Hackerspacing in Europe: WhiteSpace in Gent

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Welcome to the White Space, or as it is more fondly known, 0x20.

We’re glad we made it out to this one — it wasn’t even planned, but after visiting HSBXL, one of the members got us in touch and so we took a chance and got on a train to Gent, Belgium — just in case someone could show us around. We were in luck, and two members showed up to give us the grand tour!

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After wandering around Gent like a pair of lost tourists, we managed to find the complex that WhiteSpace is a part of. Similar to Garage Lab but the building is enclosed, and it seems to house more studios in the space.
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The mailbox is a bit confusing — #13 does not mean they are in studio #13. Nope — they are actually on the 2nd floor in 1.21.

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The ever popular Club-Mate is here as well — it’s everywhere! But in these packets is an interesting blend of caffeine, guarana, and who knows what else. One of the members, [Bart], warned us that they aren’t very tasty…

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This is the main area of the space, on the left we have the bar (with an automated cash/inventory system), couches, desks, and all the outlets you could ever need.

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They also have an old arcade machine with about 8 games — that run off the original tapes. Very fun.

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View of the lounge, projector screen in the back. Great spot to sit back and relax.

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This is cool — in case you didn’t know, Belgium has free Wi-Fi everywhere (translated). What started out as a hobby by a few enthusiasts in Antwerp over 10 years ago is now a national Wi-Fi network that is free to use for everyone. In essence, everyone shares their network connection and this creates a giant mesh — the beauty of it all? Everyone in Belgium has the same IP address — take that NSA! For more information check the links above.

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Another view of the lounge from the other side. The space isn’t huge, but it’s definitely cosy.

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Beside the entrance to the workshop we have the member storage shelf, where people can keep all their unfinished projects.
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This is the back workshop.

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Lots of space for messy projects, and there is even proper ventilation!

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There’s an old potato canon hanging out on one of the cross-beam shelves.

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This is pretty cool — the roof opens up and WhiteSpace hacked the mechanism to include a fan to help ventilate. It’s all controlled by a 3-position switch by the door.

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More storage space…

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One of the lounge couches and the sticker repository.

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One of the members made a giant array of split-flap displays — 140 characters to be exact. Can you guess what it was for? Four of the characters stay here, and it’s still fully functional!

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WhiteSpace also happened to have a supply of Hackerspace Passports! If you weren’t aware, these exist! We’re a few stamps behind now, but not all spaces even have a stamp yet. Can you spot the Hack A Day logo?

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And finally a view of the kitchen and bar area. The small monitor on the left is powered by a Raspberry Pi which controls the food and beverage accounting system.

All in all, WhiteSpace is a really cool hackerspace with a lot of character and a great atmosphere. If you happen to be in or nearby Gent, Belgium — check it out!

Comments

  1. bill.french says:

    Wow, certainly not a name that would fly in the US.

    • DougR says:

      Agreed and that is sad. I am not promoting discrimination in any way, but being overly touchy about race issues is just the same problem in a different guise.

      I happen to like the name and the 0x20 variant is even better. It would be great to take a tour like this some day.

      • medix says:

        +1

        It makes me pretty unhappy that someone even had to point out the name in the first place.

        If you’re up for touring, go for it. There’s lots to see here. ;)

        • jegeva says:

          True, speciall if you’re around Ghent in september check whitespace and brucon[.org] ad drop by i the other spaces , this (somewhat) benelux tour did a great job of touring all the neighbours ! great job HaD !

          • medix says:

            At MadSpace we’re considering organizing a few tours of our own, but it’ll have to wait until after we move to our new location. We’re so close that it’s almost crazy to NOT visit.. ;)

    • Kris Lee says:

      Wtf dude?

      • bill.french says:

        wtf what? All I’m saying is that name would never fly in the US. I’m not saying the folks at 0x20 are racist, insensitive, discriminatory, or anything at all. The name is clever, and maybe in nearly any other culture besides the US, it works just fine.

        But, folks here in the US would find it spectacularly offensive.

        • medix says:

          I think the point was that it was un-necessary to even bring it up. The rest of the world doesn’t care (at least in the hacker community) and, from what I’ve read here, never even thought of it like this.

          • pw700z says:

            Your point is totally valid. But — there’s been lots of discussion in the international hackerspace community about being more inclusive, so that hackerspaces are not just playgrounds for young to middle aged white males (or whatever the local male majority is for that matter). It’s not just a US issue, but i think most everyone knows that racial and gender sensitivity is a pretty big thing here. And, it’s a topic that’s important to me. Seeing a place called “White Space” — wow. Look at the pictures. All white males. Looking at it through the lens of an American hackerspace president, it was shocking at first blush.

