[Noisebridge-discuss] Noisebridge as "facility"

Naomi Most pnaomi at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 08:24:18 UTC 2014

I spent all day at Noisebridge today (Saturday).


Should NB be considered a technological "facility" to be available to
the wider community, or should we consider NB a place where everyone
should be expected to learn and participate in technology?

(For context, read the rest!)

First off, today was largely extremely cool.   I came for the
electrical cleanup but ended up hanging out all day, working on a
hard/software project and (very unexpectedly) learning how to make

Today was not, however, without its drama.  I am not going to name
names here because who-did-what is really not the point.

The drama was largely brought on by a mistake made in rewiring the
kitchen breaker box.  The mistake was unnoticed until much later in
the evening.

At that point, certain people immediately leapt to a conclusion that
certain other people were "sabotaging" the kitchen.  The fact that
were was tape over the end of the copper main that should have powered
the stove and fridge was taken as "evidence" that this was a
deliberate act.

What followed was a good 4 man-hours of time wasted in an argument
over the fact that another member of the space was trying to fix the
problem, that the problem was, probabilistically speaking, not
deliberate, and that someone's attempt to fix it wasn't realistically
going to affect in any way our plan to get a C-10 electrician in here.

(By the way: we do have C-10 electricians coming in to inspect and
give an estimate for the purposes of inspection-passing.)

You know... in almost any other area of Noisebridge, a broken circuit
would probably be met with groans at best.  But in the kitchen, it
seems like a matter of life or death.

This is not news, but --

Many people see Noisebridge as a Facility more than, or even to the
exclusion of, being a place where they make things happen.

One person tonight complained that someone else wouldn't fix one of
the computers when they asked. It turned out that the computer in
question had lost its ethernet plug.  The complainer hadn't even
attempted to figure out the problem.

I get the sense that some people feel they are making an implicit
barter agreement with their time when they clean up, or make food, or
whatever, in exchange for the ability to use the computers at
Noisebridge.  There's a growing sense of entitlement backed only by
this imagined economic relationship; when this "relationship" is
betrayed by reality, the drama falls out.

So, what do you guys think?

Should we make people who don't make an effort to understand the
technology we are making available feel unwelcome, to avoid this kind
of drama?

Or should we embrace the idea of being a community facility, and
honestly seek to keep available the "services" (such as public
internet terminals) that some people have come to rely on?

I'm not sure there's any middle ground here, but (as a fan of middle
ground) I'd be interested to hear other opinions.

One advantage to embracing the "public facility" notion is that there
is grant money for this kind of thing. The disadvantage is, ugh,
grants.  :p


Naomi Theora Most
naomi at nthmost.com

skype: nthmost


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