Posts Tagged community

Why I am kind-of a Maker

Deb Chachra has a great article ‘Why I am not a Maker’ If you bother to read this site, I suggest you all go read it now, since this post is a continuation of that conversation. It’s a good and fast read, bit a bit scatter-shot. Done? Good!

My first take at adding to the discussion was mostly a list of sections of her article I disagreed with. But that was pretty crappy to read, and a crappy thing to do. Especially given how much of her general idea that I agree with, even if I disagree with the details.

My second take was to outline where I agree and/or disagree, or just don’t know where I stand yet. That was very long and tired and kind of hair-splitty for my taste. Really, just a bunch of overly complicated footnotes to the article.

This here is my third take at contributing to the discussion, and I’m going at it in a totally new (to me) way. I’m going to assume for the rest of this article that Deb is 100% correct, and is a perfect reliable witness. Take that, mix it with my own political/social point of view, and what conclusions would I then draw? I come up with 3 idea:

  1. Maker culture is deep into the late cycle of co-option by market system(s).
  2. Maker culture is American sub-culture, and by trying to be ‘apolitical’ is just generic./li>
  3. Maker culture is has become a self-aggrandizing big-tent Evangelical culture.

Co-Option: Put a ‘Maker’ on it !

The ‘Maker’ culture is being ‘green’ed. By ‘Greened’ I mean, it’s reach the point where it’s meaningless in it’s generality, and is just glued onto crap by people trying to sound like they have a clue. Glued into job posting, events. Stores cough Radio Shack cough using it to sell crap, it’s flavor of the month, like weird eggplants a few years ago, and the ‘Green’ label that is slapped on anything and everything. Thank you marketing and the desire for social/cultural capital for sucking the meaning out of a once useful term!

Politically: Generic American Flavorless.

Look, we live in a country with less female representation in congress (19%) than Saudia Arabia. We are the only ‘1st world industrialized’ country without paid paternal leave. For whatever reason, despite a pretty radical ‘left meets right, had some drinks, and fights, and then makes out behind the bar’ hacker community, ‘Maker’ community is politically and socially just a crappy rusted mirror of general American society. So like the US overall, it’s a great concept that got off to a good enough start that in success, it’s forgotten as it started core, and it’s weirdo’s and screw-ups that created it in the first place.

Evangelical : YOU MUST LOVE JESUSCODE

I love the section on the forced embrace of ‘I make BLAH’ nametags. It reminds me of the you-must-hug-us greeters at a lot of Evangelical churches growing up. It’s imagined as an attempted to be welcoming. It turns into a giant awkward turn-off, and in reality provides more comfort the hugger than the victim. Everyone must Code. Everyone must love Jesus. Democracy Will Work For You, Or We Shoot!

 
 
In reality, I don’t agree with a lot of what Deb said. I think a lot of her specifics are wrong, and that she mashes maker culture into startup culture. But for all the details I disagree on, don’t want to invalidate her overall point, or to undermine her experience, both of which I agree are spot-on. (And her awesome advice-to-younger-self is also spot on).

The Maker movement has shifted away from it’s scrappy rebellion stage, and large sections of it are building Start Destroyers, or just too busy buying TARDIS trinkets at Barnes and Noble to notice as the local mom&pop PC store is bulldozed over.

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Nonprofits and Motives

I’ve thought a lot about community, profits, and making a difference while making a living. This is a hot topic now, and I think it’s great to see America shifting it’s conscience (albeit profit-minded conscience) recently. Green-washing and Community-faking at least means that my fellow americans are realizing the importance of verdant and social behavior, even if they are suckers for ‘now with Social!’ stickers to slap on products.

In my talks about hackishness, and my work on projects I’ve always had a hard time baking up my reasoning for removing money as a factor. Whether it was giving cash discounts to officers at Hive76, or giving gardeners cheaper food at Ant Hill, I’ve felt an inherent frustration with money as a incentive for creativity and community. I don’t feel that way about money as a general incentive, so it’s also been something I’ve not been able to defend or explain well.

It was with great relief and interested that I grabbed Drive by Daniel Pink. I’m still just starting on it, but it seems to be a great set of background on exactly the gut feeling I have about using money as an incentive. The one sentence overview is that Money is only an incentive up to a point, and for some kinds of tasks. For creative and deep though tasks, a bigger drive is accomplishment self-direction, and sense of purpose.

I think that is enough of a cool new idea for right now. I think there is a strong tie to profit vs non-profit enterprises, but I need to think on that idea and flesh it out a bit before I post it.

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The Cost of Community Classes

Part of running a hackerspace is doing classes, events and workshops. Classes generally involved a teacher (and TA) and slides or a presentation. Workshops and Events are different from classes, and aren’t covered here. It’s sometimes hard to set rates and costs for classes, and it’s a tricky thing to make classes easy and affordable, but to make enough to support the space, and give people giving the class satisfaction of doing something worth the scratch.

I’ve heard some advice from different spaces on how to plan classes and costs, and (for me) one of the toughest parts was coming up with a decent cost for classes. My personal guidelines for the ‘don’t-expect-to-make-money’ classes (take it or leave it) is below. I use this for my own classes and events, and find it useful. If you also do classes or events, feel free to give us feedback on how you price yours, either by leaving a comment on the post, or updating the page the Hive76 wiki with your guidelines.
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