces'
and spread the idea within one year to more than 10 European countries
and around 20 or more cities. Being aware that the situation in Amster-
dam is not the same as in other cities, we tried to help other places that
were inspired by our idea to adapt to the specific local environment and
/planned\/c losed/ASCI I
circumstances. We also moved our ASCII internetworkspace' around
Amsterdam, changing locations and adapting our space to our demands
and being a squatted place by choice, it was forced to move around
sometimes. We participated on various international events providing
our media-tech expertise and knowledge to help activist media centers
on many occasions Europe-wide. Whether it was a big-time international
hack meeting or big-scale anti-globalisation rally or a local environmentalist
In the meantime we took our local activities one step further. We
conceived (amongst the other numerous supported activities like ge-
nderchangers.org, radar.squat.net etc.) an independent city-wide wireless
network that should offer free unmonitored connectivity without the
need of commercial companies. The resulting Amsterdam Network Coll-
ective spanned a large part of the city and connected several independent
venues and many households in the city. Also this concept in cooperation
with people from Leiden and London wireless communities spread all
over the continent and has inspired networks like Funkfeuer in Vienna and
Freifunk in Berlin.
Then at some point in time, after almost 8 years of existence as an
internetworkspace/ we decided that we could close down. Internet was
available all over, Linux and F/OSS were not obscure hacker's tools anymo-
re and we had successfully propagated our ideas. They have since evolved
and spread internationally.
The conclusion was, in our case, that to do cool stuff one doesn't really
need permanent space. The result of which would be creation of hierar-
chies within the collective and a danger of becoming an institution.
Our future has to be shaped and we put on our thinking hats to
conceive a method of a new state or existence in time. At the moment
we are trying to find out how our ideas and purpose can exist without an
actual space. We, as a collective, are spread all over the world. We meet
sometimes in person and discuss and create projects, but how to put it all
together in theory and practice, that is what we see as a new challenge to
be further explored.
Location: fins ter dan, Netherlands
PUSCII - the Progressive Utrecht Subversive Centre for Information
Interchange - is a small group meeting and centered around Utrecht, which
is located in the center of The Netherlands. PUSCII started as a group
running a public Internet workspace in 1998 from a spare space in their
squat in the center of Utrecht. From its founding, the main goal was for
helping activists, fellow squatters, and just random people to use all of the
then new technologies of the internet, and do so freely - that is, both at no
cost, and without censorship.
This served as a completely open social and public space, providing
free internet access to anybody who wanted to use it, up until 2005. At
this point, we had to leave the squat we had been using, and move to a
new location - a new squat, directly next to the Utrecht train station. From
there we continued our social function of public internet and we provided
space for several hacker workshops (wireless antennae building, etc.) which
we shared with equally minded people from a different social project, the
„Weggeefwinker (Literally: Giveaway shop).
In 2007 disaster struck, and we got evicted again. Several attempts
have been made to lay claim on a new building, but none lasted longer
then two weeks. Luckily, this did not impede us as a group and the virtual
projects as well as ad-hoc in-real-life sessions are still happening.
As our place was mostly a public workplace. The setup was centered
around our Web Terminals which were immediately next to the entrance
door. The machines themselves were mostly diskless Debian machines,
combined with a few standalone machines and are free to use by anyone,
By the backdoor to the rest of the building, we had a large bar, which ser-
ved for a small donation coffee and had things like free Debian/Ubuntu/
FreeBSD CD's. In the back we had a table for people wanting to make
something with some basic soldering equipment as well as a big pile of
(sometimes very obscure and old) hardware, part of the recycling project
and free for the taking.
Over our history we have done a lot of smaller projects, but several
which have been running across the years. When we started out in 1998,
the amount of people which visited us often did not have a computer, or
even easy access to them, and we found back then, that we could make
even very old 386 machines quite useful with a bit of creative configurati-
on and such, so we started a Hardware Recycling plan. We asked people to
donate old hardware, and we rebuilt the machines and reconfigured them
to do something useful or creative!
This started all with old 386's and through the years things progressed
until we could easily get Pentium3 class machines and have a nice fully free
software Debian install on them which for our target groups was enough
to do essentially everything including simple audio and publishing.
It is of interest to note, that our whole place, ran on all free and
donated hardware Everything from our Internet work terminals to our in
house server to our soldering equipment was all given free and donated!
This greatly helped us in running the place, as the only costs we had, where
electricity and internet.
Another sideproject initiated from the physical space of PUSCII was an
open-content radio system. With several of the people involved already
enthusiastic about making radio and doing Ether and Internet Radio
broadcasts at events, and friendships with various pirate radios across the
country that didn't manage to fill a 24/7 program, we wanted some sort
of indymedia in the realm of audio. The result is still running on http://
open-radio.nl and we are now venturing into providing video broadcasts
We initially started webhosting small pages and email boxes for political
groups on our puscii.nl domain using a very crusty old Pentiuml with faulty
cache memory. Over time this has spawned off, the old Pentiuml machine
(may it rest in pieces) burned down and made room for a modern server
in an actual datacenter The aim is still to provide free mail and webhosting
services to friends and organizations we support. In an age of increasing
S p lanned \/c losed
surveillance it aims to provide a safe shelter with fully encrypted
harddisks, no access logs and an increasing amount of tunneling
and anonymisation hacks.
L6ph"t Heavy Industries
Location: Boston, MA f US
Tagline! "Making a dent in "the
un i uerse"
The LOpht (spelled ell-zero-ph-t) was one of the original, publicly
known hacker spaces started in 1992 and lasting through 2000. It started in
an artist loft in the South End of Boston and was pretty much intended to
be a storage space for a few Boston-area hackers to store all of their com-
puter equipment. It quickly turned into a clubhouse for a group of local ha-
ckers who had all met on BBSes, a place for us to hang out, hack on various
equipment, have parties, and to let out-of-town hackers crash there. It was
a place of refuge for some of us and kept me personally off the streets
and out of trouble (I was the youngest member by about 6 years, so all of
these guys were really my mentors and I looked up to all of them).
amount during the LOpht's existence. Over the years, members came
and went, but we usually hovered around seven members. The space was
conceived by Brian Oblivion and Count Zero and also originally included
White Knight and Golgo 13. Later on at different times came Kingpin (me),
Space Rogue, John Tan, Weld Pond, Stefan Von Neumann, Mudge, Dildog,
Around 1996 or 1997, we relocated to an office space in a light-indus-
trial zoned area just outside of Boston with a goal of keeping the same
clubhouse/think-tank mentality, but wanting to turn our passion (hacking
and computer security) into a self-sufficient venture. This was in the early
days of the formal „computer security" industry that we know today and
we focused our efforts on finding security flaws in various hardware and
software products, most notably Microsoft Windows, and publicly relea-
sing our research. Among the various contributions the LOpht made to
the hacker community throughout the years, we were probably most (in)
famous for their May 19, 1998 testimony before the United States Senate
stating that they could shut down the entire Internet in 30 minutes.
The LOpht was not a space with „open // membership. It ultimately
consisted of a tight-knit group of like-minded individuals who had trusted
and appreciated the others' contributions. This may vary from some of
the current spaces in which memberships and contributions are more
loose, but the model worked well for us and we accomplished a significant
1 * t^i^XiBBBr***
Ft — * :■ pSn^HHv
* ' sfl
J B ?WS^^* —
Being involved with the LOpht during my formative years helped to
change and shape my life like nothing else.
The obstacles we encountered were mostly personal - finding people
that could get along and work well together. There were members who
were kicked out of the LOpht for personal reasons or for not contributing
and meeting project goals, we had trial periods for some new members
that didn't work out, but all of the decisions were very tough and always
voted on by the group.
We each had our own space within the office, but then also had shared
areas, like the hardware lab, living room, and meeting room. Most of our
equipment was scavenged out of the trash or decommissioned by local
businesses and universities. We had it all - oscilloscopes, soldering irons,
spectrum analyzers, satellite and microwave gear, technical book, maga-
zines, television, distributed video, VAX 11/785, 1 could go on and on. Our
environment was better than any of us had at a job or in school and rivaled
any large technical corporation.
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
Neither of the physical buildings that we were based in were particular-
ly thrilling, but the artistic decorations, bits and pieces of discarded and
repurposed technology lines the walls of the LOpht really made it shine.
We had some structure to the LOpht, like having weekly meetings,
keeping meeting minutes, and trying to manage the variety of projects we
were working on. We all had to pay rent and contribute to the day-to-day
operations and general up-keep of the space. But, on the other hand,
it was a completely open and free environment for all of us to work on
projects and dabble in things that we couldn't normally do during our day
jobs or at school.
