How I Embraced My Introvert And Joined The Hacker Community

For some people to join a new group is an exciting proposal, to meet new people and interact with them to accomplish a goal is their idea of a good time. If this describes you then you’re all set to jump in there and make some new friends! There are other people who see social interaction as not such a good time. They would rather avoid that situation and go on about their normal day, I get it. In general my level of comfort is inversely proportional to the number of people with me. This is not a character trait that I chose, I’m an introvert by nature.

The stereotype depicts hackers, nerds, or geeks as people without many friends who spend most of our time alone or you might just call us “loners”. I should make it clear that I’m writing this article from a table for 1 at my local diner and it would be out of the ordinary if there was another person at this table with me. Just in case someone feels the need to speak to me I’m wearing headphones as a deterrent, audio delivery is not their use at this time (headphone hack). I can feel the first comment brewing so let me nip that in the bud real quick: I’m in a restaurant AND actively being alone because there are often too many distractions at home to get things done in a timely manner. And I like the pancakes.

Before I climb up on this soapbox let me say that many of you are already involved in the community and are doing a great job, in fact I’m pretty sure many of the old-timers I talk about are Hackaday readers. This article is a result of my self reflection regarding my lack of community involvement as of late. I can’t think of any reasons why I shouldn’t take myself down a peg or two publicly, enjoy.

I won’t bother with the “Ra-Ra! Team Spirit!” garbage to get you all jazzed up to be a part of the team. But I will tell you what you’re missing out on by not being active and participating. It’s similar to the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make that horse join a group of like-minded horses that would all benefit from a wealth of horse-knowledge.” The saying changes depending on where you’re from, that’s how it was told to me.

Try Saying Yes to Everything

This is where you can get into a holding pattern if you aren’t careful. You don’t have to over-think this decision, next time something interests you speak up. Say: “That sounds fun, count me in!”. It’s that simple a lot of times, by voicing your interest in an area… we need an example here don’t we?

einAlright, let’s say I walked into the Dallas Makerspace for the first time and I was taking the free tour to see what the place was all about. While I was hypothetically being guided around the building there were members everywhere doing all the normal member-y things. Obviously I came across something that interested me (it’s a hackerspace afterall): a robot designed to draw on dry-erase boards. We won’t ever know what would have happened if I had spoken up at that moment and told the guy running it that I was interested.

In a related story: I did finally speak up and asked [Brandon AGr] about his robot… 8 months later. It was the beginning of an exciting project that took another 2 years to get finished, it was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What if I hadn’t ever said anything to [AGr] about his robot that I thought was interesting? How many times have I seen a project or concept that inspired passion in me and not said anything? How many times have you kept quiet when you could have said “Hey, that’s pretty interesting. What was your motivation for the design?” or something more relevant to the situation?

What do you call a group of introverts?

Obviously I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but my closest friends are introverts. I started to write that as if you might not have known that about me. As I got towards the end of the sentence it dawned on me “Of course my friends are introverts, otherwise they wouldn’t be my friends.” I’m not saying that I only choose to be friends with people that are similar to me in this way. But if you think about it logistically, how else could that relationship work?

I told you all of this introvert business because I’m sure some of you are introverts as well. If you’re anything like me you may be hiding behind it instead of interacting. The difference for me was how I treated the events, if I go into it thinking it’s a social event I’ll start planning my Irish Exit before arriving at the event. If I treat it as anything else I tend to do much better. If I’m going to meet with someone about a specific project or discuss a subject then I focus on the topic, once the meeting is over I don’t linger to mingle and/or socialize. That would be exhausting. Instead, I go on about my day as I would normally do.

Giving Back

Getting back on the topic of collaboration on projects, how many times has someone decided not to speak up about one of our projects? How many times could I have helped someone with a problem that I myself have struggled to solve? I can deal with my own demons but when I think about people that may have been too shy, embarrassed, or intimidated to ask for help or express interest it doesn’t sit well with me. That’s what I’m really on a soap box about, paying forward all the knowledge and experience shared with us by our old-timers. I’m by no means done gathering info from those who have been doing this longer, and if a kid has the courage to ask me for help with an electronics project or physics experiment or science fair project I’ll re-arrange my life to accommodate.

