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 engineering. 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 and you 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 donating 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.
Building Hacker Spaces – talk from The Fifth Hope
Building a Hacker Space – talk from Hope Number Six
Building Hacker Spaces Everywhere – Your Excuses are Invalid – talk from The Last Hope