[Noisebridge-discuss] Associate sponsorship

Danny O'Brien danny at spesh.com
Mon Dec 30 03:46:03 UTC 2013

On Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 5:55 PM, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Torrie! I think I saw you in the space today, were you wearing the
> Dresden Codak hoodie?
> It's good to have you. And thanks for giving folks a tour of the space. I'd
> like to pick your brain about how we can improve usability at Noisebridge
> for new people (what are common questions new people had, etc) and signage
> we can add. It's hard to look at the space with fresh eyes.
> Do-acracy is a pretty good general principle, you want to form a space that
> encourages people to take initiative. I'd warn highly against using
> consensus as the decision-making process. It's sort of the Noisebridge
> electoral college, and not something I'd like to see other spaces mimic.
> Giving each member a unilateral veto works well enough when a group is
> small, but it doesn't scale and discourages adding new members to a space.
> Currently I believe Noisebridge has around 30 or so active members, which is
> smaller than it had in its first year. A lot of people got burned out.

Hey Torrie,

I should point out that this point isn't *quite* as settled as Al
states! Al and others are currently advocating for a big change in how
Noisebridge works by replacing consensus with a more board-led model:
we'll see how that pans out.

A overt preference for Consensus is unusual for hackerspaces though --
its historical adoption by NB was influenced largely by connections
with groups that use it like Food Not Bombs, as well as the history of
the (different) use of consensus in Internet organizations like the
IETF. I think its advantages and problems were more widely played out
on a wider stage in the Occupy movement, which was after Noisebridge's

I personally think a bigger question -- and one that Noisebridge has
also recently been wrestling with -- is deciding whether to be an
overtly public space, or a private (members-only) one. Again,
Noisebridge's challenges and advantages come from a (not entirely
concretely verbalised) decision in its history to be open to everyone,
24/7, with deliberately little differentiation between members and
non-members. Again, we're fiddling with that a bit now, but it's all a
bit of an ongoing experiment.

The idea that somewhere should only have one rule is kind of weird and
unique to Noisebridge; there is a lot of complicated discussion about
it which is fascinating, but I think it's one of the things that is
closest to be a unique "founder's impulse" than anything else in
Noisebridge's constitution.

If you're still in the area, other hackerspaces with various different
structures include Sudo Room (consensus, more process than "one rule"
than NB, open), Ace Monster Toys (paid membership, board-run, closed
with guests/open days/teaching sessions), lolspace (gender-balanced,
POC-led, I *think* consensus, but not sure), Double Union (feminist,
board run, vetted members + open days), Tech Shop (commercial),
Station 40 (not actually a hackerspace, but I like to stick it in
these lists because it's geographically close to Noisebridge and is
actually doctrinaire anarchist, rather than just "i am an apolitical
hacker, you use bitcoin and tor to fight the state, he/she/ze is a
weirdo anarchist" which is pretty much the Noisebridge credo).

I think it's good to have a wide diversity of approaches, but GOODNESS
YES documentation trumps it all.


> You don't want to prematurely optimize, but don't be afraid to actually have
> rules beyond "be excellent" (which is more of a platitude than anything).
> Having stated rules sets expectations and prevents a lot of small problems
> from becoming big ones.
> Hope to see you around the space!
> -Al
> On Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM, Torrie Fischer <tdfischer at hackerbots.net>
> wrote:
>> Hi, Noisebridge.
>> I was prodded to try my hand at joining noisebridge. Here's some details
>> about
>> who I am:
>> I've visited a total of three times in my life:
>> * 4 years ago during Camp KDE, where I was visiting for the lightning
>> talks
>> and had heard about hackerspaces but never visited one before
>> * Last Friday, where I hung out with some of the folks while we watched
>> 30c3
>> on the screen
>> * Today, where some newbies came in, there didn't seem to be any members
>> willing to gave a tour, so I showed them around. They seemed satisfied.
>> I'm not from anywhere near the SF area. I'm actually from Akron, Ohio,
>> where I
>> help out with the hackerspace we've been growing out there: SYNHAK. I try
>> my
>> best to encourage adaptation of lot of Noisebridge's essential elements
>> there,
>> such as do-ocracy, consensus, and excellence. Noisebridge has been a huge
>> inspiration and role model for my goals of SYNHAK since the founding of it
>> 2.5
>> years ago.
>> My next big projects are starting a coalition of northeast Ohio/northwest
>> Pennsylvania hackerspaces, along with helping the folks start up uFabLab
>> in
>> Geauga, OH and CanHax in Canton, OH. Sometimes I'm known to say
>> encouraging
>> things to the people working on Maker's Alliance in Cleveland.
>> I like to build robots, 3d printers, hackerspaces, infrastructure, and
>> sustainable communities.
>> If I was in the bay area for longer than a week, I'd contribute a lot more
>> to
>> Noisebridge. I do plan on visiting for a month sometime in 2014, provided
>> that
>> I can find some cheap temporary housing.
>> Here is a wiki page: https://noisebridge.net/wiki/User:Tdfischer
>> Thank you for your consideration.
>> In excellence,
>> Torrie Fischer
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