Not too long ago a young [Akash Vijay] did ask me for some help with his school project. His goal was to charge a cell phone from the rear wheel of his bicycle. This is not an original idea, but his implementation was impressive. [Akash] had the theory pretty well worked out but had some small issues with hardware. We met up at the Dallas Makerspace and spent a few hours in the electronics room. I gave him a quick soldering lesson, a little help using the oscilloscope, and some troubleshooting tips. It didn’t seem like much to me and in-fact I think he would have come to the same result eventually, I just shared some troubleshooting techniques he wasn’t familiar with. That is the story from my perspective mind you, if you had been in the room when charging LED came on you would have thought I gave [Akash] one of my kidneys. His parents also shared his enthusiasm, I was taken aback to say the least.

IMG_20160116_210657If I had to tell the story in a single sentence: “I helped [Akash] find a problem in his circuit with a multi-meter.”

What seemed trivial to me was definitively non-trivial to the three of them. They were genuinely stuck and needed help, which was originally presented to me in a very reserved manner. It wasn’t until that LED came on that I understood the weight of the situation. When the circuit was assembled and the bicycle was pedaled I expected the LED to come on, they did not and to them it was almost a miracle.

I’m by no means a troubleshooting genius, that’s not what I’m saying. The problem that was presented to [Akash] is a problem that has been presented to me, and at one time it stopped me in my tracks. I was stuck. But once you see a problem enough times it does become trivial, the process becomes as mindless as driving to work. To stick with the driving metaphor: the day I was scheduled to drive a car on the road for the first time I was so nervous I wasn’t able to eat anything the entire day. Not only was it a terrifying event, but by thinking about it all day I made it much worse in my mind. When school was out for the day and I was dropped off at Drivers Ed I drove the car on the road just fine. As it turns out the system was designed with a nervous 15yr old kid in mind and to make sure everyone involved would be okay they put an experienced driver in the car with me. I won’t tell you whether Mrs. Penny had to use the brake pedal on her side or not, but we all lived through the experience.

Pass on Your Knowledge; Be a Community

We’ve all been there: completely stumped, stuck, out of options and ready to give up or perhaps some of us had already given up when the old-timer walked into the room. “Have you tried the blah, blah, blah?” they said in passing, which was the equivalent of giving us one of their kidneys. It was fixed, problem solved! Circuit = YES! The kicker is that I’m not even completely sure they looked at the problem area long enough to spot my defeated spirit, but they sure as hell fixed it.

I’m suggesting we give that back. Not to the old-timers we got it from, but perhaps you’ve seen someone struggle that might appreciate a nudge in the right direction? Or consider offering some information in the form of a class at your local hackerspace. Post your how-to guides over on Hackaday.io and look around for projects that need some help overcoming a problem. Every time you can inspire someone else, or help make their path to the finish a bit less bumpy, you are making a difference and you are building and participating in the Hacker Community.

At some point in the distant future we will be the old-timers, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to give it all back to the community I got it from. And in true old-timer form it’s never too early to start telling someone the same story for years to come.

I’m not waiting to do all of this. I will be hosting Mrs. Penny’s Driving School, a series of hardware design workshops at my local hackerspace which is the Dallas Makerspace starting in April. Stay tuned for more info regarding Mrs. Penny’s Driving School, which really is the title of the workshop.

If you aren’t familiar with Hackaday.io events check out the Hackaday LA Meetup hosted by [Jasmine], and the Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic hosted by [Chris Gammell] in San Francisco. And one last plug for Mrs Penny’s Driving School in Dallas hosted by [Brandon Dunson].

67 thoughts on “How I Embraced My Introvert And Joined The Hacker Community

  1. That’s exactly what I am doing since I retired from the active workforce. I am currently mentoring High School students building a robot for the FIRST competition. It is very rewarding to see kids showing enthusiasm and build a robot with very strict guidelines and goals.

