[Noisebridge-discuss] why would hackers come to noisebridge?

Torrie Fischer tdfischer at hackerbots.net
Thu Mar 13 17:01:41 UTC 2014


On Thursday, March 13, 2014 09:06:26 Ronald Cotoni wrote:
> TBQH part of a hacker space is trying new things.  All of the hackerspaces
> on the planet have different sets of issues and deal with them differently.
>  An approach in one place may not work very well elsewhere.  So I submit to
> you this is a different form of hacking.  Policy hacking.  Trying different
> methods until we find the one that fits for us.  I am not sure what is
> happening with Consensus but it would be nice if we had a board that got us
> things. By things, I mean making sure the bathrooms were clean either by
> doocracy or by paying someone to do it.  Making sure the sprinkler system
> works.  Making sure we have fire extinguishers.   Making sure people are
> respecting the space.  Usually this could be done by doocracy but with
> people like you leaving Mark, that is a pipe dream.   And for noisebridge,
> which is 24/7 (sudroom which is not) there are different issues that you
> don't have to deal with.  You may or may not find yourself in the exact
> same situation with a bigger space.   I would strongly suggest reading over
> the past few years of meeting notes and seeing if you see any similarities
> between sudoroom and noisebridge since sudoroom is mildly based on
> noisebridge.

SYNHAK's approach to this is through the office of Champion. We can have 
anywhere from two to four champions, as per the board.

They are defined in the bylaws as the general managers who also are the sole 
people with the authority to do-ocratically take over other officer's jobs. 
If, for example, the Treasurer drops off the face of the planet, Champions are 
permitted to step up and take over their responsibilities. I had to do that 
back in November, which eventually led to my election to the current position 
as Treasurer.

As general managers, they are responsible for the day to day management of the 
space, which includes keeping the space clean, making sure broken equipment 
gets attended to, handling the equipment checkout policy, calling a plumber if 
the toilets get clogged, making sure trash gets taken out, dealing with the 
landlord, singing the contract with our ISP, etc. The idea for Champion was 
taken almost directly from HeatSync Labs in Phoenix, AZ. So far, the office 
has been incredibly effective at doing stuff like that.

They are, however, limited to just that. They can't unilaterally decide what 
is consensus, they can't sign a new contract, can't spend money without the 
Treasurer's approval and so forth. They also aren't given any authority to 
resolve interpersonal conflicts or to act as an official representative of the 
space. Unless consensus says so, of course. Our plans for incorporating a 
community working group based on the design of KDE's into our bylaws are aimed 
at fixing these interpersonal conflicts and limiting [drama].

If it is a concern at Noisebridge that things aren't getting done and that 
maintenance of the physical space and its amenities is falling behind, perhaps 
this pattern is something to consider.

On a note, SYNHAK's founding was inspired directly by a visit I made to 
Noisebridge back in 2011. We've based a lot of our bylaws, protocols and 
general culture off of it. I've worked in open source all my life, so I feel 
that we're different in the sense that all of our infrastructure including 
bylaws, documents, synhak.org setup, etc is open source by default: 
https://github.com/synhak/

