What is a Hackerspace – Why start one?


people that know me, probably also know that I have founded a so called hackerspace in my local town last year. Actually, I founded it with my good friend Albert Frisch, and with all the help from my friends and family.

Before I go into what a hackerspace actually is, I will explain why we decided that we absolutely need to have one, and therefore started that effort.

It all started out with my working on my own Open Source Video Editing Software. Which was actually inspired by my bodybuilding and weightlifting brother doing amateur movie projects, and myself being quite a Linux enthusiast and running a local Linux User Group.

But I digress, my involvement into the Linux Video Community brought me one day to the Piksel Festival for Open Source and electronic arts. There I made a couple of quite life changing experiences.

You might have never been to an arts festival like this, so I have to try my best to describe what I experienced there. However, I am afraid to really make sense of it, you have to experience this yourself.

When you bring a number of very creative people from all over the world into one place, and they all mingle, work concurrently on all kinds of ideas, play, experiment, etc. something special happens. You have to imagine, artists can be quite open about what they are doing, and they are not afraid to try all kinds of things that might be dangerous, pointless, useless, interesting, fun, chaotic, complex, indecipherable, etc.

For example, there is the practice of “circuit bending”, which is taking apart electronic toys, essentially destroying them, and trying to connect cables that weren’t meant to be connected, just to find out, what sounds it might make.

And now imagine a whole festival where everyone is interacting and participating, doing stuff you are not ought to do. This creates kind of a bubble, a little place where everything is possible, where everything is allowed. Nobody is afraid anymore of screwing up, because essentially everyone else is screwing up already. This is a very good feeling, and it is an atmosphere where things just start to happen.

So I started thinking, determined to take that good feeling home with me, and share it with everyone I know. And I realized that there are actually places where people that are coming to events like Piksel gather. There are media labs, and artists workshops and communities all around the globe.

And the Hackerspace Zeitsparwerk is the result of that determination, its our little bubble of freedom and unlimited creativity.

Here is a video where I demonstrate a climbing wall that was built in our hackerspace:

Have fun



Talking to 100 People, friendly and efficiently

I recently reread the cluetrain manifesto, about real conversations with “markets”, and it made me think about a couple of things.

I remembered a recent experience talking on the phone with a government agency. To say the least, the experience was disappointing,  it felt as if nobody in there knew what anyone else was doing.

However, the cluetrain manifesto does not have a real solution for this, because even if everybody was talking straight, mixups would happen, because a person only has a limited mental capacity to keep up with personal relationships.

And especially with phone calls I find it difficult to have “real” conversions, because you never know in what situation you might reach someone, the person called might be angry, tired or just not in the mood for talking a call.

Having read the about the E-Myth recently, I kind of made a connection, and realized, why even when you are trying to do “real” conversions, you will need to have phone scripts that people can use when a customer or contact calls.

A scripted friendly greeting at the beginning of every call can channel a conversation into a friendly mood, that makes communication and understanding possible.

And this is really where technology comes. Nobody can really have authentic conversions with 1000 people, so one needs to rely on an extension of the brain, and that is the computer.

Digital Adressbooks, Call Logs, Email-Archives, Facebook, etc. help to recall a conversion into the short term memory of a person to continue where it was left of. Also CRM Systems and call transcripts are necessery when organisations are talking, because it enables different people to continue conversations without awkwardly having to reintroduce all facts from previous phone-calls.