    1. THIS! I was a lone wolf for years until I met some kids from an FTC team at a maker festival. I was very impressed with their robot and their professionalism. When one of their sponsors asked me to come help out with a hackathon they were participating in I decided to give it a try. Before that I had no interaction with young folks and had generally negative opinions of kids.I’m so glad I was wrong!
      That was about 6 years ago. Now I mentor a library based FRC team and I’m starting an FTC team next season as well. I was a bit reluctant to become a mentor because I’m not a robot builder or programmer. These kids knew way more than me when it came to robots- what did I have to offer? Well, I have real world fund raising, organizational, leadership and shop craft skills. I know how to work with other folks to get things done. I grew up kind of poor, so I know how to save money (a well-stocked Dumpster is my McMaster-Carr!). I know the things they don’t teach in classes and the kids are hungry for that IRL experience. Mostly what they need is an adult who’s not a parent or teacher to show an interest in what they do.
      It’s also enriched my life. I now have a network of young folks who I work with on a regular basis. I still see those kids from my first maker festival and two of them are co-mentors for the team I’m currently working with. I love these kids! They give me hope for the future and offer a balance to the narcissistic snowflakes the media constantly presents us with.

  2. Talking about joining a community and being part of a great project… the open source Mooltipass offline password project team is made from people from all over the globe, who never saw each other in real life!
    We’re currently working on a mini version of it so you’re welcome to come and hang out on IRC on #mooltipass on irc.freenode.net if you’re interested in joining or just watching us talk about security things!

  3. No offense, but I’ve been in “hacker communities” in multiple countries and never seen a single “shy” or “introvert” member. It’s actually a contradiction in terms..

    I’d imagine if a quiet and somewhat isolated person did try to integrate in to a community like say: DEFCON, it probably wouldn’t work out too well unless they were just disproportionately skilled to the point they were considered too valuable; in which case why would they go to one of the communities which are mostly entertainment and social-networking anyways? Even in that case they would probably typically be excluded until needed..

    I’ve been seeing this inaccurate stereotype used for “hackers” and IT roles for decades and never seen a single case where it was even remotely validated.. You won’t even get pass an interview at most companies unless, again, you’re disproportionately skilled to the point of being too valuable.

    1. Speaking for myself, I am usually quiet around people because the the things I like to talk about. When around people that aren’t well versed in all things tech, you sound like droning voice. I am so used to eyes glazing over when I get into passionate discussions or explanations, I have learned to simply quiet myself preemptively.

      However, I don’t have this problem with people that I know I can talk to and I’m actually fairly social.
      I’d love to be part of a hackerspace, but the closest to me is in Dallas and I don’t have money or time to join and consistently contribute. Maybe some time in the future though.

      Also, this is my first time commenting on Hackaday, although I’ve been a reader for over 7 years.

    2. I’m a private person.

      I went to the local hackerspace, got a tour, things looked OK so I decided to join.

      As part of joining they gave me a Google+ account and GMail address, without mentioning this beforehand. Everyone gets one, it’s made in your real name, and they don’t think it’s a problem.

      They have a real-name policy for Slack, and every member is listed. You simply cannot participate without using your real name, I tried *changing* my name to a nick and the admin changed it back.

      They recently updated their waiver, it’s online, and you E-sign using a pad at the local space. It takes your picture *without telling you*. I found out later and complained to management, and their response was “oh, we thought there was a paragraph that said that. It must have been deleted by accident, we’ll put it back”.

      A lifetime of privacy from before the internet, pierced by people who think it’s unimportant to them, so it shouldn’t be important to anyone else.

      I could be doing a *lot* for the hackerspace, I’ve put in massive amounts of time helping other volunteer organizations, but because of their policies I stay away from the social aspects.

      There are many fulfilling and interesting things to occupy my time, and life’s too short to spend it with them.

      1. Even if they didn’t have that you’d naturally eventually be excluded for lack of participation. Unless, again, your contribution/productivity was so disproportionately valuable above the typical member that you leaving would be too great a loss..

        It’s the same way with employers and other assimilation aspects of society in all countries.. Of course people will say otherwise but feel free to spend minutes looking at it..

          1. It’s not about -if- it’s about -how much-. The ugly salesman has to work harder to sale a car as a car salesman.. It’s not like I’m talking conspiracy theories. Natural-selection is a science.

          2. We use ‘handles’ (essentially aliases) at our makerspace, if for no other reason than to add a layer of obscurity for younger participants. People that automatically sign you up for email and take your picture on e-sign without notification are probably going to Assume a bunch of other things in the “Oh, We’re Sorry” category. Like Mr. Miyagi said, “Best Defense: No Be There.”

