A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, hackspace or makerspace) is a community-operated, often not for profit (501(c)(3) in the United States), work space where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate.[1] Hackerspaces are comparable to other community-operated spaces with similar aims and mechanisms such as Fab Lab, men's sheds, and commercial for-profit companies such as TechShop.


Many hackerspaces support the free software movement.

In general, hackerspaces function as centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They usually also offer social activities for their members, such as game nights and parties. 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.[2]

Many hackerspaces participate in the use and development of free software, open hardware, and alternative media. They are often physically located in infoshops, social centers, adult education centers, public schools, public libraries, or on university campuses, but may relocate to industrial or warehouse when they need more room.

Hackerspaces with open membership became common throughout Germany in the 1990s in the orbit of the German Chaos Computer Club (CCC), with the c-base being probably an example. The concept, however, was limited to less than a dozen s within Germany, and did not spread beyond borders at first. Most likely this was because initial founding costs were prohibitive for small groups without the support of a large organization like the CCC.

In 2006, Paul Bohm came up with a fundraising strategy based on the Street Performer Protocol to build Metalab in Vienna, Austria, and became its founding director. In 2007, he and others started Hackerspaces.org, a wiki-based website that maintains a list of many hackerspaces and documents patterns on how to start and run them. As of September 2015, the community list included 1967 hackerspaces with 1199 active sites and 354 planned sites.[3]

The advent of crowdfunding and Kickstarter has put the tools required to build hackerspaces within reach of an even wider audience. Those tools are for example used by Bilal Ghalib, who had previously worked on a hackerspace documentary, and others to bring the hackerspace concept to the Middle East.[4]

Naomi Wu demonstrating how to configure a Raspberry Pi 2

Most recent studies of hackerspace in China — where Internet access is heavily censored — suggest that new businesses and organized tech conferences there serve to intervene in the status quo "from within". The first hackerspace in China, Xinchejian,[5] opened in Shanghai in 2010. Thereafter a network of hackerspaces emerged, nourishing an emerging maker culture. By designing open technologies and developing new businesses, Chinese makers make use of the system, make fun of it, altering it and provoking it. DIY makers often bring and align contradictory ideas together, such as copycat and open source, manufacturing and DIY, individual empowerment and collective change. In doing so, they craft a subject position beyond the common rhetoric that Chinese citizens lack creativity. As a site of individual empowerment, hackerspace and DIY making enable people to remake the very societal norms and material infrastructures that undergird their work and livelihood.[6]


An artist gives a tour of one of the two machine shops in Xanadu, a makerspace under the aegis of Burning Man (Idaho Burners Alliance) in Boise which is open to all.
Makerspace layout

The specific tools and resources available at hackerspaces vary from place to place. They typically provide for members to work on their individual projects, or to collaborate on group projects with other members. Hackerspaces may also operate computer tool lending libraries,[7] or physical tool lending libraries, up to and including creative sex toys in some instances.[8]

The building or facility the hackerspace occupies provides physical infrastructure that members need to complete their projects. In addition to, most hackerspaces provide electrical power, computer servers, and networking with Internet connectivity. Well-equipped hackerspaces may provide machine tools, sewing, crafting, art fabrication, audio equipment, video projectors, game consoles, electronic instrumentation (such as oscilloscopes and signal generators), electronic components and raw materials for hacking, and various other tools for electronics fabrication and creating things.[9] Specialized large-format printers, 3D printers, laser cutters, industrial sewing machines or water jet cutters may be available for members to use. Some hackerspaces provide food storage and food preparation equipment, and may teach courses in basic or advanced cooking.


Billboard promoting makerspaces

The individual character of a hackerspace is determined by its members. Many hackerspaces are governed by elected boards selected by active members in good standing. Elected officers may serve predetermined terms, and help direct decisionmaking with regards to purchasing new equipment, recruiting new members, formulating policy, conforming to safety requirements, and other administrative issues.

Membership fees are usually the main income of a hackerspace, but some also accept external sponsors. Some hackerspaces in the US have 501(c)3 status (or the equivalent in their jurisdiction), while others have chosen to forgo tax exempt status.[10] University-affiliated hackerspaces often do not charge an explicit fee, but are generally limited to students, staff, or alumni, although visiting guests from other hackerspaces are usually welcome. Some hackerspaces accept volunteer labor in lieu of membership fees, especially from financially limited participants. In addition, some hackerspaces earn income from sponsoring and staffing high-tech flea markets, where members of the general public may buy and sell new and used equipment and supplies.

There is a loose, informal tradition at many hackerspaces of welcoming visitors from other similar organizations, whether across town or internationally. Free exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge are encouraged, especially at periodic gatherings sometimes called "build nights" or "open house" days.

