[Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at Noisebridge.

Frantisek Apfelbeck algoldor at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 11 14:49:51 UTC 2011

Hmm there are several good points in this post.

One of the major advantages of Noisebridge to me is the broad spectrum of people 
who you can meet and activities which you can do once you are in. This enormous 
"infrastructural" and "brain" capacity on one spot is amazing and very unique. 
Not all of the people who I really value in the community are classical hackers 
and I would certainly miss them. On the other hand till now it was mostly the 
hackers who created and run the place so they certainly should have they say.

It seems to me that making the access to Noisebridge a bit more difficult to 
anyone from the street is wise. Keys worked well I believe before, some access 
code shared somewhere online should help and we had most of the time doors open 
for a bigger events when lots of new people where expected. If you could in 
addition go for noisebridge wiki and do some puzzle in order to get code to get 
in  (or send email to someone to get you the password or more info), it should 
not be a problem. Who really wants to get in Noisebridge will anyway, so some 
barriers to physically enter the place should be not a major issue and I would 
prefer that compared locking things later on within the space, I think the later 

Well best of luck with solutions, please try to be friendly to the not strictly 
hackers and please do not forget that you can hack nearly anything, bio hacking 
being one of the quite popular examples now (but it is not "traditionally" 
considered computing/electronic hacking).



From: Gian Pablo Villamil <gian.pablo at gmail.com>
To: Ryan Rawson <ryanobjc at gmail.com>
Cc: noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
Sent: Mon, July 11, 2011 3:49:45 AM
Subject: Re: [Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at Noisebridge.

Yes, this is a very good point. Noisebridge is supposed to be a hackerspace. 
However, a lot of the stuff at NB is attractive to a much larger population than 
just hackers - free WiFi, space, kitchen, etc.

If we are radically inclusive and let in everyone who finds the space useful - 
even if they otherwise don't cause problems - then NB quickly ceases to be a 
hackerspace, as the hackers are outnumbered by other people.

For example, I like the Free School people, they haven't caused any problems, 
but let's face it, they are not interested at all in coding/electronics/game 
design/etc. They have found NB a convenient place to camp since it has a lot of 
useful infrastructure - but they are not quite hackers. (You can get into all 
kinds of semantic discussions about how they are "hacking" education)

Having a critical mass of mostly hackers is key to the kind of interactions and 
community I am looking for. A policy of radical inclusion will lead to the loss 
of this critical mass, since there is a much larger community of non-hackers 
that finds the infrastructure at NB useful, and soon they will crowd out the 
hackers. This is not theoretical - I see this happening already.

We discussed the problem with sleepers earlier, and how having too many people 
sleeping at the space poisons the atmosphere for people who are trying to do 
crazy stuff/projects/work. The same thing happens when you have a lot of people 
in the space who are mostly non-hackers: mostly they keep to themselves, or 
sometimes ask basic questions. At best they start to become interested in what's 
going on. What rarely happens is that they are the kind of people with whom you 
can have an exciting synergistic conversation.

That's a best case scenario: that NB fills up with nice, well-meaning people who 
find the space useful, but are not hackers. The space slowly becomes less 
appealing/interesting to those willing to pay dues, and it slowly founders - or 
turns into something else.

The worst case scenario is that NB in effect becomes a soup kitchen/homeless 
shelter. (If you've volunteered at one of the latter, you will know that crazy 
people/fights/theft/threatening environment is often part of the package).  The 
space VERY QUICKLY becomes unappealing to people who are willing to pay dues, 
and collapses, probably shortly after the 5th time police are called. (At some 
point the local low-lifes will figure out that they can take the power tools in 
the shop to the pawnshop on the next block, which will kind of suck.)

I think some kind of filter that is hacker-friendly would be a good idea. There 
needs to be some barrier to entry to NB, if not financial at least intellectual. 
If anybody CAN come in without any effort, then anybody WILL come in.

On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 5:22 PM, Ryan Rawson <ryanobjc at gmail.com> wrote:

I really like this solution, since I don't think we want noisebridge
>turning in to a crack den, or theft prone area, making the oh-so
>praised "non-NT" nerds afraid and driving them out.
>So, is noisebridge a hackspace, or a soup kitchen? It can't be both,
>since the hackers will flee after their laptops and cell phones are
>stolen for the Nth time.
>On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 5:20 PM, Jonathan Lassoff <jof at thejof.com> wrote:
>> On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 4:22 PM, Casey Callendrello <c1 at caseyc.net> wrote:
>>> As word of Noisebridge spreads ever-wider, it becomes more difficult to
>>> balance the ideal of radical inclusion with the fact that not everyone
>>> understands and respects our community.
>>> To bring this to real-life, the collective action has equated "radical
>>> inclusion" with "we open the gate for everyone who buzzes in."
>>> Noisebridge, which has lots of desirable targets for theft, relies on a
>>> security system consisting almost solely of human scrutiny of everyone
>>> who uses the gate buzzer. This is a security system that does not scale.
>>> I've been in the place on a Wednesday evening, and it seemed that the
>>> buzzer rang 20 times an hour. Compounding the problem:
>>>     * many welcomed and accepted people rely on the buzzer as their
>>> only means of access
>>>     * Therefore, 99% of buzzer ringers are "false positives" - people
>>> who require absolutely no scrutiny
>>>     * Not everyone is comfortable with confronting possible Bad People
>>> What if buzzing-in is strongly discouraged or even disallowed?  We'd
>>> need a way for welcomed people to demonstrate that they are a part of
>>> the Noisebridge Community. There are some technical solutions to this
>>> problem (more suggestions welcome!):
>>> * Disable or delay buzzer from 10p - 10a
>>>     * Make buzzer sound 1-5 min after button is pressed.
>>> * Weekly rotating access code; install number pad on the gate
>>>     ** code can be distributed widely; email bot sends to mailing list,
>>> visitors may subscribe at will
>>> * VOIP dial-in number, maybe require the same code to be entered
>>> * must buzz correct morse code sequence
>>> * gate has SMS shortcode, text to open using Twilio
>>> In short, if we make it trivially easy to participate in the community
>>> and disable the buzzer, that may take much of the load off of the human
>>> scaling system.
>> I really love the idea that if you're technically skilled and want to
>> sort of "hack your way" in, by all means you should find a way in.
>> I'm guessing most of the people that have come in and caused a
>> nuisance have no idea what SSH or scripts are. I feel like by making
>> documented, but technical, instructions on how to get in -- we could
>> make a fun puzzle to welcome visiting (computer-inclined) hackers. It
>> could also act as a bit of an initial filter to select for the "hacker
>> mentality".
>> </two cents>
>> --j
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