            I get that the world is not the US. Cultures are different. Perhaps the Belgians have figured it all out and have none of these sensitivities. It was so shocking to me, I was compelled to comment. Is my commentary on hackerspace culture completely irrelevant to the hackaday posting? Maybe, there’s a valid argument to be made there. I thought it was worth mentioning, so I did. Being first post certainly gave it more prominence than perhaps it deserved.

        • c3p says:

          lol, as i commented father below i had a sticker from the hackerspace for a long time, and never thought about racial implications.

  2. Hack a Day Reader from Europe says:

    Why necessary perceive “white space” like a discrimination? Everyday HaD writes about Hackerspaces. When I read this article nothing about discrimination come to my mind. I understand that different countries have they problems, but there’s nothing to see every thing, name etc. through discrimination viewpoint. I don’t have nothing bad to other nationality, race etc. We all are humans, we all are in community and must one to another respect the ideas, work. Its a litlle offtopic.

    More and more I’m knowing about Hackerspaces from HaD articles. Each Hackerspace have their rules even a passport! Very unusual and individual :)

    I wondering about whether there is a special license for this kind of activity in accommodation? Or you just buy a space either rent it and that’s all? You can go now and build something?

    And last point. Free Wi-Fi spots. I don’t live in Germany(Deutchland), but I know about them little, that they prohibits free Wi-Fi spots from home users, that they must have a password. Interesting how and who in Belgium manages free Wi-Fi, waht they think about security problems or other illegal activity e.g. torrents? Spam? Of course, if such problems appears at all.

    P.S. Generally very good articles about Hackerspaces, keep them writing! Big plus (:

    • Michael says:

      About the free wifi: the two big internet providers Belgacom and Telenet have a system where all of their subscribers host a public wifi network, next to their own, private one. As a subscriber to one of them, you can log into these public networks of your cable company with a login that is coupled to your own subscription, subtracting your usage from the monthly volume in your plan. Not exactly free wifi for everyone, but coming close.

      • warddr says:

        This is not the kind of free wifi Wireless Belgium is offering…
        Wireless Belgium is a group of amateur radio and network enthusiasts who created a network in Belgium (and beyond) based on wireless links between the access points. There is no ADSL involved.

        It’s free for everyone who wants to use it, no login required. You just have to agree with the TOS and you are ready to surf the internet (and use the huge intranet if you want to contact a computer that is also connected to Wireless Belgium).

        • Oh, nice, do you guy use wider-wifi instead of normal wifi, this give you farer distance than normal wifi. also , do you encounter more ppl use it, more congestion in your wifi network , I believe it is manufactory to discourage commerical used like you guys

    • Moem says:

      There is no such thing as a hackerspace license. It’s not a protected or legal status. If you can get the space and the people, you’re good to go.

      Generally, the people should come first, everything else follows. In this case, ‘if you build it, they will come’ is not the way to go: it’s the other way around. Get some people together, start meeting on a regular basis, in someone’s home if you must. Everything else will follow over time.

    • qwaxys says:

      Origin of the name: the street the space is in is called “Blekerijstraat” which translates to “Bleachingstreet” so they came up with the name whitespace, it’s related to it’s location (the building was a “blekerij” (bleaching company) but got changed into workspaces and it has the word “space” in it.
      It can also be written in short by it’s hex code 0x20.

      Those are the reasons the space has the word white in it, no other reasons..

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    LOTS of beer. Good to see no one goes thirsty.

  4. jef says:

    you must have been very lucky to get to your destination by train (on time?) in Belgium

  5. qwe says:

    Wow – someone cleans up in there! A tidy hackerspace is a rare sight to see.

  6. Dave says:

    Why are al these Belgian spaces only open on thursday? That’s like the one and only evening I can not visit. :(

    • Kris Lee says:

      In our space, full member get the key so they can open every time they please. You become full member after 3 months of participation.

      So maybe these Thursdays are just kind of open days where space is guaranteed to be open?

      In addition, many European spaces have openness status on the web page.

    • Hey,

      hackerspace Brussels has it’s open night on Tuesday, Urlab is open on Mondays… don’t know where you pick up that Thursday idea…

      PS. As for the name… just for the fun of it, it’s nice to know their birthday parties (which are great btw) are called “NewLine” … Your can get there if you return your carriage :)

    • qwaxys says:

      All hackerspaces in Belgium are open when there are members present (they have a key)
      They also have a weekly meeting day when everybody show up.
      Whitespace Ghent: Thursday
      HSBXL Brussels: Tuesday
      Voidwarranties Antwerp: Wednesday
      Those are the ones I’ve been to (and a member of Ghent)
      So you see It’s not all on Thursdays ;)

  7. I visited another space in Ghent earlier this summer called DOK. It was a cool place and even had it’s own beach. It appears to have closed down soon after my visit.

  8. c3p says:

    lol, for years i had a sticker from Whitespace on my Laptop, because i nicked it at CCC Aachen :D
    love your logo!

  9. Oh cool, they have a NeoGeo MVS in their arcade machine :)

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