Shared Machine Shops, Netherlands, 1999-2011

by Maxigas, UOC/IN3

Royal Geographical Society, 2015, Exeter

Introduction

Research context

  • Dissertation on European Hackerspaces
  • Historically informed ethnography
  • Boltanski & Chiapello: critique/recuperation
  • Application to socio-technological cycles
  • Unfinished artefacts and architectures
  • 2 / 20 / 2000 European hackerspaces studied

Shared machine shops

Material infrastructures for peer production.

Medialabs, innovation labs, co-working spaces, Men’s Sheds, makerspaces, hackerspaces, hacklabs, technology hubs, incubators, accelerators, telecentres, telehouses, etc.

Journal of Peer Production #5

Hacklabs vs. hackerspaces

Hacklabs

Activity:

  • Est. 1995 (Catania), proliferated around 1999, now decline
  • Embedded in social movements
  • Recycled computers, free software, “community” wireless…

Spaces:

  • Squats
  • Occupied social centres
  • Critique of private property (general)
Registration dates of hacklab domains from hacklabs.org, based on the whois database.
Registration dates of hacklab domains from hacklabs.org, based on the whois database.
Kaos+ by Autistici/Inventati, 10 years of hacking
Kaos+ by Autistici/Inventati, 10 years of hacking

Hackerspaces

Activity:

  • Est. 1994 (c-base), proliferated around 2007, now surpassed
  • Isolated from social movements
  • Open hardware, 3D printing, drones, diybio…

Spaces:

  • Postindustrial compounds
  • Cheap rents raised through membership fees
  • Critique of intellectual property (particular)
Registration dates of hackerspace domains from hackerspaces.org, based on the whois database.
Registration dates of hackerspace domains from hackerspaces.org, based on the whois database.
c-book by Mirko ‘macro’ Fichtner, 20 years of hacking
c-book by Mirko ‘macro’ Fichtner, 20 years of hacking

Cases

Dutch cities

Utrecht:

  • PUSCII hacklab (1999-2007)
  • Randomdata hackerspace (anno 2009)

Amsterdam:

  • ASCII hacklab (1999-2006)
  • TechInc hackerspace (anno 2011)

PUSCII hacklab

ASCII hacklab

Randomdata hackerspace

Techinc hackerspace

What changed?

The balance of power

Social movements

From autonomous movement to squatting movement:

  • Decline since the 1970s
  • Revolution → alt. forms of life → resources
  • Ideological poverty
  • Reactive strategies
  • Tactics became identity

Urban policies

From social conflict to Dutch pragmatism:

  • Anti-squatting agencies
  • Squatting illegalised / legalised
  • Creative cities (“broedplaats”)
  • Postindustrial revitalisation
  • Movement as delivering services
  • Student housing?

SQEK books

Dadusc & Dee 2015

Amsterdam City Council’s Broeadplaatsen (Breeding Places) policy allocated €41 million for subsidising between 1400 and 2000 living/working spaces for artists and cultural entrepreneurs. Many evictions were halted and some squats were legalised and turned into cultural centres. … [T]his policy led to the absorption of parts of the movement into providers of cultural services, which contributed to the image of Amsterdam as a ’creative city’ and ’helped to co-opt and to prevent resistance against policies that seek to promote gentrification’.

Technological landscape

Gentrification of hacking:

  • Middle class influx
  • Software → Hardware
  • DIY → consumers
  • More capital intensive

Conclusions

Changing conditions

  • Occupation → Critique of private property.

  • Rent → Limited to the critique of intellectual property.

Recuperation

  • Institutionalisation;
  • rationalisation;
  • commodification.

Political technology vs. technological politics

PT: developing technology to achieve wider political goals of a holistic social movement.

TP: making a social movement to advance the particular interests of a group.

Still, both question the neutrality of technology.

Critique of the sharing economy

  • Services vs. conflicts
  • New services do not depend on new markets
  • Peer production answers to and produce social conflicts
  • Provision depends on political and institutional context
  • Sharing economy represents a new cycle of recuperation

Questions?

maxigas@anargeek.net