Engine of More: Order Vs Effort
“I feel like a lot of the real challenges for hackerspaces are about how much order you can get out of the available effort.”
A friend of mine commented this to me after reading the 5S post. I absolutely agree, to me this is the key challenge of a Hackerspace. Order vs Effort. In this post, I intend to explore the idea.
To some extent this suggests that disordered hackerspaces might favour some individuals who do not need much order in their working environment, or feel a level of control over the order due to their privilege or outlook.
I want to make a bold statement, but don’t exactly know how to frame it, and further more how to prove it, so I’ll put forward the following hypothesis. Disordered spaces are not inclusive spaces.
Disordered spaces are not inclusive spaces.
What makes me say this? I feel that if you are a self-empowered person or someone who doesn’t need much external validation, is fairly self-assured. For each person this can vary from situation to situation. I generally feel quite confident and relatively empowered when I enter, near enough any hacker or maker space I’ve been too. I know whats going on and feel that I belong in the space, that is my perception based on my experience, my privilege and my own world view etc.
However, when I go into a Superdry store, I simply feel alienated, all of the prices are crazy and their XL doesn’t fit me by several sizes, I’m not wanted there, in SuperDry I am marginalised, I regret it every-time I go in. I suspect that Superdry would rather that larger people didn’t wear their clothing but its difficult to say if this is a deliberate policy, a sort of dark-pattern if you will.
The whole Superdry thing is fine. They want to be a premium brand of high quality clothing for fashion conscious people who wish to belong to that particular tribe. The tribe that is willing to spend £120 on a hoodie and can fit in a medium marked as extra large. They are no doubt much more careful of their physical appearance and age appropriateness than me, who merely wishes he was slimmer, cooler and younger. If on the other hand Superdry was touting some “clothing for all, anti-bullying, anti-fat-shaming, economical choice” agenda, then shame on them. They aren’t as far as I’ve been able to find.
In a Hackerspace though, we often claim it IS for everyone, but take very little time to think or say what that really means. What dark-patterns do we inadvertently create in the Hackerspace environment? One behaviour pattern I have seen in a Hackerspace involves the reporting of broken tools. The policy for the space in question was that if a tool was damaged or broken or found not working etc, that the person who found it would email the group and report the issue. On one occasion someone managed to damage the bandsaw. They bravely emailed the group, the result? A load of grief on the mailing group list for not using the saw properly, accusations, swearing and ridicule. The Pavlovian effect of this? Who’s going to report they broke a tool after witnessing what happens?
I suppose that ultimately what I am trying to achieve in my writing (other than the practice of writing and a body of stuff to turn into a book) is a reference that will help the would-be-founder of a new space anticipate issues and choose another route forwards that might avoid some of them. Alternatively perhaps I am creating a provocative work, that could ignite a discussion, identify if what I am hypothesising is an issue in some spaces and cause some new thinking that is beyond my imagination.
I’d appreciate any thoughts or commentary and suggestion you might have on the notion that disorder in a space causes exclusion? Try to remember, if you are already engaging with a hackerspace, no matter how un-chaotic, then you are able to tolerate the disorder, I’d love to hear from folks who might have excluded themselves from a space too.
today’s thumbnail is the spares bins at Ikea.