Hackerspaces and makerspaces are increasingly being included as learning s in schools, learning commons, and other educational facilities.


Hackerspaces are widely defined on hackerspaces.org as “community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects”. The exact functioning of the varies from place to place and is determined by its members and while there is no blueprint or set of guidelines to create a hackerspace, they generally follow a “hacker ethic”,[11] which “include freedom, in the sense of autonomy as well as of free access and circulation of information; distrust of authority, that is, opposing the traditional, industrial top-down style of organization; embracing the concept of learning by doing and peer-to-peer learning processes as opposed to formal modes of learning; sharing, solidarity and cooperation”.[12]


Hackerspaces can run into difficulties with building codes or other planning regulations, which may not be designed to handle their scope of activities. For example, a new hackerspace in Nashua, New Hampshire was shut down by the city after an inspection in 2011. The main issues involved ventilation of heat and toxic fumes; the space was reopened after improvements were made to the building.[13]

The difficulties with opening hackerspaces and makerspaces within non-profit organizations, such as schools and public libraries include cost, liability, and availability of personnel.[14]

Many hackerspaces struggle to attract diverse users. One national study showed makerspace users were 81% male.[15] Although many women participate in some form of making, 41% have backgrounds that are in the realms of arts, crafts and design, which are not taken as seriously in maker culture[citation needed]. Because makerspaces are most often dominated by male makers, 65% of whom have physical science or engineering backgrounds, women with more creative backgrounds tend to feel unwelcome. Makers with less technical backgrounds employ a different style of working, taking time to sketch and think. To more technically proficient makers this is seen as a weakness and not just a different style of working.[16] That's especially problematic in light of these spaces' advertised values of Openness, Accessibility, and Community.

Notable hackerspaces

Over the years, many hackerspaces have grown significantly in membership, operational budgets, and local media attention. Many have also helped establish other hackerspaces in nearby locations.

  • c-base (1981)[18] from Berlin is recognized as one of the first independent, stand-alone hackerspaces in the world, not affiliated with a school, university, or company. Wired writes that "European groups, particularly in Germany, have a long tradition of this kind of activity".[19] Another known German hackerspace is RaumZeitLabor, organizer of Trollcon.[20]
  • The Geek Group, formed in 1994, is a budding nonprofit hackerspace in Grand Rapids, Michigan that has a large following and internet presence. There are various chapters around the United States. Their main focus has been as an opensource hackerspace to increase STEM education accessibility and one day become an accredited institution of higher education.
  • In 1997/98 The Lane Cove Community Men's Shed in Australia was set up to provide a substitute for "shedless blokes". Initial establishment was assisted with a Commonwealth grant from the Department of Health & Aged Services under the "Healthy Seniors Grant Programme
  • Metalab, founded in 2006, is generally considered to have pioneered the funding principles that enabled rapid spread of the concept.[21]
  • TechShop was the first chain of commercial hackerspaces. It was launched in October 2006. As of October 2012, there were six TechShop locations in the US: three in California and one each in North Carolina, Michigan, and Texas, the last a partnership with the Lowe's home improvement chain.
  • In August 2007, a group of North American hackers visited Europe "to get a sense for the potential of European 'hacker s'", and upon their return, the groups NYC Resistor and HacDC were set up in late 2007, with Noisebridge following in fall 2008.[19][22]
  • Tokyo HackerSpace was initiated in 2009.[23] Safecast.org (a open data network for ionizing radiation monitoring) was formed around prototyping efforts there following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[24]
  • In summer 2008, the first Taiwanese hackerspace Openlab.Taipei was organised and started s. In 2009, the community was physically located in Treasure Hill in Taipei, Taiwan. Based on digital art, Arduino, and other free software, the followed FLOSS(Free、Libre、Open Source Software) rules and had Arduino s on every Wednesday until today.[25]
  • Dallas Makerspace (DMS) was founded by members of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG) in 2010.[26][27] As of summer of 2017, it has a paying membership base of 1500, "making it one of the largest, if not the largest, nonprofit, volunteer-run makerspaces in the country" according to Dallas Morning News.[26]
  • The first Chinese hackerspace Xinchejian was established in Shanghai in the fall of 2010. Thereafter hackerspaces have grown in numerous cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, Ningbo, Hangzhou and Guangzhou. Chinese makers became internationally visible when the first Maker Carnival was hosted in Beijing in 2012.[28]
  • Columbus Idea Foundry moved into a 65,000-square-foot factory in Columbus Ohio on May 22, 2014.[29] They offer classes, host events, and have 66,000 pounds of tools.[30] By one account, it is "the country's largest such space."[31]
  • Artisan's Asylum (Somerville, Massachusetts), was once believed to be the largest makerspace in the world.[32] While bigger spaces e.g. Columbus Idea Foundry now exist, the Asylum remains a model sustainable makerspace model.[33]

