Makerspaces – an introduction

What are Makerspaces and Hackerspaces?

Maker Culture: The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of the (Do It Yourself) DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of computer tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.

Hackerspace: Hackerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things. In general, hackerspaces function as centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They typically provide space for members to work on individual projects, or to collaborate on group projects with other members.

Sharing Economy: The sharing economy (aka the share economy, the shared economy, the mesh or the collaborative economy) refers to economic and social systems that enable shared access to good, services, data and talent. A common premise is that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods increases, for the business, and for the community.

Social Equity: Social equity leaves plenty of room for individuals, households, and communities to seek the mix of economic, social, and ecological assets that best reflects their values. It critically depends on diverse local economies that provide a wide range of work opinions for those of all ages and skills.

Industrial Arts: Is an umbrella term originally conceived in the late 19th century to describe educational programs which featured fabrication of objects in wood and/or metal using a variety of hand, power, or machine tools. In the United States Industrial Arts classes are colloquially known as “shop class”; these programs expose young adults to the basics of home repair, manual craftsmanship, and machine safety.

Global is the new Local:

Globalization, contract manufacturing, new small-scale manufacturing technologies and better information flows are creating opportunities to bring manufacturing out of the large centers and closer to home.

From an environmental perspective, one of the most important sectors is contract manufacturing. Contract manufacturing is expanding rapidly in many industries, meaning that more manufacturing is being done on the outside of companies we have traditionally thought of as manufacturers.

A selection of similar organizations:

Artistans Asylum (www.artisansasylum.com) Located in Somerville, Massachusetts, is a non-profit organization furnishing education, tools, workspace, and community to empower dedicated fabricators, including hobbyists, artists, and early stage entrepreneurs, to create on large or small scale. They serve the Somerville and global creative community, the arts, and the goal of making the world a place where sincere, creative individuals are able to give form to their ideas.

Flux Factory (www.fluxfactory.org) Located in Long Island City, New York is a non-profit art organization that supports and promotes emerging artists through exhibitions, commissions, residencies, and collaborative opportunities. Flux Factory is guided by its passion to nurture the creative process, and knows that this process does not happen in a vacuum but rather through a network of peers and through resource-sharing. Flux Factory functions as an incubation and laboratory space for the creation of artworks that are in dialogue with the physical, social, and cultural spheres of New York City (though collaborations may start in New York and stretch far beyond).

TechShop (www.techshop.ws/index.html) TechShop is a playground for creativity. Part fabrication and prototyping studio, part hackerspace and part learning center, TechShop provides access to over $1 million worth of professional equipment and software. We offer comprehensive instruction and expert staff to ensure you have a safe, meaningful and rewarding experience. Each of our facilities includes laser cutters, plastics and electronic labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a textiles department, welding stations and a waterjet cutter.

Collab (www.collab-orators.com) is located in New York City and has been created to provide space, technology, and manufacturing equipment for Artists, Architects, Fabricators, Engineers, Painters, Graphic designers, Entrepreneurs, Environmental Earth Scientists, Musicians, Photographers, and others from a diversity of interdisciplinary pursuits to work on their ideas while collectively developing socially and environmentally conscious prototypes and solutions for this new era. Collab is a combination think tank and fabrication laboratory, providing members with the tools to work on their idea, and an open source platform, if they choose, for expanding and exchanging those ideas with other members and the populace.

Albany Barn (http://www.albanybarn.org/) is dedicated to providing a sustainable creative arts incubator and community arts center in Arbor Hill, a place for artists to live, work and inspire. It is creating a community renaissance catalyzed through creative collaboration.

AS220 (http://as220.org/) AS220 is an artist-run organization committed to providing an unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts. AS220 offers artists opportunities to live, work, exhibit and/or perform in its facilities, which include several rotating gallery spaces, a performance stage, a black-box theater, a print shop, a darkroom and media arts lab, a fabrication and electronics lab, a dance studio, a youth program focusing on youth under state care and in the juvenile detention facilities, four dozen affordable live/work studios for artists, and a bar and restaurant. AS220’s facilities and services are available to any artist who needs a place to exhibit, perform, or create original work and its classes and public-access studios are among the most affordable in the nation. AS220 was founded on the principle that freedom of expression is crucial for the development of strong communities and individual spirits.

AS220’s vision for a local unjuried and uncensored forum for the arts was launched in a one-room rental above the Providence Performing Arts Center in 1985 with a budget of just $800. Today, the non-profit owns – and enlivens – three mixed-use buildings, totaling over 100,000 square feet, in the heart of Providence’s downtown and represents a $25 million investment in downtown Providence. AS220 has earned a national reputation synonymous with an egalitarian, accessible approach to creative community – offering an alternative to the obstacles of conventional presenting venues. We provide an inclusive forum for any and all Rhode Island artists to share their original artwork, embracing the full spectrum of the arts: theatre, dance, poetry, photography, music, printmaking, creative “hacking”, painting, puppetry, and beyond. AS220 is credited as a national model for urban revitalization and has been recognized nationally for its catalytic role in the revitalization of downtown Providence. We recently completed our 3rd, award-winning historic restoration project bringing us to a total of 100,000 square feet of lively, mixed-use space. Each of our buildings is comprised of a vibrant blend of local and arts-related program spaces including galleries, performance venues, and public-access art studios. AS220 has and continues to play a key role in the revitalization of downtown Providence while advocating for the intrinsic value of artists and art practice in the role of community development. Each year, AS220 serves over 1,000 artists and is destination for upwards of 93,000 people.

Tech Valley Center of Gravity (www.tvcog.net) is located in Troy, New York and is a federation of makers, hackers, crafters, and artists who share camaraderie, space, and resources to tinker. Their primary goal is to build a community around the idea of doing, rather than just passively consuming, and learning how the arts, crafts, and technologies that surround us every day work. They aim to create a network of contacts for small business and start-ups in the Capital Region to connect with local leaders, like-minded businesses and individuals, and tools and resources they might not otherwise have access to.