        1. “you’d naturally eventually be excluded for lack of participation”

          But as a hacker, isn’t “participation” mostly about the hacking? Communicating and collaborating is merely an extension of the hacking process. Hacking can be done solo, hence why the OP is arguing that it’s mostly for introverts. Activities like sports and social gatherings cannot be done alone, but you can sit home alone and hack all day and it would make perfect sense.

          Just because introverts make up the majority of hackers doesn’t mean that extroverts can’t participate in the community as well.

          Ps. You also misunderstand what “natural selection” entails: natural selection is linked to the evolutionary process and was used by Darwin to describe how certain living things acquired “favorable” traits via RANDOM MUTATIONS. It has nothing to do with “assimilating” in a community or whatever that means. Natural selection takes place at the genetic level and is dictated by the occurence of mutations–it has nothing to do with the choices people make to be social or introverted.

          1. “Just because introverts make up the majority of hackers ”

            Are you delusional? Go to a ‘con’ and see how many quiet passive people you find.. Hell, most of the attendees go to after parties where there is nothing but small talk and getting drunk and networking..

            No I _do_ understand natural selection. If a quiet person doesn’t have a significant margin of intelligence or relevant skill over the social person they have less chances of prosperity and all cultures have a tendency to act on this..

            You actually discredited your cute little social construct(or troll,,, it looks kind of engineered) when you suggested introverts were a majority in the hacking scene. This is obviously not true without even having to look at any statistic.. They aren’t a majority in anything..

    3. It shouldn’t be surprising that even though you’ve been to hacker communities, you haven’t seen introverted people there. The true introverts won’t go to things like that.

      1. and the reason I pointed out is at least a small factor in the decision process for even the most reclusive of introvert..

        All cultures are indifferent and even sometimes hostile towards anything small and foreign. You’ll see the same thing with work-places. Quiet people in leather jackets aren’t security engineers or reverse engineers at companies. Not even in the smallest of numbers to reinforce that cheesy stereotype..

        I started seeing the fake counter-culture stuff popping up in media as early as the 80s regarding IT and intellectualism—“hacking”. The hacker scene has always been very social and articulate people collaborating; the smartest the social-majority per-country/culture can offer except in extremely rare cases with figures like Grigori Perelman where that proportion-value I mention shows..

        1. In summary: Everything you’ve ever read about introverts or quiet-types(WarGames, ny times articles, wired etc..) and hacking is pretty much bullshit made to give the illusion of counter-culture for exposure.. It’s “normal” articulate people collaborating..

          1. You’ve obviously never heard of Charles Darwin, and despite what your generation says, disagreeing isn’t “trolling”..

            Don’t worry I’m sure you’ll get freedom of speech killed off one of these days.. Just bury it in non-prescription thick-framed glasses and slim-fit jeans..

      2. I find it interesting that all the Jungian experts here believe they can spot an introvert from across the room or that the introvert would never set foot in the room. In all my Meyers-Briggs tests, I’ve landed on the introvert side of the spectrum. I’m not innately social, have a hard time connecting with people in groups, and find I’m more inclined to crawl into my shop space to recharge or destress than to go “cut loose.” That said, I do enjoy playing music with friends and nerding out on projects with one or few others. It takes a lot of mental energy to mobilize myself to get out and do it, and I always end up feeling like an outsider because I don’t have great conversational skills. As primates we’re good at learning and adapting… I’ll never “learn” my way into extroversion but that doesn’t mean I haven’t picked up enough knowledge to try to fit in and participate.

        The author has a good story and is well intentioned, and the core of the message (as I read it) is that even if it doesn’t come naturally, we all benefit and can make a difference by making those community connections.

    4. I consider myself introvert and has several friends who also are. Some of them has some level of autisum (don’t all hackers?) and some even have social phobia. However, when together in a hackerspace we tend to come alive and socialize within our group beacuse we ahve a common burning interest to discuss.
      I think introvert is a term that rather states unusual intrerests. I have several unusual interests (like electronics building, cosplyaing, roleplaying), and I find that I usually don’t want to talk too openly about them with my work collegues (some fear of “not fitting in”). But with my other “introvert” friends (or rather the people with unusual interests) I can talk freely about my hobbies.
      So, basically, you are “shy” or “introvert” with people you don’t have a common interest with, which is especially prominent for people with unusual hobbies.