It's safe to say that we all are most proud of the waves we created in
the hacker community and computer security industry. We were „no
holds barred" when it came to releasing full disclosure research regarding
weak security schemes in software and hardware products. We relished
our description as „media whores" with a goal of spreading the hacker
message far and wide with any media opportunity we could get our hands
on. We were stubborn in our ways, pledged allegiance to no one, and were
determined to make a difference by brute force, because playing nice with
large corporations to get them to fix their products didn't seem to do
much good. And, looking back, I think it worked - the computer security
landscape is heavily based on our then-controversial approach and what
we stuck our necks out on the line to do.
We had so many amazing times, from monthly MIT Flea Market mee-
tings to the infamous LOpht parties (with hackers from around the world
making special trips) to dumpster diving on bicycles at three o'clock in the
morning to going toe-to-toe against Microsoft and other companies. It
was a great time in my life and I wouldn't have changed one thing about it.
Without a doubt, the LOpht was great because of its people. It's an
extremely rare occasion to be able to grow up, hang out, get along, and
work with a group of others. The LOpht was really a place where the whole
was greater than the sum of its parts.
Anyone can find a location for a
hacker space, anyone can bring over
some equipment and set up a lab, but
the real challenge is finding people
you can work with, rely on, and trust
with your personal belongings. I've
seen many hacker spaces come and
go due to lazy members who won't
contribute or pay rent or because
the membership is loose and open to
anyone who wants to join. A hacker
space really is a group project where
everyone needs to make a com-
mitment to the cause, so for those
people starting a hacker space, find
the right people to do it with and
make sure you all have the same goals
before you venture down that road.
The Hacker Half wa y House
Location: Hew York, NY, US
The Hacker Halfway House was not a hackerspace.
We went through many iterations of the design for the space we
wanted to create, each time not sure it was really what we wanted, or how
we should go about figuring that out. Maybe that was our biggest mistake:
not knowing what we wanted, wanting it all, not limiting the scope of our
project to something that was reasonable. Or maybe it really was the crazy
parties. Who knows.
We wanted a space that we could use to work on cool projects. We
wanted a space where we could throw awesome parties. We wanted
a cheap place to live. We even had visions of a hacker-friendly internet
cafe where we lived upstairs and had our living room available for private
We had different visions for what we wanted. We had differing ideas of
addressing the substance vs. style issues. We had people with questionable
financial situations and even more questionable trust. We went as far as
coming up with a business plan and courting angel investors, finding an
empty bar deep in Brooklyn and thinking of how we wanted to convert it,
before we decided that starting a business was not a good idea.
We ended up finding a loft to live in. Most of our problems were based
on the fact that we lived there; we found out the hard way that a geek
house and a hackerspace are not particularly compatible. We ended up
going down the style over substance route, whether we liked it or not.
People got the idea that we were a free hacker hostel, to the point of
where people were asking on Full Disclosure what it was like to stay there.
The parties got out of hand and led to vandalism and general drunken
douche-baggery. Our social scene heavily overlapped with NYC2600,
which may have been the reason for many of our problems (interpret this
as you will). It is honestly surprising there were never any arrests, serious
injuries, or deaths, but that being said... it sure was a lot of fun.
We found out quickly that an environment of that sort isn't sustaina-
ble. Whether due to vandalism, member burnout, objection to having a
name without producing anything, or sketchiness and not being able to
pay the bills, we had a lot of problems that were tough to deal with. The
electric company gave us estimated readings for a year, and then sent us a
decimal-point electric bill. Hardware burned out and the white cat was
black for a week due to massive quantities of airborne toner dust (which is
both explosive and a carcinogen, in addition to being conductive). Over a
few years, people left, new people came in, new people left, things became
The Hacker Halfway House still exists, with two of its original members
still living there.
ft shorn history of the CCC
A Little Background
In the summ er of 2007, 1 went to the Chaos Communications Camp,
a gathering of people who are at the intersection of software, hardware,
hacking, and art. Around 2000 people gathered for a week of hardware
and software hacking, presentations and discussion. I had arrived with 35
others on a coordinated trip called Hackers on a Plane. It was on this trip
around a table in Cologne that the idea for NYCResistor, the hackerspace I
helped found was born.
Camp took place in a former soviet era air force base near Finowfurt
that has been converted to a flight museum. Mig jets were spread out on
the lawn and spectacular light shows lit up the night. It was the perfect
place to have a hacker camp for a week. Fiber optic cables had been laid
down along the railroad tracks to the nearest town giving camp acceptable
One of the presentations that I was really excited about was led by
Jens Ohlig and Nika Bertram about creating text adventure games. Having
grown up on Zork, I was inspired by this presentation enough to play
the text adventure game that Jens created for camp. While I was playing
his game, Jens showed up at the American tent and we got into a great
conversation which led to a spontaneous tutoring session and within a few
hours, Jens and I had created a basic text adventure game.
After expressing my interest in developing hacker spaces in the states,
Jens and I got into a great conversation about the origins and history of the
Chaos Computer Club. The CCC is a group of hardware and software ha-
ckers that has been together as a group since the early days of computing.
As we began chatting, I pulled out my pen and paper and started jotting
down notes. It took me a year to turn those notes into this article and so
if I've gotten anything wrong, or I've forgotten important details, it is my
The Chaos Conputer Club ±381-84
The Chaos Computer Clug began on September 12, 1981 on a Tuesday.
Five people, headed by Wau Holland met with some friends to explore
the issues surrounding the rise of technology and they formed the Chaos
Computer Club. With 1984 around the corner, many people thought
that computers would bring about more surveillance and fascism, but this
fresh group of hackers thought interesting things could be done with new
technology. They gathered to talk about cryptography, bbs, amateur radio,
and build computers. With a strong anti-authoritarian mindset, they felt
that technology should be in the hands of the people and that everyone
should be able to learn anything without hindrance.
A few years later, in 1984 things clicked. It was an auspicious year with
issues of privacy and data surveillance. By that time there was widespread
computer use. Wau had become a software developer but when he
found that the software he worked on was being used by the U.S. military,
he quit and moved to Hamburg which is where the CCC started gaining
One of the frustrations that German computer users had in 1984
was that the German telecom had a monopoly on telecommunications
and charged an arm and a leg for a modem. The members of the CCC
daydreamed of importing the ultra fast 1200 bps modems from America.
It became a crime to connect anything besides a telephone to the tele-
phone network. If caught, you could go to prison for 5 years for hooking
up a modem without an official seal. It was felt that having a computer
answer a phone was illegal.
/appendices/A\ short\ history\ of\ the\ CCC
The CCC confronted this by asking, "Would it be ok to have a cat
answer the phone?" When they got a confused, but positive answer, they
built a contraption made of Lego and a Fischer-Technique model sets that
would lift the phone and place it on an acoustic coupler They called it
"The Cat." The general feeling in the air was of free love, free modems,
and free information transfers. Because of it's monopoly, popular opinion
stood against the telecom industry.
Without imported modems, members of CCC got creative and
engineered a modem you could make yourself and they published
instructions. There were raids when neighbors turned people in for having
a modem. The earmuffs on the home-made acoustic coupler were made
out of plumbing materials, thus earning them the name of "dataloos." To-
day this term lives on at CCC camp where an impressive wireless network
is spread across the camp in networked porta-potties!
In 1984 you could get a BTX machine that combined your telephone
with a tv and keyboard to create a basic networked computer. In France
these were very popular since for a small fee, you could opt out of getting
a telephone directory and get one of the futuristic BTX machines. Instant-
ly, sex chats were the most popular use of these machines.
The CCC felt that they had to be part of this system and were one of
the first to display pages on this telephone/television/computer directory.
Quickly, they also experienced the first case of net censorship. They would
put zany news stories as public service announcements on their page. One
of these public service announcements advised against masturbating with
a certain brand of vacuum due to spinning blades. The vacuum company
heard about it and asked the telecom company to take it off, but after
some investigation, it was found that the research was legitimate and
authentic and the first case of network censorship was resolved.
One of the features of the BTX machines was that you could transfer
micropayments. You could pay for simple games or make donations up to
9.99 Deutsche Mark. There was a donation page for the CCC and mem-
bers of the CCC deduced that the passwords for other company users
could be acquired and they discovered a Hamburg bank's password. Using
the banks password, they had the bank call the donation page for the CCC
donating 9.99 at a time. In the morning, following the transfer, the CCC
announced the first electronic bank robbery. They gave all the money back
to the bank and with this event, the word hacker came into use in Germa-
ny. There weren't any negative connotations to the word since the public
knew that CCC was exposing a vulnerability in the system without harmful
intent. The press heralded them as "Electronic Robin Hoods."
