…Continued from Interview with Mitch Altman (Part 1)…
Tom Vu: What is the Hackerspace in Residence Program? Why is this important?
Mitch Altman: Let me start by giving some background…
Over the past decade, thousands of designers, engineers, artists, programmers, crafters, scientists, cooks, musicians, tinkerers, and the otherwise curious, have gathered at hackerspaces (sometimes also called makerspaces) to explore and do what they love — often finding subjects and projects they find meaning in pursuing. This happens because of the supportive community, as well as the tools and other resources found at these unique spaces found all over the globe. People work and play individually and collaboratively. People come from varied and diverse backgrounds, with varied and diverse skills. This mix of people, skills, community, and tools creates synergistic magic.
Each hackerspace is unique, each with their own set of focuses. Yet they all share in this magic. Through the sharing of skills, information, and other resources within community, we can design the worlds we want. The steps in getting there are often challenging. In fact, this is why we need these collaborative spaces, where people of different backgrounds and diverse skills cooperate and help each other.
Researchers are now starting to study the hackerspace movement, asking what these spaces look like, in what ways their practices changes across these sites, what values connect them, in what ways they differ from each other, and how they connect with and influence and help the wider world.
Along these lines, somewhat related programs such as after-school and out-of-school programs, as well as home schooling and unschooling, have been growing steadily in recent years. Students and instructors are still searching for high-interest content combined with hands-on creating that keys into areas of interest without the rigidity and sterility of most current classroom structures. In essence, it’s really about creating and playing and trying things. It is about hands-on, experiential, play-based science, art and learning. We can break things. We can take things apart. We can fool around. We can put things together again in our own ways. This is useful regardless of the topics of interest. This facilitates tinkering and making things, but also helps in learning science, math, and other more conceptual or abstract fields of study.
Hackers In Residence Program Kickoff event at Tsinghua University | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
We are approaching 2,000 hackerspaces on the planet, and growing fast. Again: each space is unique, each perfect for the people who started it and the people who keep it going. Yet, each space is part of the international hackerspace movement. And, to varying degrees, hackerspaces all help each other.
To facilitate this process of growth and mutual benefit amongst hackerspaces — helping each other and the world — I am putting a lot of energy into the Hackers in Residence Program. For a long time now there have been Artist in Residence programs to support individuals in their art. Artists benefit greatly from this. And since the visiting artists have shared their skills, their knowledge, and their enthusiasms and passions for their art, the hosting communities benefit as well. People in a hosting community can pick up on these priceless gifts and cruise with them in their own ways. The artists also take their experiences and what they learn with them when they leave, further sharing wherever they go.
This Hackers in Residence Program is similar to an artist in residence program, only broader in scope. Not only art, in its many and varied forms, but anything can be shared and supported when someone is a hacker in residence. Not only the visiting hacker and the hosting community benefit, but all hosting organizations (hackerspaces, libraries, museums, art organizations, corporations) — and the world — benefits, since the hacker moves on from their visit, taking their new experiences and/or projects along with them to share, cross-pollinating wherever they go. And the joy spreads.
I have been both an artist in residence and a hacker in residence. These were fantastic experiences for me! They helped me create new projects. I was able to teach people what I love. I shared my enthusiasm. And I was able to take what I learned from the unique spaces and communities that hosted me, and I’ve shared these experiences with other spaces wherever I travel.
Teaching people what I do — at home, and as I travel around the world — my intent is to encourage people to explore and do what they love. On the surface, I teach people the simple skill of soldering, with which anyone, any age, any skill level, can make cool things with electronics. I also teach electronics and microcontrollers (using AVR microcontrollers, since they are so easy to learn and teach, especially with all the cool free and open source tools available for all operating systems — and with the zillions of projects available online). I give talks on many subjects, with the intent of helping and inspiring others to explore and do what they may find meaning in doing.