> 
> On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:53 AM, Torrie Fischer 
<tdfischer at hackerbots.net>wrote:
> > On Thursday, March 13, 2014 07:19:04 Marc Juul wrote:
> > > On Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 3:07 PM, Jake <jake at spaz.org> wrote:
> > > > well, you're doing more to fix the infrastructure than I have lately,
> > 
> > but
> > 
> > > > that is not the kind of problems i'm talking about.
> > > > 
> > > > my complaint is that the culture of noisebridge has become so
> > > > uninteresting
> > > > and unrelated to hacking that it is bordering on irrelavent. The fact
> > 
> > that
> > 
> > > > you are volunteering your time to maintain the internet at a homeless
> > > > shelter is quaint, but it doesn't change the fact that most hackers
> > 
> > don't
> > 
> > > > want to go there anymore.
> > > > 
> > > > there are two categories of reasons why a hacker would want to go to
> > > > noisebridge:
> > > > 
> > > > 1> other hackers are there, and people they can relate to and share
> > > > interesting conversation with, or just be around while working on
> > 
> > projects
> > 
> > > > of their own.  People are there experimenting on things, hardware
> > 
> > software
> > 
> > > > and other, and one might learn something or teach something or make
> > > > new
> > > > friends with similar interests.
> > > > 
> > > > 2> there is a "safe space" with technical infrastructure.  This means
> > 
> > that
> > 
> > > > people who refuse to be HIGHLY accountable for problematic behavior
> > > > are
> > > > simply not permitted to be present (a much higher standard than we
> > > > have
> > > > now).  Oh and lets not forget at least one usable bathroom with a
> > 
> > decent
> > 
> > > > toilet seat and toilet paper.
> > > > 
> > > > This also means that the technical infrastructure is in place and
> > 
> > usable.
> > 
> > > > For software people this means the internet works and there are
> > 
> > outlets,
> > 
> > > > clean places to sit (with decent posture, not fall-in couches) and
> > 
> > tables
> > 
> > > > for laptops and room to work with others.
> > > > 
> > > > For hardware this means that tools are more than just the bottom of
> > > > the
> > > > barrel (try finding a pair of scissors or a phillips screwdriver) and
> > 
> > that
> > 
> > > > there are actually nice things (a soldering iron with a temperature
> > > > control
> > > > instead of $2 china disposable irons), AND more advanced tools are
> > > > available such as microcontroller programmers, blank microcontrollers,
> > > > and other electronic hardware for raw material.
> > > > 
> > > > Noisebridge used to have a great collection of microcontrollers and
> > > > programmers and breadboards and jumper wires and advanced electronic
> > > > tools,
> > > > but all of that stuff was REPEATEDLY taken down from the top shelf and
> > > > scattered into the e-waste piles, and then thrown away.  Yes, our
> > > > microcontroller and programmer collection has made its way to the
> > 
> > trash.
> > 
> > > > categories 1 and 2 are related;  if a hackerspace has one without the
> > > > other, hackers still may not decide to go.  Certainly I think both are
> > > > equally important.  I also feel that at this time, and for too long,
> > > > noisebridge has not had either.
> > > > 
> > > > P.S. please notice that ONE OF THE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP IS TO GO
> > 
> > TO
> > 
> > > > NOISEBRIDGE MORE OFTEN.
> > > 
> > > Since reading the policy that visitors to noisebridge are required to
> > > have a member vouch for them at all times, I no longer feel welcome at
> > > noisebridge. I know that several others feel the same way.
> > > 
> > > I remember Jake's original suggestion related to this. The idea was
> > > that anyone asking a visitor to leave would first have to ask if any
> > > member is willing to vouch for the visitor to stay, and only if no-one
> > > vouches can the non-member be asked to leave. That is reasonable.
> > > Putting the responsibility on the visitor of having a member pre-vouch
> > > for them at all times is both unwelcoming and unreasonable.
> > > 
> > > Now, I'm seeing one of the board members implying that the board will
> > > no longer be passive, which I take it to mean that noisebridge is no
> > > longer ruled by consensus.
> > 
> > I'm just an associate member of noisebridge on the other side of the US
> > with
> > no real influence, or even a desire to get involved, so here is my $0.02
> > based
> > on my previous position of being an officer of SYNHAK, and our
> > terrifyingly
> > heavy-handed and pre-emptive board that was elected a few weeks ago.
> > 
> > I feel that it is possible and somewhat important for the management of a
> > hackerspace to be active while still respecting the wishes of the
> > membership.
> > The board and officers should still be held responsible to the membership
> > by
> > the community. Noisebridge bylaws permit the removal of the board, should
> > it
> > come to that:
> > 
> > https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/bylaws#c._Removal_of_Directors
> > 
> > It is never a good idea for the board to get to such a point that demands
> > for
> > resignation or removal start showing up (see synhak's discuss@ for many
> > tears), so I imagine that the consensus process would still be respected.
> > 
> > SYNHAK is experimenting with a few procedural changes with our governance
> > structure in the next few weeks in an attempt to curb the decision making
> > abilities of the board and officers. First, an amendment to our bylaws
> > that
> > essentially states that the membership runs the space:
> > 
> > "The powers not delegated to the Officers of SYNHAK by these Bylaws, nor
> > prohibited to the members through The Board or these Bylaws are reserved
> > to
> > the Membership."
> > 
> > Sounds a bit 10th amendment-ish, yeah. It has no real effect on the
> > corporation other than to explicitly state that the membership is in
> > charge.
> > The Board still legally retains absolute power and can do things like set
> > a
> > corporate alcohol and drug policy, approve a new lease, strip membership
> > from
> > individuals, pass a bylaw amendment that nulls this, etc. It does,
> > however,
> > give the membership some control over what the management does.
> > 
> > The second component of this is an upcoming modification to our consensus
> > process which is roughly based off of Noisebridge's. It adds three
> > constraints
> > on blocking consensus: One person may block consensus for no longer than 6
> > weeks, an indefinite block can only happen with the support of a total of
> > three members, and the reason for a block must be clearly and explicitly
> > written in the meeting minutes.
> > 
> > Nobody is required to approve of the reason for a block, but this prevents
> > a
> > single person from stopping the entire process without having to put the
> > effort in to convince others why their position is valid. While a proposal
> > is
> > under a block, the community is encouraged to figure out the best way to
> > reach
> > consensus on the issue.
> > 
> > If you're worried about consensus being steamrolled by the board, perhaps
> > those concerns are best addressed by asking the board to explain how they
> > feel
> > Noisebridge's governance process fits in with their plans. Reaching
> > consensus
> > about respecting consensus, if you will.
> > 
> > > It makes me both sad and angry that noisebridge has become a place
> > > where hackers don't feel welcome.
> > > 
> > > If anyone wants to help build a hackerspace similar to what
> > > noisebridge used to be, I invite you all too come join sudo room in
> > > oakland as we prepare to move to a much bigger space (a space very
> > > similar to noisebridge's current space!). We have open meetings every
> > > Wednesday at 7 pm at 22nd and Broadway, located just two blocks from
> > > 19th street BART.
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
> > Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> > Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> > https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
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