      1. Actually, no. Introvert doesn’t mean “person with special interests not shared by the majority of other people”. It means I’m much happier when other people around me go away than if they stick around, regardless of whether they share my interests or not. Incidentally, it also means you wouldn’t catch me dead in a “hackerspace” no matter what you think the advantages might be – “cooperation” can only possibly hold me back and as someone who takes great care of my stuff I have learned very early on to be strongly averse to “shared resources” which always equal “stuff with no owner, (mis)handled and cared for accordingly”. I KNOW I’m not fitting in almost anywhere, but I’m not interested in fitting in at all. That’s the whole point – I have no urge to belong to a crowd, any crowd. There just aren’t any upsides to it.

        1. Actually, introversion has to do with how you recharge and destress, and it’s a continuum rather than a binary concept. I enjoy being with friends and sharing common interests, but when I need to unwind I’m more likely to stay in alone or with my wife than to want to got out and socialize. Socializing takes too much mental energy.

      1. Never underestimate peoples tendency to refer to themselves as outcasts or introverts or rebels because they don’t go to the night-club, bar, or Starbucks _as much_…

        Culture of BS..

        1. That’s what I’ve been pointing out here.. It’s trolling to disagree.. It’s not PC to criticize.. Everyone is some time of rebel even though they mostly just work jobs and live in gated communities..

          It’s all BS, but this whole counter-culture and introvert gimmick is annoying and frequent..

  4. The fact that you wrote this “from a table for 1 at my local diner ” frankly puts you at the low-end of introversion if you ask me, congratulations you are almost “normal” (extrovert).

    For many of us, being at “a table for 1 at my local diner” with or without prop-headphones is at best at the limits of social interaction one can tolerate.

    1. Personally I’m too shy to wear even earbuds in the street. And I don’t read replies when I post, because it’s rarely positive. Even here, I can feel people are distancing themselves from the stereotype, because in truth they have a negative opinion of it, even introverts themselves, it’s bad rap for the tribe. More precisely, since there’s this view that extroverts control the world, then there’s an advantage in not being categorized such, for those who still aim for integration.

      There’s also the advantage of saying there’s no insecurity problem, when in my view, by nature being introvert is doomed to bring insecurity issues, because there is more sensitivity, ultimately seen as weakness, and more self-judgment, and less time in social noise, and more eccentricity. Trying to fight the insecurity perception, it is already a sign of insecurity. There’s good reason to be insecure, when all you have is yourself, in a world of tribes which like difference only enough to make believe they do.

  5. Re: giving back and hackaday.io,

    It might be helpful to have a Stack that is just for members needing help. Maybe call it the Stuck Stack. Im willing to help but not willing to sift through zillions of comments and videos and posts searching for the question to answer.

  6. Going to websites that have a comment section under the article is about as social as i get. Going out to a restaurant, alone? Seriously?
    And hackerspaces, doing something that could maybe spark my interest in collaboration, are not that common around here.

  7. What do you call a group of introverts?

    Possible collective nouns:

    An embarrassment of introverts.
    An apprehension of introverts.
    A reservation of introverts.
    A hermitage of introverts.

    And so on…

  8. Just joined the DMS myself! Excited to jump in.

    For those equating introversion with shyness, introversion vs extroversion refers to how you recharge. Do people energize you or drain you? Shyness, social anxiety, anti-social; these are all psychological descriptions of other traits/behaviors, etc.

    I actually like people a good deal. I just have a finite amount of “social” in me each week. Drain that, and you won’t see me for a few days :-)

    1. It can be either, or both. It just depends on how you approach it, and how the hacker-space approaches you. The idea of a Hacker-space is becoming it’s own stereotype. Each space is a little unique in it’s local culture, just go and feel it out.