Many organizations — such as hackerspaces, libraries, museums, art organizations, corporations — can offer people residency opportunities where they can share their skills, work on their projects, explore their subject, learn from others, with mutual benefits and contributions in so many ways.
Early next year we will launch the HackerInResidence.org website, a totally free website where any organization can list themselves, and create pages for Residency opportunities. It will also allow anyone in the world to easily search for Residency opportunities that they can apply for. (We can use another volunteer web-programmer — if you’re interested, please contact me! Mitch AT CornfieldElectronics DOT com)
For example, I have been an advocate in helping solidify Tsinghua University’s Hackers in Residence program. Tsinghua is considered one of the most prestigious universities in China. Their president is wanting education at Tsinghua to be all about learning to live a life each student loves living. Creating a hackerspace at the university is an experiment in education towards this end. By inviting creative hackers from all over the world, including China, to become residents, working on projects, sharing their skills and knowledge and interests and passions, leading events, such as hackathons and exhibitions — by doing these things, and whatever else the resident is moved to do, students will be exposed to a world of diverse creativity, learning in ways people learn at hackerspaces (and, unfortunately, not at most schools), learning in ways that have been proven to work, ways that lead and inspire a lifetime of learning, creativity, and innovation.
Hackers In Residence Program Kickoff event at Tsinghua University | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
I have become involved in helping some of the budding hackerspaces in China such as Beijing Makerspace, Chaihuo Hackerspace in Shenzhen, and Xinchejian Hackerspace in Shanghai. Some interesting projects have grown out of these hackerspaces that make people a living — and, as with all projects created out of the shear love of doing it, these projects are good for the others in the local community, in this case, local Chinese culture.
Chaihuo Hackerspace in Shenzhen, China
What if there were a lot more opportunities for people to take advantage of? This could be really good for the individual hackers, the individual students, people in the outlying community, and perhaps, if there are enough opportunities, for all of China. And if it works in China — and all indications show that it probably will — it can work everywhere, as they have at hackerspaces around the world over the last several years.
But we are just at the beginning now.
Hackerspaces are a global phenomena and changing the very fabric of how we can learn, share, interact, and create. Hackerspaces.org (which I helped form at its inception in 2008) is a good informational and networking nexus site that helps people starting and running hackerspaces around the world. This site allowed the early creation and spread of what is now the hackerspace movement.
Since then, the hackerspace movement has grown exponentially, providing opportunities for lots of people! But, we need more. To benefit the world’s 7 billion people, we need a million unique hackerspaces planet wide. I think that the Hackers in Residence program, with its HackerInResidence.org website, can help a lot.
Kung Fu Hacking at Hackers In Residence Program Kickoff event at Tsinghua University | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
TV: Tell me more about how you started this Hacker in Residence program?
MA: For the past few years I’ve organized an annual Hacker Trip to China, where a bunch of hackers (note to reader, this implies the earlier stated original sentiment of a “hacker”: people who use any available resource to make their projects cooler, and share the results) from around the world to go to China to (amongst other cool things) help transform some portion of education there. After several years, all this organizing is paying off! At the end of last year’s China trip, Tsinghua University officially started a Hackers in Residence Program. The program is still nascent, but there will soon be a constant stream of diverse hackers from around the world staying at Tsinghua to mentor students!
Hackers In Residence Program Kickoff event at Tsinghua University | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
The culmination of our trip last year was the Hackers in Residence Kickoff event at Tsinghua University. The event was mongo! Including a mongo LED display showing a hacked version of the “Kung Fu Fighting” music video. All of our talks were on top of a huge crane. It was lots of fun. And celebratory. And lots of education bigwigs were there. The Hackers in Residence is now an official, for-credit, ongoing program at Tsinghua. We’re expecting this to continue on, and grow, and eventually spread all over China, and hopefully everywhere. It’s pretty exciting.