Variations on Hackerspaces

A lot of places share values similar to those purported by hackspaces, whether or not they use that nomenclature. A few examples follow:

Public Library Hackerspaces

Public Libraries have long been a place to share resources for learning. Lately some have reconsidered their roles to include providing resources for hacking and making. Those generally call themselves Library makerspaces. For example, Chattanooga's 4th floor may have been the first use of a library as laboratory and playground for its community. The User Experience (UX) is another public laboratory and educational facility.[34][35] Or according to Forbes, the first public library to open a MakerSpace is the Fayetteville Free Library.[36]

Men's Sheds

There are over 1,000 active men's sheds in Australia, Scotland, England, Ireland, Finland, and Greece, as of 2012.[37] Instead of seeing themselves as "hackers" they describe themselves as "shedders" and their activities as "shedding". The Men's Sheds Movement is many ways parallel hackerspaces in their aims; although open to anyone regardless of age or gender, they tend to advertise themselves as "men in sheds". In some ways they can be seen as the flip side of working men's clubs, as their community is drawn from a similar age group and their original aims are similar: to provide recreation and education for working class men and their families.

Feminist Hackerspaces

In response to the misogyny shown by the brogrammer culture that sees hackerspaces as 'male', Seattle Attic was founded in the summer of 2013, as the first Feminist Hackerspace in the United States.[38][39] They were soon followed by Double Union, in San Francisco.[40] Their founding came as a result of The Ada Initiative, and their AdaCamp conferences. Which has also lead to the formation of FouFem in Montreal, the Mz Baltazar’s Laboratory, a start-up organization and feminist hackspace in Vienna, the Anarchafeminist Hackerhive in San Francisco, the Hacktory in Philadelphia and the Miss Despionas in Tasmania, Australia,[41] and myriad others.

Public School Maker/Hackerspaces

Some public schools in the US now also include hackerspaces. The first high school to open a true MakerSpace was in Sebastopol, California,[when?][citation needed] and now even middle schools are starting to follow the trend. Fore example, White Hill Middle school in Fairfax, California has now opened up their own MakerSpace with a class called "Makers and Hackers".[42]

Fab Labs

Fab labs are spaces (part of a network initiated by MIT's center for bits and atoms) whose goal is to enable people to "make (almost) anything." They focus heavily on digital fabrication tools.

Community Arts Spaces

Many community art spaces share values with hackerspaces. Some, like AS220 and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts have embraced Fab lab structures to expand the range of media represented in their spaces to include digital fabrication tools.

University Maker/Hackerspaces

Universities around the world have at different rates embraced educational possibilities of these spaces. MIT has pioneered the Fab lab movement and implementation of similar spaces in universities around the world. Non-Fab Lab associated Maker and Hackerspaces are also common. Wheaton College is one school pioneering new Hacker and Maker curriculums and spaces,[43][44] as is Yale University with spaces like its "CEID."[45] Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering has also pioneered Makerist and Hacker curriculum to great success. Broader networks for these hacker-oriented schools have arisen, including MakeSchools, out of CMU[46] and the Higher Education Makerspace Initiative (a partnership that includes MIT, Yale, and Olin)[47]


Makerspaces and Hackerspaces as terms are often conflated, and the difference between them, or if in fact there even is a difference, is debated.

Tool Library

Tool libraries generally don't have shared space for making or hacking things, but are instead serve as a repository of tools people can borrow for use in their own respective spaces.

Repair Cafe

Repair cafés are places where people can come together to teach and learn how to fix things.

Music Hackerspaces

A few hackerspaces exist that focus exclusively on music such as Music Hackspace (London), Music Hackspace Dublin, CPH Music Maker Space (Copenhagen), Radiona (Zagreb).

Bicycle Coops

Bicycle cooperatives are places where people can build or fix bicycles.