As 1984 came to a close, the first Chaos Communications Congress
convened. It was the first hacker conference and it had less than 100 in
Paradise Lost and a Tine of Flux —
CCC in -the late 88 's
In 1986 German parliament decided to invent laws for computer
crime. Before the field of computing had no laws on the books and it
was an open game. In response to these laws, the Chaos Computer Club
became a registered organization that worked as a lobby group around
issues of telecommunications and data.
In the late 80's a petty criminal with a loose association to the CCC
made contact with the KGB with a list of American computers he had
hacked. Driven by his cocaine habit, he had hacked into ARPA-net (now
DARPA). Although ARPA's network didn't then have the missile launch
codes, it still contained interesting information about the US infrastructure.
When this story hit the press there was a lot of discussions and interviews
with people at the CCC. Shortly after the incident came to light, the
addict's body was found dead under dodgy circumstances. There is a
adaptation of this story that was made into a movie called "23."
With this event, it was as if the CCC had been driven out of paradise.
Public opinion had shifted. In the media, the word hacker had become
tarnished. The term had previously not been negative and some tried to
explain that the people who had committed espionage weren't hackers
but criminals. Despite these attempts at defining vocabulary the atmos-
phere had changed. It was at this time, shortly after this KGB scandal, that
Jens joined the CCC at age 17. He remembers a general feeling of mistrust
and charged emotions. Friendships were strained and the CCC went into
an inactive period.
In 1989 the wall between East and West Germany came down. Behind
the wall in East Germany, you had to basically be a hacker to survive and
so there was a lot of innovation happening there. Technology in East
Germany had been reserved for the wealthy, diplomats, and the privileged.
Despite this, young pioneers in electronics had smuggled computers into
East Germany. When the wall came down, all the rules were changed. Jens
described a situation that a friend had been in on his motorbike in the
just former East Germany. He had been driving down a one-way street
the wrong way when a police officer stopped him. Jens' friend explained
that the one-way road law had changed and with everything in disarray it
wasn't that much of a stretch for the officer to believe him. The officer let
him pass. Everything was in flux.
This malleability made Berlin the perfect place for a hacker collective.
Most CCC activities migrated from Hamburg to Berlin and CCC activities
stepped up a notch. One of the things the community of German hackers
worked on at this time was setting up electronic bulletin board systems,
BBS, for communications in Sarajevo using diesel generators and a satellite
link borrowed from CNN.
Growth, Blinking Lights and Inter-
national Inclusion — the 96's to now
By 1997, the Chaos Computer Club in Berlin was growing rapidly and
local groups started popping up all over Germany. In Cologne, the media
center of Germany, a CCC group called C4 started. After some time, the
folks at C4 realized that many of their club members were getting old
and lame. A cunning and subtle plan was hatched to involve more young
people in the group. C4 developed a hacking contest called U23 for those
under 23 years old which continues to this day. Each year the challenge
switches between hardware and software and the young hackers develop
cooperative teamworking skills alongside technical skill-building develop-
ment. One year, the challenge was to make a robot to follow a line and
read a barcode at the end of it and another year, teams built a chat server
that tunnels over UDR U23 has since been adopted by other teams to
involve young people and keep CCC fresh.
In 1998, the Chaos Computer Club's annual meeting, called Chaos
Communication Congress, moved to a beautiful building with a domed
roof. There were rooms for talks and interpreter cabins but the presence
of asbestos provided a minor speed bump. By this time, the Internet had
entered popular culture. The dot-com boom was ramping up and CCC
grew from about 250 people to 1500. There is a regional group in every
city and because the first meeting of the CCC happened on a Tuesday, all
the groups meet weekly on Tuesdays. While Tuesday CCC meetings are
for members only, many regional branches have a public night for talk and
discussion either weekly or monthly on a Thursday.
In 2001, Wau Holland, the founder of CCC died suddenly of a brain
tumor. It was the 20th birthday of CCC and an exhibition and historical
interpretation center had been planned. Despite the setback of losing their
founder, many special things happened that year including, blinkenlights.
I met Tim Pritlove to hear about the history of Blinkenlights. Blinken-
lights was an installation set up in the teacher's building in downtown Ber-
/appendices/A\ short\ history\ of\ the\ CCC
lin. It was a matrix of windows that could be lit up to create an array of
18 x 8 lights. HI talk more about this amazing project in another article.
After the 2003 Congress, it was decided to open up the group
and make it more international. The format of Congress switched to
mostly English presentations and overseas speakers were invited. Ha-
cker camping conferences in Europe were started by the Dutch early
on in 1993 and they followed that four years later in 1997. The CCC got
inspired and started their own camp on an alternate four-year cycle in
1999 and 2003 and 2007.
These days, the CCC continues to be a busy ambitious orga-
nization. It has grown from its small roots in Hamburg, moved it's
headquarters to Berlin, and then spread with smaller and wonderful
regional groups around the country.
Currently the CCC is becoming more involved in political struggles.
While chatting with Jens, he reflected that it seems that every week,
a CCC member is working with parliament on one or more issues
that effect freedom, digital rights, and the crossroads of technology
and lawmaking. For many in the CCC, fighting for your rights and
hacking are inseparable. Some of the current issues facing the CCC are
pointing out security problems with RFID passports, the unfairness of
discriminatory visa waivers and other security problems. The CCC is
generally considered by average Germans to be the last line of defense
for freedom and civil rights in Germany in the digital age.
This is the last post about the history of the Chaos Computer Club,
but the story doesn't end here. After returning from camp, some new
friends and I started NYCResistor to have a hacker space of our own
locally. A special thanks goes out to Nick Farr, the Johnny Appleseed of
hacker spaces who organized the wonderful Hackers on a Plane trip.
Not only did he organize a super affordable trip to go to defcon and
the Chaos Communication Camp, but after camp he organized a tour
and myself and a wide-eyed bunch of hackers visited C-Base, Metalab,
Das Labor, C4, Entropia and Netz Laden. Each community has it's own
way of cultivating community around hacking.
i • i
• • ••
Bl inkenl ights
In the fall of 2008, the citizens of Toronto might have been wondering
if they'd walked onto the set of Bladerunner when they looked up at the
two curved towers of their city hall to find it transformed into a giant dis-
play showing user generated movies and games. They might have blinked
their eyes a few times before they realize that they haven't time-traveled
to a city with flying cars but are, in fact, looking at Stereoscope, the latest
and most epic blinkenlights project to date. Each window of the two maje-
stic and curved towers will become a blinking pixel wirelessly networked to
create the most amazing dual monitor system ever.
Blinkenlights is the brain child of Tim Pritlove, the cunning schemer,
dischordianist preacher and host of Chaosradio, the popular German po-
dcast. With co-conspirator Thomas Fiedler, they pulled together a rockstar
team for each version of blinkenlights to make buildings into much more
than buildings. I heard about the project while at the Chaos Communi-
cations Camp in 2007. 1 met Tim to get the scoop on the history of the
history of blinkenlights project.
Blinkenlights all started in 2001. The year marked the 20th anniversary
of the Chaos Computer Club which was started in 1981. Wau Holland,
founder of the CCC had just surprised everyone by dieing and the moti-
vation to do something really special to mark the 20 year anniversary was
high. A five-day retrospective exhibition about the history of the CCC was
set to take place in the Congress building in Berlin and a nearby landmark,
the teacher's building, was being remodeled and empty. Tim had the keys
to the building and his initial idea was to create a giant CCC design in lights
on the side of the building but when Tim quietly mentioned this idea to a
few select friends, their instant reaction was that they had to play Tetris on
the side of a building. Within hours a crackerjack team of 8 people were
huddled around a table planning the first building-sized display screen.
Was it possible? Would it work?
They kept the project secret and after a mere five weeks of hacking
without much sleep, the hardware and software had been set up and it
worked. 8 floors of 18 windows each for a total 144 lights needed to be
controlled and nside the building a network of cables, wound around
the building like a 1000 lost snakes. If you were in the building when it
was running, you could hear the relays clicking on and off. The windows
were painted white to diffuse the light. After a short delay due to 9/11, the
project went live and was up and running for 6 months. The components
were hammered with activity and amazingly, only 30% of the lights had to
be changed in that time and 50% of the relays. The team got to the point
where they could tell which animation was up because of the sounds of
the relays echoing through the building.