Maker Carnival | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
We also visited Shanghai for Maker Carnival, my manufacturer in Shanghai, XinCheJian hackerspace in Shanghai, HAXLR8R accelerator program in Shenzhen (where I’m a mentor), Chaihuo hackerspace in Shenzhen, and many other cool events and places. In this first half of the year, I have been busying organizing Hackers In Residence Program abroad. Since my return from last year’s Hacker Trip to China I have been busy furthering the Hackers in Residence Program there, and everywhere. I’ll be leaving with this year’s Hacker Trip to China at the beginning of November, bringing another great group of diverse worldwide hackers who are wanting to share what they can, and learn from all of our experiences, and bring it all back to share at home. Our first stop will be Tsinghua University.
Hackerspaces in China | Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
TV: What does the Hacker In Residence Program provide to the learning participant?
MA: It can be different at different organizations, depending on what the organization has to offer, and what they require of the Resident. At Tsinghua, they want to provide their students a constant stream of diverse hackers from hackerspaces around the world, overlapping with other Residents staying there. As well as providing travel expenses, food, an apartment, access to way awesome tools, and space to work on their own projects, each Resident collaborates with students to come up with their own cool projects that they will show off at the end of the semester. They also make themselves available as mentors for the students. Most importantly, it’s all about the Residents and the students having an amazing experience of a lifetime.
The last point is very important. These hackers in residence can perform peer-to-peer interaction, providing encouragement and inspiration, as well as help with skills and knowledge. They can help guide students’ ideas, help bolster a student’s curiosity and interest, supplemented with pathways drawn from the student’s own hands on experience.
Since Tsinghua University is so well respected in China, the program will probably be spreading to universities and schools all over China. And hopefully, spreading throughout the world.
The Hackers in Residence program is needed. It is needed because education today is too far behind the curve, focusing on standardized tests rather than learning what a given person wants and needs to the life they want to live. It is needed because it will be so cool to have Residency opportunities for people everywhere to take advantage of, and to share of themselves, and help the hosting organizations and communities. Everybody wins.
Hackerspace in Residence Program| Photo Credit: Mitch Altman
The Hackers in Residence program offers people a chance at real, live, actual learning opportunities (at universities, schools, hackerspaces, libraries, corporations, museums, art spaces and all of the places it will exist). The resident will collaborate with students to choose projects they will work on in small groups. In turn, they will also be available as a mentor for students and help assist in local hack-a-thons. Most importantly, it’s all about having an amazing time and doing work in cool projects that can be shared so new opportunities and potential residents in the future can gain from these interactions just as well.
Kung Fu Hacking Tsingchua Style with Hacker in Residence Program
TV: How does this dove tail into something larger? Such as in priming for the next industrial movement or even development of applications around the Wearable Tech, Internet of Things, or 3D Printing? Perhaps reinforcing the Maker Movement?
MA: The way I see it: community is very scarce at the moment in our modern world — and it is very much needed. At the same time, people are often too afraid to be creative. Yet, we need to express our creativity to thrive in our lives. The era of good little workers for factories and massive industry is past — the pendulum is swinging toward a new paradigm of meaningful and sustainable innovation. The old production paradigm does not make for a healthy human spirit; it does not provide a world full of people feeling their lives are way worthwhile. We can help transform workers and vocational and professional training to encourage people to take more vital roles in contributing to fulfillment in their lives — this is what can lead to a well-balanced global ecosystem, fueling innovation, creativity, opportunity, and community. With more people having the opportunity to experience community that supports our creativity, all areas of human endeavor can be enhanced.
TV: Does “hacking” need to be part of DNA for the inception of great Product Ideas?
MA: Need? No. Desirable? Yes.
Many of the products available for purchase today are things we don’t necessarily want or need — they were created primarily to maximize profit. Of course, we need money to buy food, shelter, and many other necessities. We also need some money to buy resources we want so that we can live lives we find way worthwhile. But how much money do we need? The concept of enough is an important one to consider. The howling engines of Marketing manipulate us through our hopes and desires and fears with the goal of maximizing profit — we’re needed to buy things to feed this engine. Sadly, the choice to maximize profit is often chosen over making our lives and our world better. Sadly, some of us choose to maximize profits even when it is known that the consequences are likely to make the world a less safe or less good place… Does it really need to be this way?
