Hackerspace Architect: People Like Us
In the work of Seth Godin, there is an often repeated idea. “People like us, do things like this.” The expression relates to the idea that rather than seeking the mythical “mass market”, one should seek the “Smallest viable audience.”
Let’s break this idea down a bit. What do we mean when we say the mass market? I suppose we are talking about the sort of interest that is garnered by the likes of Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, McDonalds and Sky TV. If we are choosing who to focus our product (or hackerspace) on, then why not choose EVERYONE that is most people. Yes of course, the idea that a mass market really exists is something of a myth. Most people do not drink coffee at Starbuck. Most people do not eat at McDonalds every week. Most people have never used an iPhone. This is especially true when we take this in the context of the whole world, though that comparison isn’t especially useful. But perhaps instead pull a random 100 people across a full range of ages and demographics even just from your own neighbourhood, its likely that the number of people experiencing the mass market products or places listed above might not be as many as you think. On the other hand, take your own peer group, the chances are much more likely that you do enjoy the same places and things. People like us, do things like this.
So when it comes to a hackerspace you may well feel like you’ve offered the space to most people, everyone, the mass market, but trying to make a mass market hackerspace is probably impossible. Instead make it for “people like us, who do things like this.”
It’s important to note that by “people like us” I do not mean people who look like us or even people who share all the same world view, religious stance, gender or sexuality or even political ideals. However they will have a shared world view in terms of the idea of sharing a workspace and making things with tools. The ability to find common ground around a particular aspect of ones world-view whilst accepting that we have differences and diversity in other areas is essential for a truly inclusive space.
You can read more about Seth’s idea here. https://seths.blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2017-people-like-us.pdf
Today’s thumbnail is an “airless blower” from “the assett strippers” exhibit at Tate Britain by Mike Nelson.