  9. So, the paranoid type would imagine some management meeting at HaD HQ, The action point that comes up on the powerpoint slide is discussed and the theme is something like “we’re doing ok, but there’s still holdouts not joining hackaday.io and uploading their stuff there. How can we convince them we’re not a business but aimed at fufilling their mental and spirtual well being, and its not about driving it forward as a sucess at all”
    Call me hardened here, but I’ve been around “communities” and helped drive them to be something more, only to find it sold on, its net worth having been increased because of its community. And I’ve been on the other side of the fence in management meetings like the above, where everyone in management was complicit that they were going to quietly take peoples time and build that into a saleable product. Even me I guess since I got paid, although I’m in iT engineering rather than a manager.
    I have been visiting HaD, since it was literally a hack a day. And I’ve posted the odd comment here and there because its completely non subscription in the daily feed, but crossing the line over to interacting on hosted site because I think it requires a account etc to contribute, and if I did that it would contribute in some small way to making someone elses net worth inflate enough to make selling it a juicy proposition to be sold on at a future date, This rings my alarm bells, I was into freshmeat when it had the zombie logo crawling for fresh meat long before it went corporate and saw it moneterized, /, the same, and a whole host of other community stuff that turned out to be built up then sold on. I ran a forum for modifications myself and got offers from companies to buy the community and forum lock stock and barrel because what we built up had some value to the marketing guys. No was the answer.
    And back to this op ed piece, its very clever but not much on substance about the background on why its just come up as a story & feels like a very clever backdoor method of achieving this aim.
    So, cynical old fart here, been round the block. What can anyone say about the company structure behind HaD or its real driving principles and how they are locked in legally to the setup to counter the paranoid voices in my head that are saying to not be played like a patsy and make this the last time I ever post on HaD?

    1. Good points, MrFluffy. Hack a Day did, in fact, sell out in July of 2013, so you’re right in your suspicions that the community has become the product. Still, I enjoy reading the articles, although I refuse to contribute anything more than my silly comments.

  10. hackaday article hitting nerves?
    supplyframe pushing ulterior motives?

    idk, don’t care.
    fuck politics. vote with your feet.
    keep articles relevant to EE, network securities, DSP, applied sciences, mechatronics, rocketry, history, physics, neuroscience, bionics & all round cool shit.
    simple.
    if this space turns into wired. i’m out.
    plenty more streams to drink from.

    some projects are timelessly inspirational.
    some projects are cool as ice on the cutting edge.
    I find as much value in the comments here on hackaday as I do the articles.
    forums are the sum of the substance of their participants. let’s keep it sharp eh?

    i’m feeling fat and sassy! … perhaps it’s just the whisky?

    1. “did you remember to wear your coat?”

      Agreed, knock off the psy-pop WiReD bullsh1t.

      The true spirit of a “Hacker”/”Inventor” IS independence from social conformance and self-reflection.

      Article sounds like a Vegan douche like Steve Jobs telling us to share our thoughts for privatization or some “Gonkai” commie crap.

      +10

  11. I always wanted to come to Dallas Makerspace. But I don’t have a fucking car. I was following them for a long time. DPRG’s videos helped me to learn so many great things. I needed to learn ROS, tutorials on official website was dry and never explained “why?” questions. I all found videos of DPRG on youtube. I was dancing…man, literally. after spending endless hours in finding perfect material, we finally found an invaluable resource. The guys of DPRG are still my heroes, coz they teach you things that you will not learn in any school in the world (my own experience as a mechanical engineering student). I try to convince many of my friends to go to Dallas Makerspace. But guess what I was humiliated. All they wanted was to go to clubs and pubs. This hurts a lot you know. When your generous curiosity makes you socially miserable. But this is not a new experience. It is a part of growing up as a Nerd.

  12. There is illusion and myth here.

    If you had a technical hobby in elementary or even high school, you were out of the norm. You were likely pursuing it by yourself. It wasn’t like school, this was something that interested you. You drank it up and spent a lot of time and available allowance on it. I suppose those into sports weren’t that different, but sports was sanctioned by the school, socially acceptable. Unless a parent got you hooked, there were no immediate adults involved. At school you might have been made fun of, or even picked on. In retrospect, that boy scout who just had to tell me I was a slob was probably like a sheep dog, Keep everyone within the group. The joke being that I did get top marks, but I put no effort into it. The other kids suddenly came to you when they discovered you had something for them, like giving them test answers or hooking up their VCR.

    We weren’t “anyone”. So density was low. But you’d find those other kids some way. One kid in elementary school knew about amateur radio, but he moved away. I got my license at the end of grade 6, more were interested in high school, but I was the only one with a ham license. I was “the leader” because I was further along.