Hackerspaces along with its core methodology helps foster things that people really love. Participants become passionate around their creations. This creates a higher chance that these ideas, woven with much imagination and passion, are good for those that create them, as well as for the surrounding community. If you create something you love, chances are that others will love it, too. And when people love what you do, they may even pay you to do it. If it is a product or service that others love, these may actually be helpful and relevant in their lives. If this is the case, then the world is actually becoming a better place. This is the result of more people working and playing with what they love, what they find meaning in doing. That, rather than maximizing profit, can be the primary factor in why we do what we do. The net result is that more people feel they are living lives that are way worthwhile. This is the way I see things.
Let me talk a bit about China again. One of the big economic games there now involves Western corporations manufacture their goods there. For a while now, it has been more profitable to take advantage of the differing economies, despite the costs to ship the products half way around the planet after production. This game is changing, however, for three reasons. First, the Chinese economy is improving, causing labor costs to go up (as they should). Secondly, the exchange rates for Chinese to Western currencies are going in the wrong direction to be advantageous to the West. And thirdly, shipping costs are continuing to go up. Sometime soon, it will be cheaper to manufacture elsewhere in the world. And China needs to adapt so that Chinese people are directing their creativity and innovation towards goods and services that are good for China.
If culture in China can change so that even a significant minority of people explore and do what they love doing, then chances are they are coming up with goods and services that are good for the local community in their part of China. This leads to vibrant local economy that works for their part of China. If enough people make enough money to live lives they want to live, this is good for China. Which means that it is good for one seventh of the world’s population. So this would be good for the world. And I can’t help but add that hackerspaces are great places for people to explore and do what they love — places that can help encourage peoples’ creativity and innovation.
This same process can also work in other parts of the world.
I have friends involved in setting up hackerspaces in Egypt where they help organize communities and witness people there making a living with small projects. The economy is such that not much money is needed to do a lot there. People create, grow, and sustain themselves and others in this way.
Things are somewhat similar in Detroit, which has been economically depressed for quite some time. There are many resources left behind from its heyday as an industrial center, including inexpensive space, and cheap materials, making it a wonderful place for creation. Creative people have been moving to Detroit to take advantage of this. There are a few hackerspaces there where people come together and support each other in making all sorts of way cool projects, some of which make a living for many people.
Let’s create more opportunities for people everywhere to be part of supportive community where people can create.
Regional Hackerspaces provide opportunity to create and help local innovation in the culture
TV: What is hacking? Can we make this a positive orientation for our youth and innovation?
MA: The origin term for “hacking” has been warped by the mainstream media. Historically, the term was coined by the model railroaders at MIT in the early 1950s. They used all sorts of things as resources to make awesome model railroads — it didn’t matter what those resources were originally intended for. They made awesome model railroads. They saw what worked, and what didn’t work so well, and they shared it with each other, and with other model railroaders. This is the ethos of hacking that we still use today at hackerspaces. It is a way of life — do what you love, make it more awesome with whatever resources are available, and share it!
When computers started to become available, the model railroaders at MIT made use of them. Over time hacking become more about computers. But it was never limited to only computers.
In the 1980s, as computers were just beginning to become more of a household item, the mainstream media used the word to describe a small number of people who used their computer skills to do some questionable or outright illegal activities, often doing things merely for profit or power. Let’s not pay too much attention to that definition.
At hackespaces, people are doing things and making stuff because they really love it. The world is full of resources. We can make use of anything in the world as resources for our projects, to make our projects cooler. We can see what works well and what doesn’t work so well, and we can share the results. This is hacking. And anything can be hacked: electronics, art, food, science, craft, ourselves, our communities, society, the planet! Everything can be improved. Hacking in this way makes our lives better. It makes the world better. We can all benefit from the hacking ethos and mindset. People of all ages, youth on up. Innovation is an obvious result.