While the world was confronting the stress of the terrorist action, the
team programmed the building to show a gently beating heart into the
night. Shortly after launching, one blinkenlight team member, an ISDN
expert, hacked together a pong game that you could play on the building
with cell phones. You called a number and got connected to the display,
which converted the tones from your phone to the ups and downs of the
paddle controller. The whole thing was set up to be simple because it had
What really sets this first project apart is the interactive component.
The blinkenlights team put out a Shockwave app to convert movies and
a design app was released for people to create their own animations.
The first animation they got from a stranger was a personal love letter
animation saying simply, "I love you Julia." They played it on the building
and suddenly, everyone just got it. The team set it up so that anyone could
submit an animation over email and when it was approved, they would get
a confirmation number. With this number you could call the building and
dial your confirmation message and your animation would show on the
building. Declarations of love and proposals of marriage ensued and Tim
told me that the apex of the project was when he got tracked down by
man who was desperate to get back together with his girlfriend. He plea-
ded with Tim to put his animation on the building. Desperately he claimed,
"My girlfriendjust left me, Blinkenlights is my last hope!"
As we chatted, Tim lit up when recounting some of the early hand-
crafted animations. Make sure to check them out in the above video. My
personal favorite is the animation of the cat that stretches.
Because of the interactivity and public generated animations, the instal-
lation was adopted by the public as their own. Blinkenlights had turned a
boring part of Berlin into something vital, interactive, and special. When
/a ppendices XB 1 inkenl ights
Tim began passing out party invitations for the closing of the installation,
the standard reply was, "NO! You can't take it away from us! It's ours!" A
circular saw dramatically severed the huge bundle of cable that networked
the lights and the project went dark. The building had to be returned to
regular use and the lights went black for the blinkenlights project.
But even though the installation came down, the project didn't die.
A year later, in 2002, Tim was approached by the Nuit Blanche festival
in France and asked to repeat Blinkenlights in Paris. Having had such a
successful experience in Berlin, Tim swore that blinkenlights would only be
revived if presented with a really interesting building. The French rose to
the challenge by offering the Bibliotheque Nationale de France as a blin-
kenlights platform. The blinkenlights team stepped up their game, rewrote
the software, and new hardware was installed with a dedicated linux box
on every floor. The matrix was expanded to 20 floors with 26 windows on
each floor with 520 windows in total. Members of the Gimp develop-
ment team were brought onto the project. The blinkenlight project was
upgraded to display grayscale animations and the phone interface rang off
the hook. It was a glorious and short two week performance, but again the
blinkenlights project was thrust into darkness where it would remain for 6
Now, with Stereoscope, Blinkenlights is on the brink of being back
stronger than ever. The City of Toronto asked the blinkenlights team if
they would be interested in joining another Nuit Blanche (as they did in
Paris in 2002). Short on time and with a lot of ambition, they decided to
redesign and push the envelope on the project to make it wireless for
The Toronto City Hall since there would be 960 windows split up in two
I needed to know more so I asked Tim to break it on down and give up
with a new project (not counting two small Blinkenlights reprises at the
original location). But in May 2008, the City of Toronto asked us if we
would be interested in joining another Nuit Blanche (as we did in Paris in
2002) in October 2008. There was really not much time left, so we imme-
diately started working on this baby with a few really tough deadlines to be
met. Especially because we did not want to go with the same technology
we used back in 2002. The Toronto City Hall was even bigger than the
Bibliotheque nationale de France (960 vs. 520 windows), split up in two
towers and we also wanted to push the envelope a bit. So we came up
with the idea of going mostly wireless to save setup time. Although being
a much bigger installation, we will probably need only half the time to set
everything up - if things won't go wrong of course.
What makes the stereoscope special?
The facade of Toronto City Hall is special in many ways. First there are
two separate towers: both of different height and width. Both facaces are
split in two parts of unequal size because there are mechanical floors in the
middle without windows. Even more important the towers have a curved
structure and all the windows are faced inwards. This makes it impossible
to see all the windows at the same time regardless from where you are. All
our previous installations presentedjust one single screen very much like
the screens we are used to on our computers.
Blinkenlights is not about building displays. It's about participation of
people and interpretation of architecture. So we try to "speak the langu-
age of the building." To compensate for the difficult viewing angles, we
promote a fluid appearance: things move slowly - what you can't see now
you will see in a few moments. This all also underlines the strange spatial
appearance of the facade - hence the name Stereoscope ("spatial view").
We'll see how this all turns out - we never know how are installations will
feel before. It's going to be a surprise to us as it is to the casual viewer.
What's the story of the stereoscope project?
How hard was it to create an iphone app?
After having had a variety of new attempts around Europe that didn't
work out (due to either financial reasons or building owners that withdrew
their support in the last minute) it took six years until we could come up
The idea to create an application for a mobile device is as old as our
project. But in 2001/2 there was nothing on the horizon that could do
that. The iPhone however is the device we have been waiting for.
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
First of all we wanted this app to be useful to everybody. So we
focused on a simulator that provides a real time view of what is going
on. Everyone can load the app and tune in live - wherever they want (as
long they have Internet access of course). The foundation for this we had
in our code for a very long time - as we have been using IP packets for
frame distribution inside our installation all along it just took a copy to be
streamed to individual applications that could display the data stream on
some kind of visualizer
The blinkensim program of our original toolkit did that. An intelligent
proxy - the blinkenproxy - enhanced this to an on-demand model: the
proxy constantly receives the data stream from a single source and re-
distributes the stream to every simulator that asks for a copy. We hope
our infrastructure scales well enough to handle demand. For Stereoscope
we enhanced our protocol in many ways: each packet is realtime-stamped
so the simulator can display the time the stream was generated - either in
real time or as a playback from an archival copy. We also added support
for multiple screens as Stereoscope supports the notion of individual
subscreens and virtual matrixes and more.
We wanted the application to be really really beautiful to look at. So we
put together a team of gifted 3D and 2D graphic artists and two excellent
iPhone/Mac-Programmers: the Coding Monkeys from Munich, known
for their collaborative text editor SubEthaEdit and the useful Circula-
tor iPhone application. They all joined forces and the result is a pretty
outstanding little app that allows to view the building from any angle or
predefined viewpoints while it fluidly displays the data stream coming
from our central server.
Due to the strange distribution model and the long approval times
of the iTunes App Store we might not be able to add more functionality.
Every update usually needs a week to show up which is really bad for such
a time critical piece. We have tons of more ideas on how to turn this app
into a location-aware controller allowing for collaborative painting and
other nice ideas. Well see how it turns out in the end. Project Blinkenlights
is always work in progress and we will keep the data stream running after
we have to take down the installation itself so that we can continue to play
and experiment with a virtual building for future installations.
What's broken so far? Has anyone been hurt?
Setup is going really well and we are confident to be ready in time. No
casualties so far, knock on wood.
Are you going to port the old movies to the new project and are you specifically
going to show a video of a woman dancing in greyscale?
Well show a medley of old and new stuff. The new multiple-layer
core of our software allows multiple movies and games to run at the same
time, target different subscreens and such. There are more new features in
the code than I think we can make use of in just two weeks. Well see. Con-
cerning the dancing woman, I was just being told the original data is locked
in a computer that is wrapped in plastic standing in a cellar in a small house
in the Australian outback. I guess we won't make it in time to revive that
particular animation. But we want to go for new original content anyway.
There is a capable set of tools available for the Mac. We have built an infra-
structure to use Quartz Composer to create animations for Stereoscope
and we hope experienced designers will use it to create cool stuff. There is
a stand-alone 3D simulator for the Mac as well (not yet as beautiful as the
iPhone version but we're working on that). There will be additional tools
for Mac and Windows like a Blinkenpaint-style editor for smaller movies
and an updated blinkensim simulator for Linux and BSD Unix. There are
third-party tools for as well that we will list on the website.
Is there anything else people should know about the project?
All of our hardware and software will be out in the open. The wireless
dimmer technology will be released under a Creative Commons license
and the new code will be either BSD or GPL licensed. We are still thinking
of Project Blinkenlights as an open platform and something that should
evolve and grow. We'd like to see both software and hardware hackers
to take up on the work we have done and come up with new ideas and
extensions. We really hope we are not again running into such a long phase
of inactivity and will be able to pursue a followup project sooner than later.