    Sputnik was supposed to change things, I don’t know. Circa 1971 science wasn’t mainstream.

    You found the clubs, whether it was the ham club, or the radio control club, or the astronomy club. The guy with the Greenlee chassis punches would share them, if the club had an auction or fleamarket it was a way for the newcomer to get needed items, a chance for the oldtimer to clear out the junk. I got a five dollar oscilloscope at one radio club auction, really heavy and no bandwidth, and gave it away a few years later when I had the use of something better

    “Carl and Jerry” in Popular Electronics well defined it, too close friends who associated along electronics. Or the kids in Heinlein’s “Rocket Ship Galileo”, only three of them, the others lost interest.

    “Collaboration”? Every time people talked they were exchanging things. Someone would write a magazine article and others would learn. Someone else would look at the construction article, think about what parts were around, and build it their way, maybe some modification, maybe almost unrecognizable from the first article, and write a new article.

    Most weren’t trying to have a commercial product, so why would anyone share the building of something? They’d then have to share the results. ‘Open source”? Anyone could build from the construction articles, it wasn’t about starting a business. And at least most of the parts would stick around long enough to mean something. Some groups even had group projects, buying parts together for lowest prices, then bagging them for the rest to build

    The “maker movement” is about telling people how cool they are, rather than how cool the technology is. It equates knitting with building a satellite, and forgets to mention that even if you can build a satellite, getting into orbit is really difficult. Not everyone can be capable, so it requires “collaboration” so the capable pull up the larger mass. The rest can participate as a social experience, taping together “circuits” rather than learning to solder. People join book clubs for that same “social experience”, reading books that they aren’t interested in reading by themselves, so they can sit around and talk about them afterwards. Anyone can add something to a wikipedia entry, it takes more to write something significant on a topic, to have enough overview to be more than tiny snippets. Yes, anyone can contribute to “open source” programs, but most can’t.

    “I don’t like technology stuff, but I sure like the social experience at the maker space”.

    It’s not unlike Cyril Kornbluth’s short story “Marching Morons”, where a small percentage are doing the work while the mass thinks they are the ones doing it.

    The “maker movement” wants to be a movement, so it ignores what came before. When a “mini maker fair” started here, it was started by someone new to it all, and they certainly didn’t make a point of finding the local clubs related to technical hobbies, which could have been a foundation. So “collaboration” is limited to “group building’. Is this really different from when non-technical people suddenly “like you” because they think you can fix something of theirs?

    Michael

  13. Nice article. I, like others, tend not so much to be introverted as much as I commonly find myself in the company of others who don’t share my passion for technology. If you’re in a group of people and you have no common interests, then the discussion tends to be limited to basic common experiences. You talk about the weather and whatever the latest big thing that was in the news. It’s almost pointless.

    One interesting change to this has been the use of meetup groups. I’ve met a bunch of people that I would not have otherwise met that actually do have common interests. If you throw together a bunch of sysadmins which all work at different employers, then you really start to see some interesting knowledge sharing. The same could be applied for electronics engineers or software people (though their employers may disagree).

    I’m not specifically talking about meetup.com here. In my community, there are many special interest groups which don’t use that site and they all find some way to get the word out to draw members. Sometimes it’s not just about hackerspaces but it could be about anything topic where you really have an interest.

    BTW – I’m 20+ days late in adding this comment because I had to login to wordpress. I liked the non-wordpress.com days better.

  14. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY THIS PEOPLE I PERSONALLY HAVE TRIED TO HIRE SOME OF THESE SO CALLED HACKERS INCLUDING.
    DATABASE LORD AND NONE HAS BEEN ABLE TO HELP ME,
    I WAS READING ABOUT THE ASHELY MADISON HACK AND FOUND THAT
    THE IMPACT TEAM DID THAT SO I TOOK TO FIND A MEMBER OF THE TEAM TO HELP ME WITH MY SCHOOL GRADES,
    I MET [“russian” hacker spam e-mail redacted] SHE IS A MEMBER OF THE IMPACT TEAM AND AUTHENTIC WHEN IT COMES TO HACKING,
    I FOUND HER ON TIME AND MADE THE LIST OF GRADUATES THIS YEAR

    [Ed: I had to let this one through. It’s just too funny.]

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