Hacker in Residence Program Panel hosted by Patrick Schmidt
TV: Hack? Does this personify someone who is learning and growing? Sharing? Building?
MA: Yes! Next question. Really. These are elements of what the hackerspace movement is bringing forth. To be ideal and optimistic, we can potentially expand this hackerspace notion. More and more hackerspaces can potentially usher us into another Renaissance era similar to artist and painters sharing and meeting together back in that age. With my previously stated 1 million hackerspaces spread all over the globe, a huge number of people can simply walk to the closest one, like the parks we have today in some communities. All of us can push toward the positive and come together in our own domain, each playing our part.
If we are wanting to learn, then we will. What transpires in our lives is the result of the choices we make. We make choices, big and small. We have no control over the consequences of our choices. But we can learn from them. And then make new choices. If we choose to, we can make choices on what we believe will make our lives (and those around us) a little bit better, a little bit cooler. Then, it seems to me, there is good chance our lives (and the lives of those around us) will get better over time. And if enough of us are doing this, the world gets better. This is hacking. Hacking ourselves. Worth a try? If you think so, then why wait — make a new cool choice today! And if you’d like some support, visit a hackerspace.
TV: How do people from different walks of life engage with Embedded designs?
MA: Phones and microwave ovens, cars, thermostats — all these devices and more use microcontrollers. They are all embedded devices. I think it is important to have at least some understanding of the devices we use all the time in our day-to-day lives. This is one reason why I teach how to make cool things with microcontrollers. Anyone can learn the basics. It isn’t really hard. I have led workshops teaching people ages 10 on up how to play with microcontrollers. They are simply small computers. They have electronic parts connected to their pins. They run a computer program running that controls those parts to do something cool. That’s all there is to it!
There are people all over the world teaching this stuff. It’s fun.
The more hackerspaces there are, the more people can learn this, and other things they want to learn.
TV: How about people who don’t live near a hackerspace?
MA: Start one! This is the way all hackerspaces happen.
But, there is also the internet. It’s not a substitute for actual community, but it is a great resource. The internet provides us with so much information and choice at our fingertips. The UN now considers access to the internet a basic human right. A while back, more opportunities were available to those who had access to universities. It is the case now that people with internet access have more opportunities than people without. Just about anything you want to learn is available to some extent (probably quite a lot!) on the internet.
And if you can become part of (or create) a supportive community for learning (such as a hackerspace), then it is even more powerful. Anything is possible. The hackerspace movement itself is one result. The huge DIY 3D printer industry is another.
TV: Does this mean that technology is a signature of who we are? Tech adds definition to what we build together?
MA: Technology is an outgrowth of who we are, sure. It can add to who we are. It can also get in the way. It is up to each of us what we choose to do, what technology we create, what technology we make use of, and how we make use of it. These choices, along with the other choices in our lives, define who we are. And since technology is such a powerful force in our lives, the choices we make regarding technology has a very large effect on who we are.
TV: Where would you like to see the hackerspace movement lead?
MA: I would love to see more people living lives they feel are way worthwhile. My definition of success: living a life doing what you love, and in so doing what you love, make enough of what you need to keep doing what you love! What if you lived that life? What if a huge number of people in your neighborhood lived that life? What if a significant number of the 7 billion people on the planet lived that life?
Perhaps hackerspaces can lead towards that ideal. I think it’s worth going for.
TV: Why are AVR chips so pervasively used as the microcontrollers of choice in many hackerspaces?
MA: They are an easy-to-learn microcontroller. They have really good datasheets compared to many others — they are actually readable! Because of this they are easy to teach with. AVR chips are used in the super-popular Arduino platform (and Arduino clones), which make it even easier to learn and to teach microcontrollers. Atmel was very smart to support free and open source development tools for the AVR chips. There is a large online community of people helping and supporting each other. There are hundreds of thousands of projects online, many free and open source, that make use of these chips.
