Hackerspaces have become a worldwide phenomenon of community-operated physical places for people to meet and work on their projects. The phenomenon is spreading rapidly and people from many different communities and backgrounds are participating.
The purpose of a hackerspace has become broader as time has elapsed. Hackerspaces have evolved to not only provide a workspace but also provide a place for hackers to create social connections. Having a common space helps these people work on their projects, and gives them access to resources they would not usually have. The sharing of tools and space builds a relationship between these people and creates an open environment for new ideas to flow freely. Events hosted at the hackerspace provide opportunities for the members to create social connections.
The events also serve to entice more people to become part of their hackerspace community. Apart from work and social events, they also host different kinds of workshops to teach basic skills to people who are interested in hacking and want to get started on their projects. This gives newcomers an easy transition to a hackerspace community.
There are currently 29 hackerspaces in the USA and 27 more are in the process of starting up (Hackerspaces.org, 2009). A list of active hackerspaces can be found at hackerspaces.org. This website gives the name of the hackerspace, country of location and relevant contact information of all the hackerspaces on the website.
For example, some of the modern hackerspaces active today are: NYC Resistor in NY, Noisebridge in San Francisco, CA, Metalab in Vienna, Italy, Pumping Station in Chicago, IL. With their workshops, events, and project demonstrations, these hackerspaces have successfully built a community.
These hackerspaces have enough members to pay their rent and bills. NYC Resistor is one of the most popular and has attracted a wide variety of people. They are involved in many projects. NYC Resistor has a section called “Friends of NYCR” where people can give them money to help them run free events for the community and maintain such a large hackerspace (NYC Resistor, 2008). Members of NYC Resistor meet regularly to share knowledge with the community at their space in downtown Brooklyn.
NYCR and the other organizations listed above are examples of hackerspaces and strive to spread the concept to other people and communities. These hackerspaces are well established and have little fear of collapsing. They also act as an example and encouragement for others to open hackerspaces.
Overtime the concept of hackerspaces has expanded to grow alongside web based communities. While these ‘online hackerspaces’ don’t provide a physical place to complete projects; they provide enough information through tutorials to complete them. The mainly online ‘maker’ community present their projects in several ways offline as well: magazines, websites, and television. All of these methods of presenting projects have proven effective in spreading the hacker philosophy.