See also


  1. ^ Alan Henry. "How To Find And Get Involved With A Hackerspace". lifehacker.com.au. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Saini, Angela (June 19, 2009). "DIY Gadgetry". BBC News. 
  3. ^ Hackerspaces.org (n.d.). "List of Hacker s". Hackerspaces. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  4. ^ Ghalib, Bilal (September 1, 2012). "Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops". 'Kickstarter. Retrieved September 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ "In China, Lessons of a 'Hackerspace'". 
  6. ^ Lindtner, Silvia (2014), "Hackerspaces and the Internet of Things in China: How makers are reinventing industrial production, innovation, and the self", China Information 28(2): 145-167.
  7. ^ Williams, Wyatt (November 30, 2009). "Freeside Atlanta makes for local hackers". Creative Loafing. 
  8. ^ Campbell, Hayley (2017-12-10). "Better loving through technology: a day at the sex-toy hackathon Sound-controlled vibrators, 3D-printed clitorises and 'Michael Gove' as a safe word: coders and inventors try to find the future of sex in south London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-05. 
  9. ^ Roush, Wade (May 22, 2009). "People Doing Strange Things With Soldering Irons: A Visit to Hackerspace". Xconomy.com. 
  10. ^ "About". Pumpinstationone.org. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  11. ^ Cameron Guthrie (2014): Empowering the hacker in us: a comparison of fab lab and hackerspace ecosystems. Paper presented in: 5th LAEMOS (Latin American and European on Organization Studies) Colloquium, Havana Cuba, 2‐5 April 2014
  12. ^ Kostakis, V.; Niaros, V.; Giotitsas, C. (2014): Production and governance in hackerspaces: A manifestation of Commons-based peer production in the physical realm?. Published in:International Journal of Cultural Studies
  13. ^ "MakeIt Labs, the new 'hackerspace' in Nashua, closed by the city for permits, other issues". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Educause. "7 Things You Should Know About Maker s" (PDF). Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Bean, Farmer, Kerr, Vanessa, Nicole, Barbara (2015). "An exploration of women's engagement in Makerspaces". Gifted and Talented International. 30: 61–67 – via Taylor & Francis. 
  16. ^ Faulkner, Susan (2014). "Women Who Make: Undercounted as Makers and Underwhelmed by Makerspaces". The World of Making. 47: 30–31 – via IEEE. 
  17. ^ "List of Hacker s - HackerspaceWiki". Hackerspaces.org. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  18. ^ "newspaper clipping of founding of the CCC's Hackerspace" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 11, 2007. Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  19. ^ a b Borland, John (August 11, 2007). ""Hacker " movement sought for U.S." Wired. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Trollcon 2012". Heise.de. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  21. ^ Brugh, Willow (January 16, 2012). "Metalab, Extroverted Viennese Hackerspace". MAKE. 
  22. ^ Tweney, Dylan (March 29, 2009). "DIY Freaks Flock to 'Hacker s' Worldwide". Wired. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  23. ^ "About". Tokyo HackerSpace. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  24. ^ "History » Safecast". Blog.safecast.org. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  25. ^ 鄭, 鴻旗 (June 26, 2014). "不要想,做就對了!". Make 國際中文版 vol.12. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Bustillos, Esteban. "Creators find camaraderie — and lifelong learning — at the Dallas Makerspace". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  27. ^ Rainwater, Steve. "DMS Insights". Dallas Personal Robotics Group. 
  28. ^ Lindtner, Silvia (2014), "Hackerspaces and the Internet of Things in China: How makers are reinventing industrial production, innovation, and the self," China Information 28(2): 145-167.
  29. ^ "Columbus Idea Foundry becomes a work in progress". The Columbus Dispatch. November 2, 2014. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  30. ^ "Columbus Idea Foundry". Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  31. ^ Thompson, Derek. "A World Without Work". theatlantic.com. 
  32. ^ Flaherty, Joseph. "Building Stompy the Giant Robot Inside the World's Biggest Hackerspace". wired.com. 
  33. ^ "In Somerville and Lowell, do-it-yourselfers making it work - The Boston Globe". bostonglobe.com. 
  34. ^ "4th Floor". chattlibrary.org. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  35. ^ "Making Room for Innovation". Library Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  36. ^ "First Public Library to Create a Maker Space". Forbes. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  37. ^ "What is a Men's Shed". MensShed.org. Retrieved October 23, 2012. 
  38. ^ Toupin, Sophie. "Feminist Hackerspaces: The Synthesis of Feminist and Hacker Cultures". Journal of Peer Production. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  39. ^ Henry, Liz. "The Rise of Feminist Hackerspaces and How to Make Your Own". Model View Culture. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  40. ^ "Double Union". Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  41. ^ Toupin, Sophie. "Feminist Hackerspaces as Safer s?". Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  42. ^ "White Hill Robotics". Retrieved 31 October 2013. 
  43. ^ "IMAGINE Network - Wheaton College Massachusetts". Wheaton College Massachusetts. Retrieved 2018-01-05. 
  44. ^ "Making matters - Wheaton College Massachusetts". Wheaton College Massachusetts. Retrieved 2018-01-05. 
  45. ^ "CEID Homepage". Yale CEID. Retrieved 2018-01-05. 
  46. ^ "MakeSchools - Home of the Higher Ed Maker Alliance". make.xsead.cmu.edu. Retrieved 2018-01-05. 
  47. ^ "Higher Education Makerspaces Initiative - HEMI Higher Education Makerspaces Initiative - HEMI". hemi.mit.edu. Retrieved 2018-01-05. 

External links

External video
[1] The Boisean node of the Idaho Burners Alliance