It might be a nice idea to go ahead with a virtual representation of former
installations but I guess it is the real world where it gets interesting as stuff
needs to be tangible for people. Nothing beats reality.
-j« ■■ mc
i 11 bi ni
: n *!■ OK
1 IB ■■■ 'IB:
*. ■■ if a BE
r ibi. rJB «■■.
r ■§■ ■■ !!■ I
^' 1 Mj
LLtK J ll B^S^I
■Mkl ► ~J&jimB'^ IjbJVbVI Bbi.
' — Pyt'P r
HackerSpace Design Patterns
In 2007, a number of meek and lonely hackers from the States went
on the Hackers On A Plane adventure going to Chaos Communication
Camp and then traveling around Europe visiting hackerspaces. When they
arrived at C4 in Cologne, Jens Ohlig and Lars Weiler gave the first presen-
tation of the Hackerspace Design patterns. It's a document made with the
wisdom of doing it wrong in so many wonderful and disastrous ways. It's
not a rule book, but it's a set of guidelines that may point you in the right
direction straight into chaos. Upon hearing these words, the meek and
lonely hackers hearts became strong and they emerged from the safety of
the miserable and became dramatically stupidly brave.
You need a space for meetings and as a lab, to store and work on mate-
rials for projects. In order to minimize rent or out of sympathy,
you think it's great when someone lives in your space. But somehow it
doesn't work, as you cannot use the lab anymore.
You want to chill, discuss, or work in small groups. But the main room is
occupied: There are simply too many people at your space. Or you want
to smoke a cigarette at the space without disturbing non-smokers.
Without further ado, here are some problems addressed in the
Hackerspace Design Patterns! Want answers? Either start a hackerspace or
use teh internet to find them!
As a human being, you need food. As a hacker, you need ca eine and
food at odd times.
You have a chicken-and-egg-problem: What should come rst? Infra-
structure or projects?
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There must be something
else in addition to workstations and electronics.
Is now really the time to start your hacker space? Shouldn't you wait?
Have you really thought of all the problems?
After long hacking sessions, you will start to smell funny. Also, guests to
your space sometimes neglect personal hygiene.
How should your group communicate?
You need to pay your rent and utilities. Larger projects need to be
You want to set up a hacker space in your city alone. You fail.
You think it's a good idea to meet at a company that likes you or at a
university where most of you study anyway.
Nothing gets done. You all want the hacker space, but it's so hard to
get o your asses.
You want to resolve internal con icts, exercise democratic decision
making, and discuss recent issues and future plans.
You have found the perfect hacker space, but the landlord seems to be
weird. Also, the neighbors are picky.
Every weekday sucks. You will not nd any day when every hacker can
attend a meeting. Someone always has an appointment.
/appendices/HackerSpace Design Patterns
You want to draw in new people and provide an interface to the
You suggest creating something new for your hacker space, like a bike
shed. But now everybody is talking about its colour. No bike
shed will be built.
Your older members graduate from college or get married. Your space
needs fresh blood.
Someone causes a problem that cannot be resolved in the group.
You did everything right. You had some big events and a nice time in
your shiny hacker space. But after some time the enthusiasm
goes away and your projects are stagnating.
You can't bring in shiny new hardware, as there is no space left. Your
space has become a hardware museum lied with junk.
You need to make a group decision and want to make sure no one
gets left behind.
You want the hacker space accessible all the time. You don't want to
call somebody else during the night to lock the hacker space
when you leave.
You need to make a group decision. Discussion does not seem to lead
You need to raise funds. You want to stay up longer at night.
Nobody does the dishes. Your hacker space looks crappy. No one
seems to care.
These problens of developing your
own hacking coMMunity await your
curious Mind !
All your excuses are invalid!
You started as a community of like-minded people, but suddenly you
nd yourself in a dictatorship run by a single hacker.
You volunteered for the task of running a critical piece of infrastruc-
ture, e.g. the mail server, but you feel the sudden urge to
You are in the middle of your weekly plenum. Everybody's yelling,
nothing gets done.
HackerbotLabs! The Taglines
If we can't hack it, you still own it.
Prompting recalls since 2005.
Come „Don't touch that" with us!
Like prom night, for your warranty.
No ID required, well print one for you.
Can I borrow your phone for a minute?
Find us on OK Cupid.
Hold my beer while I take the cover off this.
Show me your bits.
Because gadget molestation is fun!
What's in your pocket?
Breaking seals since 2005.
Building better breakage.
Hackers. BDSM. LAstRiPpers. You do the math.
Solder is just another name for spit and baling wire.
Smoke is how a circuit board expresses love.
Aggression therapy for Geeks.
Good People, bad ideas.
Privacy is obsolete, for most of you.
Two legs good, two digits bad.
Warranty-voiding, swashbuckling, password-hacking hooligans.
You bought it, we broke it.
Warning Digital Hazards Next OxFA Miles.
Bootstrapping the Robot Revolution.
Slogan removed by DMCA.
Geeks, Freaks, and Tweaks.
We know better but we do it anyways.
BYOSSL Bring Your Own Stimulants Solder and Lube.
Putting the NS in NSFW
Do look at laser with remaining eye.
Warranties voided wholesale.
Netzladen! The 23 Golden Rules
1. Don't tinker with the mixing table at the audio setup.
2. If you tinker with the mixing table, make sure to tinker it back to the starting position.
3. Pay your drinks as you take them, you'll forget about it otherwise.
4. If you're a geek, fix the music computer.
5. No wait. The computer's broken, don't bother.
6. If you have used the terminal called „Muhsann", turn off the screen after using.
7. The leader of each group (for anarchists: your leading anarchist) should make sure that everything is left in a tidy way.
8. Toilets: Use the left one if you pee sitting down, the right one if you pee standing up.
9. Or the other way round.
10. Always dispose your bottles etc. yourself on Fridays.
11. Put back drinks in the fridge if you take something out.
12. Put the frigging CDs back in their covers.
13. Close the Afri-Cola fridge by pushing it hard.
14. When ordering pizza, it is your duty to ask others if they want to order something using the megaphone.
15. It's forbidden to hide the megaphone.
16. The terror buttons on the mixing table may only be operated by Ingo.
17. Scotty the dog always has a place on the couch in the corner.
18. Do the dishes.
19. Don't tinker with the clocking device in the fridge.
20. AT LEAST tell people when something's broken.
21. Random rule.
22. There are exactly 23 rules which are golden.
23. Don't do anything we wouldn't do if we were in your place.
NYCResis-torl The Interviews
Max Whitney sent us the straight interviews she did with seven of the founders
of NYCResistor - not to print them in the book, but because she was thinking listening
to these people would help us, putting together this book about the many different
aspects of starting a hackerspace.
However, we think these interviews are damn interesting and insightful - and so
we featured them anyway Thanks a ton to Max.
George Shammas' story
I was a hacker on a plane. I never went to a hacker conference before.
Not ToorCon, not HOPE, none of that mum bo jumbo. My friend Peter
went to HOPE without me. After he went to that, we decided that if I was
going to go to a hacker conference, we were going to go balls out.
We heard about Hackers on a Plane. The HOAP website looked like
a scam. It was so crappy. And it was like ,,1337" dollars. We paid the 1,337
dollars anyway. Much to our own shame, we figured paypal would give us
our money back if it was hugely scammy.
I went from Defcon, which was my first hacker conf, to Germany,
throwing snakes at the superintendents. As we got to the checkpoint to
get on the plane, we all had all these electronic projects in our bags. One
guy had 40 DD batteries in his bag. The checkers just kept saying go-go-go-
go. Nobody stopped long enough to get into the electronic stuff we were
On our second city I met Bre for the first time in a bar. It wasn't until
the last two days that we figured out we were from the same city. Then
we thought that we thought we had to create one of these things. We
spent 4 hours picking a name. Our method: brute forcing domain names
until we found one that was free. Maybe that's why Resistor's not the best
Like four days after I got back I called Bre and said: when are we going
to do this thing. I didn't know yet that you're supposed to lose all your
motivation right after a hacker conf. I thought you just kept going with all
the awesomeness, so I didn't know better than to push it on.
If I had tried to do this myself I would have failed terribly, because I was
this young kid (ed: last year). I really credit Bre's ability to get it to the make
blog and everything else. Bre, Peter and I had about six meetings without
anyone else turning up. There's an epical ly old picture with my hands
going: „Bah!" that was taken between our first and second meeting. Peter
is the invisible never existent founder.
