The hackerspace (also referred to as makerspace, hackspace, or hacklab) concept is simple and as such it can take many forms. Give people tools, space and community and you get a flourishing of new ideas, creation and action-based projects. These are empowering spaces within which individuals build things they are passionate about in an environment of collaboration and open learning. Hacker/makerspaces are also highly conducive to entrepreneurship (the Makerbot — a 3D printer from the New York hackerspace NYC Resistor — is perhaps the most well-known of hackerspace-generated innovations) while encouraging community and personal growth. In the United States, hacker/makerspaces are often membership driven, yet are also frequently open to the public. Makerspaces typically have regular classes that range from programming, cross-stitching and backyard welding taught by people who enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.
These spaces serve as local repositories of science, technology, engineering, art and math. They engage their local communities in relentless passion-based teaching and practical workshop events. Makerspaces exist as an embodiment of the human exploratory and entrepreneurial spirit and enshrine curiosity and learning as core values. Above all, maker spaces and the maker movement empower their participants in new ways. Makers are already breaking down the barriers between traditional entrepreneurship, manufacturing, education, technological innovation, and community service.
Important to a makerspace is the documentation and sharing of projects and open source practices. Many spaces have regular “show and tells” to facilitate this amongst their community, and often post online in a blog or through twitter to share with the global makerspace community. Today, cross maker space collaboration is really taking off as can be seen in the Space program of the Hacker Scene which is a call to develop satellite communication systems collaboratively developed in response to the end of the NASA Space Shuttle Program.
Over the last few years global maker spaces have grown exponentially, going from about 50 in 2009 to nearly 1000 in 2011. This trend is continuing to the betterment of the people and their societies through engaging people with technology and community.
For a Twitter list of 111 spaces check: http://twitter.com/#!/HSNOTTS/hacker-maker-spaces
For an extensive directory of hackerspaces check out hackerspaces.org!