There has been a lot of unloved history of the hackerspace initiatives. The publication of MAKE magazine (c. 2005) spawned a renewed interest in making spaces for everyday people to come together and build things.
Here’s a reading list for you country bumpkins who’ve been out of the loop vis. being aware of the various independents and misfits of our current socio-economic paradigm (in order of publication):
- The Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand, 1968, 1994.
- Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Steven Levy, 1984.
- Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Douglas Copeland, 1991
- The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Eric Raymond, 1999
- The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida, 2002
- The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, Rob Hopkins, 2008
- The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, Richard Heinberg, 2011
- The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, Kevin Carson, in draft.
These are some highlights. An important tangent to this are the various failed attempts to create youth community centers. What this hackerspace initiative adds to these past activities is a concrete, sustainable economic model for the general public to participate and a vision that can scale upwards to re-vamp the entire socio-economic arena -- interacting with education, business, and government. It provides a high-energy, high-motile space with things to do, people to learn from, a showcase for talent, and arena for selling things you build -- capitalizing the gains of recent technology for connecting with each other and sharing ideas.