We decided we needed public events to start getting people: thus the
Microcontroller Study Group. That was at Lemurplex with Eric Singer. Eric
thought we were really cool, mostly because of Bre, and he let us have our
first thing there. I thought we would have 3 people, and there were like
35. There was some disappointment in that people were expecting a real
study group and we were only prepared to show projects.
Justin Day and Zach Hoeken were at that first meeting. Justin was like I
dunno about you guys and disappeared for a while, but he came back.
It took six months from the first Microcontroller Study Group to fin-
ding a lease. We had meetings every week at Lemurplex. There were lots
of people who cycled in and out of that group. The planning and creation
of the physical space was the best thing for me.
Bre went to Vienna and CCC (like he is now). As soon as he left the
whole thing vanished. I underestimated how much of it was him. When he
came back he was like, „Okay now!" And within like three weeks we had all
the money and most of the founding members together.
The founders were: Pat, Dave, Bre, George, Diana, Skiff, Nick, Zach, Raf.
Everyone plunked down $1k as seed money. Once there was 9K in
the bank, people's motivation went through the roof to get a space. Dave
Clausen is responsible for finding a space. He visited like six spaces and
everyone else visited like one.
Thus ends George's story.
/appendices/NVCResistor:\ The\ Interviews
Dave Clausen and Diana Eng's story
How did you find out about all this?
Diana: I saw Bre at a party and he's like come to the Microcontroller
Study Group, so I went to the MSG and I was the only girl and I was like
this is weird, because there were like twenty or more guys. There were
neat projects and Bilton was there and Raf was there and Zach was there
and they seemed pretty cool ... so I stayed but only really because I didn't
really talk to anyone else but them. That was at Lemurplex. I was supposed
to be on the mailing list, but I wasn't on the list so I missed a bunch of
meetings until Bre called me and was like J'm worried about you." And I
was like J missed them."
Dave: I found out about it on the Make blog or some blog so I went to
that. I was the only outsider. They all knew each other. I brought Pat in later.
I was pushy. After one of the MSG meetings and I was like whatever I want
in. You guys should let me in. And so they did.
You can see what it is. It's fucked up. It's illegal. There were other
people who were trying to get the space. I kept pushing the primary lea-
seholder to sign a lease with us. I finally got her to dump those other zeros
and sign with us. Eventually they're going to tear the whole block down
and build a park or some shit.
Diana: The first meeting in the loft was ^everybody bring a chair/' but I
didn't bring a chair, so I had to sit on a bucket.
Dave: At first it was kinda sucked because we couldn't always get
Lemurplex so sometimes we'd meet in a cafe. Pretty much when we
signed a lease it all just sort of gelled. We're going to do it. And since that
moment the energy really changed. Now we have the space and now we
really have to make it happen. So we started with classes and getting more
members. Once we got the space it was like 5 times the amount of energy
Thus ends Dave and Diana's story.
What about the $1K?
Diana: Before X-mas, we had to get all the money together. We
weren't in recession then, so it didn't seem like a lot of money. I could buy
2 pairs of shoes or I could do this.
Dave: I was a little more hesitant. I wanted some concrete explanation
of what was going to happen with the money, so I resisted a little bit.
Eventually I was satisfied that this was going to be not just fucked up and
thrown away. So yeah.
How did you find the space?
Nick Bilton's Story
How did you find the MSG?
I didn't find the Microcontroller Study Group. I was like the 2nd or 3rd
person. I won the Yahoo hackday with a coworker. My coworker was like
„My roommate is Bre Pettis. You should tell him about winning hackday."
But so I went to Secret Science Club one night and I met Bre. He was
leaving for Hackers on a Plane. I was like „Come eat lunch at the Times
when you come back." He came back and ate lunch and was like „l want to
Dave: We were looking for beat up spaces and decent rents. We
focused on Dumbo or park slope or downtown Brooklyn. We divided up
the neighborhoods. I got downtown and Raf got Park Slope. I looked at
a few spots. A couple spots in Dumbo. There were a couple spots in Park
Slope like 3rd ave. This space I found on Craigslist. This is one of the first
spots we found.
Peter, George, Bre and me invited a bunch of people. There were 6
of us. There was this girl and her friend and some guy and us. We met at
Lemurplex. The girl was a seriously real deal hacker and she got in a big
argument with Bre about should we be a .com or .org and they went at it
for like an hour and finally Bre was like „Ok! Enough!"
They stopped coming.
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
We had meetings every week and they went for like 4 hours. This guy
Pat started coming, he never comes around anymore. Raf started coming.
We started doing the Microcontroller Study Group. I did a class on
how to do 3D molds using silicon. Diana brought some stuff. Bre did a
demo of his LED cube array and it started going from there. Then we just
used to meet all the time every Tuesday night for like 3 or 4 hours, and
Zach started coming. We met at 'snice in the city one night to fill out all
the tax forms and now here we are today.
Why throw the 1K?
Because I was into the idea of having a space that I could be in and I
could work and be with really interesting people who are building really in-
teresting things and that I could learn from and teach. It was about having
a collective of people that I could work with.
People who showed up who were really difficult and abrasive and
difficult to deal with. We had an Arduino class. This guy showed up, well
call him Dick, and he was just like very weird. He was like up in people's
faces telling them what they were doing wrong. And he was like, „what are
you doing using Arduino?? There are all these other chips and like what
are you?!?" And we're like„What? It's an Arduino class" and he was all like
complaining. I told him Jf you could just work on your project it would be
cool." Zach pulled me outside and was like „What do we do?" And I was
like, „l dunno, what we do?" And then later someone else like pulled me
out and was like „What do we do?" And I was like „l dunno, what do we
Then Skiff showed up and he had his parents with him. This guy Dick
starts getting up in the parents' face. So Skiff pulled us out and was like
,,1'm going to tell this guy he has to leave." And we were like „Yay!" So Skiff
There were terse discussions in the beginning about how we wanted
to set up the space: should there be tables around the perimeter and eve-
rybody gets their own workspace or should there be tables in the middle
and everybody just works where ever. We ended up with both, but that
was a bit of a discussion for a while.
The philosophy anyone starting a hacker group should know is : whoe-
ver invites people into the group is fine, but if anyone feels uncomfortable
with that person then they shouldn't be allowed to be a key-holding
It's important that people not try to take credit for things they haven't
Hey, we should do the 10 commandments of a hacker space, like: Wear
deoderant. You know things like that. Don't steal people's LEDs.
Thus ends Bilton's story.
Raf Abram's story:
I met Bre at the Maker Fair in Austin. You know how that is. Everyone
meets at Maker Fair. I had this rental car. Somehow we ended up lost in the
rental car because we decided to use Google Maps, so I think that's why
he remembered me.
Bre called me up to come to the original meetings, before we even
thought about having a space, really just a meetup. Not a thing.
I think he was researching people who were coming to those meetings,
secretly, to form the real group. So that's how I ended up here just by being
a chatty knowledgeable person, a chatty nerd.
Microcontroller Study Group was less nerdy than they could have
been but still nerdy. It was a flourescent lit room with people with maybe
a handful of inspired amateur projects, then we would attempt to do
some sort of communal thing. Sometimes we would pull something off,
/appendices/NVCResistor:\ The\ Interviews
sometimes we wouldn't, then we would go get food at the local diner. We
wouldn't not pull something off because we failedjust because we got
It didn't take long to actually form a group. I started going to those
meetings in like fall and then in February we had this space. It was really just
a few months and the meetings were only like once a week or less at that
Why the 1k?
We couldn't have done it without Bre. He definitely has that kind of
charismatic thing going on. It took a while for people to not look at him
when presenting ideas for critique. It was kind of I ike remember, we are all
equals here." People's personalities do establish themselves after a while.
But yeah, that was good. You know what it was, he just knows everybo-
dy. You need someone with a huge social network who is able to actually
cull those numbers down to people who will actually work in this thing
together. But then he was willing to give up power completely almost
I wanted this place to happen and I happened to have some money.
The timing was good. Normally I don't have a thousand dollars to plunk
down on something like this. It was purely I just wanted a thing like this.
And a thousand dollars is an incredibly low price to pay for a giant playland
There were no disasters. It's terribly boring that it all works terribly
well. To this day literally nothing has gone wrong. Living in NY is miserable
enough that we don't need any more conflict, maybe that's why it worked
Don't expect anything in return for your money. Agree that your mo-
ney is basically gone. It's just gone. And maybe a hackerspace will happen.
Then you'll all be much happier. That 1K, I'm not going to get that back.
And I don't expect anyone who comes later to match that. That's not the
point of that.