I’m seeing these chips used in numerous crowdfunded embedded projects, including solutions for wearables and connected devices. Because Arduino (with AVR chips) makes microcontrollers so accessible, developing microcontroller projects is open to lots of people who wouldn’t otherwise have made use of them. Even very complex projects are possible, such as 3D Printers. The early ones started by using Arduinos (with AVR microcontrollers).
I’m comfortable using lots of different microcontrollers. But I really like using AVR microcontrollers since they are so easy to learn and to teach with. I lead frequent workshops teaching how anyone can make cool things with embedded microcontrollers. These workshops can range from making a simple kit to learning the ins and outs of how embedded devices work. Certainly, Arduino makes it less intimidating, yet super powerful.
For beginners and the highly advanced, the AVR framework and devices are very accommodating. Atmel has done well in doing their part for the community, promoting free and open source dev tools. There are packages for Windows, Mac OS X, and tools for Linux, all using the C++ compiler, and GNU Compiler tool chains (GCC). (Me and my friend Jeff Keyzer created an easy-to-follow cookbook approach for anyone to follow for installing the AVR toolchain on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.) Again, this was a really good choice on Atmel’s part. Because of this, people in the early days of the Maker Movement adopted Atmel chips over others. Because of this, the Arduino people chose to use Atmel chips. Arduino boards are available all over the place (online, and even at Fry’s and Radio Shack), and there are probably hundreds of people making Arduino clones, with at least a hundred thousand projects available to download for free online. All of this is part of what helped the Maker Movement as we see it today.
AVR chips have been used even in emergency response disasters such as Japan for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Many DIY/Maker radiation Giegier counters were quickly put together. SafeCast is an international hackerspace project that helped people collect data across the region.
TV: How do hackerspaces relate to crowdsource funding?
MA: Hackerspaces make things inexpensive and accessible. When we pool our resources, we can do a lot with very little. At hackerspaces we can create things that people love. But if we want to turn our project into a product, and make a lot of them so that others can benefit from it, we may need some money for manufacturing it, or otherwise put it out into the world.
Until recently, it used to be that people would seek funding from banks or from Venture Capitalists. This is changing now with the advent and success of crowdsource funding. Now anyone with internet access can fund projects via Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and other crowdsource funding sites. And this can be done almost anywhere in the world.
You don’t need to give your project (or fledgling company) away to your funding sources! With crowdsource funding, you enlist the help of lots of people who invest in you and your project because they are truly enthusiastic about it! If it your funding campaign succeeds, you know that you have something that people want, that there is a market for what you have to offer.
Right now, we can see on many crowdsource funding sites, projects for home automation, gardening, water quality, energy production, and many other imaginable and unimaginable things. There are so many things are being explored and most of all, this is just the beginning. People are really exploring now. It is way too early now to see how this plays out. Some ideas and products will eventually become fads. On the other hand, some will likely take off and cause a disruption to how we’re used to doing things.
TV: Another option is to join a hardware accelerator.
MA: Yes. There are a several hardware accelerators starting now, helping to build out not only phone apps, but actual physical hardware products.
There’s Highway 1 here in San Francisco. I am a mentor at HAXLR8R, in Shenzhen, China. These are both places where someone with a cool hardware idea can go from having a proof-of-concept prototype to having a manufactured product, ready to sell, in as quickly as 3 months. It’s kind of amazing. This was unheard of even a few years ago.
At these hardware accelerators, financial support is available, typically about $50,000, in exchange for a few percent of equity in the startup company. The funding is packaged with mentors and training, and connections to contract manufacturers in China, where people can choose to manufacture their product.
I like making myself available as a mentor to those who are making hardware projects that they really love. I am a mentor at Noisebridge (a non-profit Hackerspace in San Francisco that I co-founded) and at HAXLR8R in Shenzhen, China. There are others, too. They all have a bunch of people really focused on creating the projects of their dreams, and turning them into products for others.
