[Noisebridge-discuss] notice of intent to ragequit

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Fri Feb 7 00:40:33 UTC 2014

Almost all of it is automated at this point. I need to find out
exactly what details our accountant needs and deduce that as much as I
can from our existing records, which will be a bit scary. By far the
hardest of Kelly's job was doing this, and I have not maintained her
system (but hopefully maintained all the records I need to create an
easier automated system).

There's a bunch of non-job related maintenance that I don't do any
more -- wiki-gardening, making sure pony's secretaribot scripts run
regularly, and perhaps less obviously herding things to consensus and
trying to gently encourage people to be less dickish while
simultaneously not having people coming after me with axes.

My honest feeling -- and I hope people reading this will understand
that this is a generalisation that may not include them -- is that
there was very little that Noisebridge did, and very few people who
spent their time at Noisebridge, who I want to spend time with.  I
love art and artists, but I don't really see myself as one, and I know
better places to hang out with them. I like helping people with their
problems, but not when they constantly demand that the problems are
with other people, not partly in their own behaviour, in the face of
many others. I don't know how to deal with entitlement. I like rules,
but people who wield rules without the awareness of their own
incentives are frustrating to deal with. I find trolls funny and a
release, but the endless stream of negativity without an understanding
that their are real people at the end of email, twitter and even
in-the-space conversations, was depressing.

The cultural DNA of Noisebridge since its very beginning, with Jake
and Rubin and dozens of others, is one of joyful blunt confrontation,
"we game and troll", and i see how it has worn down others, and worn
down even its greatest fans. It is not a driving cultural force, but a
clumsy self-medication of anger management, and in the face of
creating a better society, it just seems childish to me.

I know that this is something where people will roll their eyes and
say it's just Noisebridge: but it's not just Noisebridge. The people
who were the fiercest critics of Noisebridge seem to face the same
problems. As I've said before, when Noisebridge was at its most
lovely, I still watched people talk on twitter about it being a
cesspoo -- people who did nothing to help, and who we often helped.
While quiet people worked hard to make their spaces a success, their
loudest members would rail about other hackerspaces and target us for
abuse. I got bored of people lecturing us about how PC we were, or
insufficiently tolerant, or how we'd let political activists destroy
our hacking ability, or how our hackers weren't open-minded enough,
and then watch those people exhibit horrible behaviours in the space
and in their own spaces too. People who'd sneer at the assistance we
give the homeless, and then get on their high horse when we threw out
one of their friends for behaviour that would get you thrown out
anyone's home. People would be shocked when we threw people out, and
do nothing when predators run or monopolised their own communities.

I am cogniscent that some of this is due to some bad ideas in how
Noisebridge is managed, and I understand the portrayal of it now as an
experiment went wrong. I'd just point to how many of the strongest
advocates for some of Noisebridge's ideals have now moved on and
started their own exciting and vibrant successor projects, like
DoubleUnion, and Type A machines, and sudo room, and --- yes, even
places like Ace Monster Toys. Those places struggle with different,
but very similar issues. The best seem to learn from the mistakes of
Noisebridge, but their flaws seem to be in believing that those flaws
can be ceremonially buried with consensus, or 24/7 or having ideals,
or by ignoring your wider community, or hiding in your own economic

I think when and if people want to put a chapter break on this period
of Noisebridge, they'll strongly tie it with Occupy. In the months of
struggle after Occupy collapsed, the people trying to throw "occupy
people" out of the space seemed to forget that they'd identified and
worked with the movement just months before. Like Occupy, Noisebridge
was asked to solve all the problems, and stepped up to do so. That it
didn't solve all of them, and struggled with the ones that hackers had
never had to think about before, is neither surprising nor something
people should condemn. It's better to have tried and learned, then not
to have hacked at all.

I also think that Noisebridge has a great future ahead of it as a
place that isn't afraid to rebuild or re-imagine itself. There's a
bunch of people now who are stepping up to transform Noisebridge
again. Like Doctor Who regenerating, they'll be very different, but
will inevitably remain at heart the same Noisebridge -- the same mad
people in a little box in the Mission. It's just important to
recognise that trying to fix problems isn't the burden of a
hackerspace, it's the challenge, and it's what makes it exciting. And
if it's not longer exciting, remember to leave quickly, and leave some

Okay, burbling over, thank you everyone!

On Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 12:38 PM, Adrian Chadd <adrian.chadd at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 6 February 2014 10:57, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Thanks for all your help Danny. Nobody really understands what a mountain of
>> work the treasurer and secretary have to do until they are buried under it.
>> :)
>> Do you think splitting up Treasurer duties among different people would help
>> or just create a lot of overhead? Like, a separate person for filing taxes,
>> tracking membership dues, tracking donations, compiling weekly Treasurer
>> reports, paying rent & utilities, compensating expenses. etc.
> Automate, don't delegate. The communication overhead between all of
> the above would (correctly) force you to document things in a good way
> and track things correctly, but there's a lot of overhead in doing
> this. It certainly makes transitioning to new treasurers easier.
> -a
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