What would I change; not a whole lot. I'd get a place with cross-
ventilation. That's about it. In a prettier neighborhood. But once you step
through the door it's pretty nice inside. Now most of the people here
don't have my incredibly anal need for perfect air.
Thus ends Raf's story.
Zach „Hoeken" Smith's Story:
How did you find the Microcontroller Study Group?
The internet came into my veins through my tattoos (editor's note:
Zach has an Ethernet port tattooed on his inner elbow, where the needle
goes) and that's how I found out about it. I came to one of the first ones
and yeah that was great.
Before I heard of NYCR I was renting like the upper half of the college-
humor.com studios in like this warehouse in that place, what do you call it,
oh yeah, Williamsburg. It was just me, it was hot, it was out of the way. And
as soon as I heard there was a community of hackers wanting to form up I
just knew that like I had to be a part of it. I slowly insinuated my way in and
helped get it started and now I have a really fun cool place to work and like
hack and hang out and drink Club-Mate.
Were you involved with the RepRap already?
I was doing RepRap, just starting to get involved with RepRap, starting
to get involved in like electronics and fumbling my way through and not
really understanding a lot about it. The first NYCR MSG I went to I brought
a design to a circuit board I was working on. It was my first design. I mailed
it to the list before the meeting. I showed it to Raf and he helped me with
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
it and I eventually got it made and it's one of these boards here (points to
one of the boards running the RepRap). It was awesome. Finding a group
of people who were really smart but really fun and willing to share.
I know community was really important because I was trekking out 10
blocks from the subway station to work on this thing I really cared about,
but no one I could really share with. There were a couple other people at
that space, but no one I could show a circuit board to who would be really
excited. So after that first meeting I knew I had to make it really work. And
the way to do that was to really pitch in.
I wanted to be treasurer because I knew one of the easiest ways for
something like this to fail was to run out of money. And I knew I could
make sure that wouldn't happen. So for me that was the easiest way to
make sure it didn't fail.
How was it resigning as treasurer?
to learn new things and to be around like minded people. I think we really
accomplished what we set out to do and if we continue in the way we
have and still have a space then I think I will be very happy. Oh and I hope
more Resistors quit their jobs.
Any new monster projects you want to see?
There's always RepRap. That's a lifetime project. I've come to terms
with it. I've gotten involved in barbot, helping out Adam, which is going
to be really fun because I'm going to be in charge of the pumping system
which is just hilarious.
What do you want people to know about Resistor?
Resistor shouldn't be unique. This shouldn't be read as like„Wow look
at what those guys did!" It should be like J'm going to do that too." Using
your brain beats the hell out of not using your brain.
Mostly I just hoped people wouldn't make fun of me. I hoped there
wasn't going to be a backlash. I had taken on a lot of responsibility and
needed to pass some of that. I think it went really well (passing it off). I laid
out why I couldn't do it anymore, and Skiff stepped up, took it over. And
yeah that's the way that stuff should work. You say why you can't do it
and someone else who can do it takes it on. I think it's working really well
because now there's more than one person who knows how to do the
money stuff. It's spread out a little bit.
You're the only person who hasn't talked a lot about Bre...
Bre? Definitely one of the pillars of Resistor. He's pretty much my first
experience with that. I got involved probably from a blog post that Bre
wrote. But like so a few weeks after that, him and Bilton came to the studio
and started talking bout how we should really do this thing. So yeah.
Thus ends Zach's story.
Why the 1K?
Because nobody else was going to. You gotta put your money where
your mouth is. Because I believe in the do-ocracy You gotta put something
on the line to follow your dreams. If you're not willing to put something on
the line to follow your dreams, then they don't deserve to come true.
What do you want this place to be doing in another year?
In another year? My hope is that we don't stray from being a nice plea-
sant place for people to come and work on the things they're interested in,
Eric Skiff's Story:
Bre and I met down at South-by (SXSW) a couple years ago. We just
kinda got along, so when he moved to New York City, and knowing him
through Social Media and South-by Bre got hooked up with Frisbee 2.0
that I was running at the time. We just kinda clicked. So when Podcamp
Philly came around we decided to all take a bus together, some Social
Media folks and me and also Bre. Bre had just been on Hackers on a Plane.
He was very excited. I had done some very light hardware tinkering and
wanted to do more. I said„Okay! Sign me up!"
/appendices/NVCResistor:\ The\ Interviews
We started meeting at Lemurplex. I was doing some stuff, but then
there came a crunch time when we were like, „Are we going to do this?
Are we in?" Bre, Raf and I sat down over brunch and really said, „How do
we pay for this?" Raf had some great ideas about teaching classes and do-
ing things to pay for the group. To this day I think he was pretty prescient
about how many classes we could teach and how much we could bring in.
That was sort of the birth of this space, that brunch.
I sorta checked out for a while, planning barcamp and I lived up in Asto-
ria, so I wasn't really involved in finding the space. But once we had it, it was
just, „Okay this is our home."
So at that point I really dove in. For the next couple weeks I was just
totally passionate about going out and buying stuff and like building the
loft and being like, „Okay! // And then being okay too when Dave Clausen
rebuilt it to be less deadly.
We used to meet at Bre's apt and hang out on the roof. It really existed
even then. So many of us trust each other so much that we would give
each other the keys to our houses, that was key to it working. That trust
really led to attracting more people like that. The best practices document
that Bre had from CCC (the design patterns thing), that is also an incredible
map of where we've come. We can read back through that and go, „Yeah,
we really did that and it really works."
Anyone staring a hackerspace should read and trust that document
more than they think they should. It's not a bible. We didn't do everything,
but yeah really good thinking has gone into it. Things like yeah, really
maybe no one should live at the space.
What was it like when you first saw the space?
I saw an amazing blank space, and I saw that it was far larger than I
thought we could get. I underestimated how much putting 20 people to-
gether could actually get. It's a good thing the floors and walls are made of
solid concrete. It's a good thing this place is a little rough around the edges.
It's hard for us to damage this place and that's a really good thing. The
gingerbread housefires, that whole scene could really only happen here.
There are a couple reasons why I love this place so much and why it's
successful and those are all people and the various things they brought.
I could namedrop every single person and say this person was critical,
but I think it's fair to say that without the group that came together we
wouldn't have had the vibe, we wouldn't have had the projects to rally
around. We cobbled together an LED oscilloscope and how to cast a 3D
model and every week there was something new and interesing to play
with, while alongside that we were working on the hard infrastucture stuff.
There's a lot of slogging so you have to mix in the fun stuff that gives you
the hint of what's to come.
Are the people the founding nine?
Not even all the orginal people, there were new infusions of awesome
as we went and that kept those wheels spinning.
Why the W
Once the vision was articulated there was no hesitation. This needs to
exist. We are the people with the power to do it. And done! And among
the various things on which I could have spent a thousand doallars this is
the one about which I will be the proudest.
I think the core of the reason we're successful from the outside and
also internally is that so many of us have a passion for learning and don't
get to do it that much. We try, we poke around at things ourselves and
we read as much as we can but until someone puts two things together
and shows you how and you get that spark, yeah! There's the classes and
the focus on learning, that's I think part of the reason we're so respected
from the outside. We are here to share what we do, not to hold it just for
ourselves. That's one of our core tenets. If you're just getting together to
hack, then I thinkyou're missing a big piece of it.
What's the next big thingyou'd like to see happen?
The robotic arm that Bre and I did got me completely excited about
amateur robotics. Not just building them, people have built things much
cooler than I ever can, but getting regular people started. That first thing
hackerspac esCthe_beg inning I w tt
where you take something you do in the software realm and make some-
thing move is really cool. Taking what we did with the robotic arm and
trying to make it a kit would be really cool. Almost an Arduino for robotics.
Keep it cheap, keep it simple, keep it extensible. Put it out there and see
what people do with it.
Zach chimes in: I had the same experience when I made something
move for the first time.
Eric: It's like that Neo moment. You already have control over how the
computer works, but suddenly for the first time, you have control over
I don't think there are any disaster stories. There are important near
misses. I came from a background of total openness with barcamps under
my belt. I wanted everyone who wanted to make this work to be a part
of it. Thankfully not everyone felt that way. Some people understood that
even though everyone may want to help, some people may be better
equipped to do it. We made some good choices in the group. I'm much
happier with the way we've done it. I have some guilt about some of the
folks who didn't get invited to be part of that core group. They're totally
invited to participate but they just didn't need to be invited to be part of
In an alternate reality, without Resistor, what would you be doing now?