For the 3-month program at HAXLR8R, everyone starts out living in Shenzhen, where every day everyone is surrounded by the other groups working on their projects, supporting each other. Experts in their field are there to help, with mentors available to help as needed. There is also access to lots of great fab tools, such as laser cutters, CNC mills, 3D printers, pick & place machines, and other equipment for making high quality prototypes. The program ends with a Demo Day in San Francisco, where people show off their projects to media and potential funders (though many choose to use crowdsource funding only).
There have been several projects that have turned into successful products as a result of these hardware accelerators.
It is now possible for entrepreneurs to do a lot with very little. My TV-B-Gone universal remote control project, for instance (a keychain that turns off TVs in public places), cost only $2,000 in development costs to create the first prototype.
People with cool projects can raise enough money in a crowdsource funding campaign to complete hardware prototypes and do an initial run of manufacturing. Kickstarter has really taken off! Kickstarter has the advantage of being one of the biggest and most popular platform. Since its inception in 2009, the crowdfunding platform has raised more than $1.14 billion for 63,056 successfully funded projects. Pretty amazing.
On average, about 43 percent of campaigns are successful. Some of these get courted by Venture Capitalists, but after their successes, they do not need to give up much of their company. One of the famous popular successes was Pebble. Another is Oculus Rift, which raised $2.4 million in 2012 on Kickstarter for its virtual reality goggles. It went on to be acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Crazy! Clearly, Kickstarter gave Oculus Rift the visibility it needed. But even for smaller scale projects, crowdsource funding can be a very good indicator of the market and demand for a product.
TV: Are hackerspaces important for enterprise?
MA: They can be. Lots of cool projects have been created at hackerspaces, which later went on to become products launched by startup companies. Lots of 3D printer companies, for example, have grown from hackerspaces.
People at corporations, large and small, have started using hackerspaces’ websites and IRC channels, as well as peoples’ github, to find people to hire. They also recruit for hack-a-thons, which are also used for recruiting for hiring. There has even been many field trips to Noisebridge from well-known companies. Companies are also trying to learn from what works at hackerspaces, and wanting to re-create the creativity-spawning process that hackerspaces promote, and add that to their corporate culture. Some have even added hackerspaces in their companies. Ford, for instance, has a hackerspace. This allows everyone at Ford, even people who don’t normally design cars, to come together and play, sometimes coming up with ideas that are later incorporated into Ford’s cars’ designs.
Companies can benefit if their employees have opportunities toward growth and education. This can happen at hackerspace, and it can happen at companies, too. If companies become places where employees actually want to be, that helps the employees, and can only benefit the company. It’s great to have people in all sorts of realms creatively converged on a mission. They are very much missions with open ended curiosity, energy, and ingenuity.
I’ll add that many schools, universities, museums, and libraries are also starting to incorporate hackerspaces into their missions, making it a part of their cultures. (And if they also incorporate a Hacker in Residency program, even more will benefit.)
TV: What does the future of embedded and hacker spaces have for the culture of tech.
MA: The future is entangled and threaded into the fabric of the choices we make — including what we choose to do with our time, and what we choose to make. In so many ways, that’s who we really are: how we use our creativity, what we make and what we do. People have always made tools in our attempts to make our lives better. Everything we make is Tech. Culture is Tech. Tech is Culture. Culture defines Innovation. Culture sets the context for how things we make are used. Hackerspaces, incubators, accelerators, startups are some examples of early adopters of this transfusion in making more of culture blend with technology and art. I hope we can make the results positive for more people to live fulfilling lives. I’ll be doing what I can towards this end.
TV: Last question, well really not a question… Please consider us friends. 🙂
MA: Off course, let’s go out and do more cool stuff!
Haven’t checked out the first portion of this interview? You can find it here.