The ‘Hacker’ Ethic and the Maker Spirit: The ‘Hackerspace’ Experience in the San Francisco Bay Area


Based on an article in Futuribles 410 by Michel Lallement

Drawing on a field study carried out in the ‘hackerspaces’ of California, Michel Lallement shows how different communities gather in spaces dedicated to ‘making things’ and even to ‘making things together’-new spaces of formal or informal work where individuals develop various personal or occupational projects.

The ‘hackerspaces’ of the San Francisco Bay Area, which the present article examines, belong to that new family of organizations whose main common feature is to promote the ‘do-it-yourself’ and ‘do-it-with-others’ spirit. Open to anyone, they bring together individuals who wish to carry out fabrication projects of multiple kinds (coding, electronics, sewing…). As places located in physical space, ‘Hackerspaces’ make available to their regular members-and to those who visit on a one-off basis-a set of resources that are both material (machines, tools, raw materials etc.), intellectual (workshops and courses), digital (wi-fi, virtual discussion platforms and forums) and social (contacts, opportunities for collaboration, social gatherings etc.).

Hackers and Hackerspaces-how are they defined?

Almost all the members are proud to declare themselves ‘hackers’-not in the debased sense of those who ‘hack into computer systems’ (properly known...