Probably I'd be trying to do yet another camp and I'm glad to not be. I
think that that's a torch that should be passed. It's an enriching experience
to run one as it is to participate.
Have fun. Make it happen. It's easier than you think. As they say in the
patterns document: „Resist the sudden urge to slack."
Thus ends Skiff's story.
The Conscience of a Hacker
Volume One, Issue 7, Phile 3 of 10
The following was written shortly after my arrest...
\ A The Conscience of a Hacker A /
\ A The Mentor A/
Written on January 8, 1986
Another one got caught today it's all over the papers. „Teenager
Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", „Hacker Arrested after Bank
Damn kids. They're all alike.
But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever
take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what
made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
I am a hacker, enter my world-
Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the
other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...
Damn underachiever They're all alike.
I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the
fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it.„No, Ms. Smith, I
didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.
I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool.
It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up.
Not because it doesn't like me...
Or feels threatened by me...
Or thinks I'm a smart ass...
Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.
And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the
phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent
out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is
„This is it... this is where I belong..."
I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them,
may never hear from them again... I know you all-
Damn kid. lying up the phone line again. They're all alike...
You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school
when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through
were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or igno-
red by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us will-
ing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.
This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beau-
ty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and
you call us criminals. We explore... andyou call us criminals. We seek after
knowledge... andyou call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without
nationality, without religious bias... andyou call us criminals. You build
atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to
make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging
people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is
that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but
you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.
\ A The Mentor A/
Cooking wi"th Club Mate
Delicious Club Mate drinks
All of these drinks were painstakingly developed (or perfected), proto-
typed and assembled at the famous laboratories of Entropia - Club Mate
Brau art since 2001.
Tschunk — The hacker's cocktail
Comparable to the nice alcoholic national beverage from Brazil - the
Caipirinha -- the hacker brews his own cocktail -- by adding Club Mate.
Limes, cut in little regular hexahedrons
White rum (or some other useful alcoholic liquid)
The limes are crushed together with the sugar in a tall glass using a pastle.
Crushed ice is added.
Pitu or some other useful alcoholic liquid is added, for example Rum
Now pour the Mate
Don't forget the straw!
Fertig. The ice refreshes, the Mate keeps you awake and the alcohol adds
The „Matler" is a drink that was developed in our laboratories, in the
aftermath of the GPN5 - fifth Gulaschprogrammiernacht. Rumour has it
that comparable mixtures were conceived at other locations, and that they
bear the name „Beamer" there.
Ingredients and nixing ratio!
• 1 bottle of Club Mate (0,5 1)
• 1 small bottle of Rothaus Tannenzapfle, a famous local beer (0,33 1)
Humans first pour the beer part in a big Weizenglas (that means about
0,198795180722892 1 beer in a 0,5 1 buffer) and then carefully add the Mate
(Be careful! Buffer overflow is imminent!). Best served cold.
Dear children: Sounds icky - but it isn't.
Known bugs I
The mixing ratio could be more flexible.
If it produces to much foam, pour slower!
Uar iants I
The typical bavarian „Stoiber-Matler" is mixed with the„Hackerbrau"
instead of „Rothaus".
The „42" is a cocktail developed at the bar of Entropia.
• Club Mate
• 2 cl or less 43 (a sweet Spanish liquor)
• Crushed ice
Pour the 43 over a handful I of crushed ice, add Club Mate.
The Fnord Korea
We mix 3 parts of Club Mate with one part red wine and therefore get a
„Fnord Korea". It is not to be confused with a„Seoul Mate" (white wine.)
Etyno logy I
• The mixture of Coca Cola and wine is tradionally named „Korea" in the
southern German area
/appendices/CookingN with\ ClubX Mate
See also '.
• Seoul Mate.
The Seoul Hate
The„Seoul Mate" is a mix drink made from white wine and Club Mate. It
is way more popular than the „Fnord Korea". You are advised not to use a
too dry white wine and to mix 1-to-1. If in doubt use more wine than Club
See also '.
• Fnord Korea.
Depending on texture and taste, fill 1/3 to 1/2 of a glass with apple juice.
Infuse the rest with cool and golden Club Mate. Then you have a„Mapfel-
saft". A little bit of ice makes the drink perfect.
The Turbo Hate
The „Turbo Mate" (also known as „Power Mate") a refreshing drink that is
manufactured using champagne and Club Mate. Our research shows that
it is served mainly in close proximity to the ALDI equator (for our foreign
readers: Germany is divided into two parts: ALDI north and ALDI south.
ALDI is a huge grocery discount market.) Traditionally it is mixed by gut
feeling and according to the needs of the user. Best served with love.
The„Mazo" (pronounced „maso") is mixed from 3 parts of Club Mate and
one part Ouzo. Traditionally it is served without ice. (Also, tradionally there
is no ice in your hacker space.)
Celebrities on Club Mate
Infamous quotes by famous celebs on Club Mate, as collected
throughout the past years at the Metalab
„The Metalab is a place for turning Club Mate into ideas."
Paul Erdos on Metalab
„Mate is an adornment for the fortunate, a solace for the unfortunate."
Demokrit on Club Mate
„l have nothing to declare but my genius, and these four crates of Club
Oscar Wilde on his immigration to the US
„A man can't be too careful in the choice of his drink."
Oscar Wilde on Club Mate
„Club Mate is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds."
Oscar Wilde on Club Mate
„Club Mate is one thing you can't get for nothing."
Oscar Wilde on the horrifying Club Mate prices
„l can resist everything except Club Mate."
Oscar Wilde on temptation
„When I was young I thought that clubmate was the most important thing
in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
Oscar Wilde on Club Mate
„lt was said that the atlantians used it to manipulate the future."
Robert Anton Wilson on Club Mate
„AH your Club Mate are belong to us!!!"
Cats on Club Mate
„Reality is a state that arises from a lack of Mate."
Angelo on Club Mate
Xlubmate is in reality based on something I had invented a few years
Arthur C Clarke on Club Mate
"Mate delivery for I. C Wiener!"
Fry on shitty jobs
^Something from out of town."
Mark Twain on Club Mate
„l have taken all Club Mate to be my province."
Francis Bacon on Club Mate
„One Drink to rule them all. One Drink to find them, One Drink to bring
them all and in the darkness bind them."
hidden inscription on the first Club Mate bottle lable on side-effects
„Bruce Schneier can determine the location and the momentum of a
bottle of Mate at the same time."
Werner Heisenberg on Bruce Schneier
„When Bruce Schneier sweats, that's how club mate sirup is created."
Papa Loscher on a dangerous essence
„The last real terrorist menace originated from a bottle of club mate in the
hands of Bruce Schneier. This is today known as the cold war."
Nikolai Gorbatschow on menaces
„ln Soviet Russia, Mate clubs you!!!"
Soviet Russia on Club Mate
„ln actuality, there is only the Mate and the Void."
Demokrit on the indivisibility of atoms
Sea Plus Plus
C4: towo (all pictures)
Chaos Mainz: Stephan Mann, Michael Frey
Datengarten: Dirk-Luder Deelkar Kreie (all pictures)
Entropia: code.monk (GPN6)
CC Itzehoe: Nils Jensen (all pictures)
Das Labor: all pictures are public domain made by Das Labor folks
Metalab: atroxatrox (META), Flo 1up Hufsky (MetaCorp), mattdork (work
mode), heidarewitsch (mind reading), Eddie Codel (MetaSchild), zota
RealRaum: all pictures are public domain made by the RealRaum people
/tmp/lab: Philippe Langlois
Verdebinario: Francesco De Francesco, Emiliano Russo
HamLab: Isaac Hacksimov
Mama: anon (all pictures)
The Hacktory: Far McKon (left), Leslie Birch (person soldering), Branimir
Hacker Consortium: LadyMerlin, SkyDog
Makers Local 256: Strages (all pictures)
HacDC: phrontist, Andrew Righter, Alii Rense
HacklabTO: Leigh Honeywell (all pictures)
VHS: Joe Bowser (all pictures)
Pumping Station: One - Kamil J. Krawczyk
LOpht: Joe Grand (1st and 4th picture), John Soares (2nd picture)
A short history of the CCC: Tim Pritlove (Wau Holland in a phone booth
with an acoustic coupler), Wikipedia, Max Braun (Blinkenlights CCC)
Bl in ken lights: Sam Javanrouh (Stereoscope Toronto)
Thanks to everyone for the images, your contribution to the book, and being awesome in general!
In case you feel we missed your name on this page y we'd like to apologize - please get back to us so we can have your name printed in the next edition.