Finances Update

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Russ Garrett

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Apr 7, 2011, 7:22:47 PM4/7/11
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No news is good news. In the last month, we've made £6,192.63 revenue:

Subscriptions: £4,659
Server Sales: £954
Pledges: £429
Misc Donations: £151

This gives us a budget surplus of ~£2k, and, although pledges and
server sales aren't regular income, we have a solid surplus on
subscriptions alone now. I've revised our monthly budget up to
£4,360/month:

http://wiki.hackspace.org.uk/wiki/Budget#Current_Monthly_Budget

The remaining unknowns are business rates and the exact magnitude of
the electricity bills. Both of these are expected to firm up in the
next month. We're also spending a substantial amount on sundry
components and equipment. I upped the budget for that £150 but we
spent ~£320 on it this month (much of it for yet more shelves/boxes).

A reminder, because people keep asking me if we can expand further
now... We won't be upping our rent commitment until we have at least 3
months' rent in the bank. That's £11,800, and our current balance is
currently around £4,000.

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

Chris Foote (Spike)

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Apr 7, 2011, 11:28:40 PM4/7/11
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Thanks Russ!

I really appreciate all the hard work that goes to make this all work!

Spike

Dirk-Willem van Gulik

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Apr 8, 2011, 2:51:04 AM4/8/11
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That is good news. And also a big thanks for all the hard work done behind the scenes to make the hackspace work!

Dw.

Robert Leverington

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Apr 8, 2011, 3:39:10 AM4/8/11
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At any rate, in order to expand we will almost certainly have to look
away from Cremer Business Centre as both the adjacent units are
occupied. This takes a huge amount of effort, and based on the last
time we did this there isn't so many premises that are suitable for us.

I think in order to justify moving out of Cremer Street we would also
have to go somewhere more central, so will easily end up paying more per
square foot that we do right now. (We would also likely have to have a
budget for the build-out, we were very lucky getting somewhere that had
good internal walls and fittings.)

Do we have any long term goals/plans? Perhaps this is something we
should work on, as there are many different ideas and it would give us
something to work towards. What do we want to do in the next 6 months/
12 months/24 months?

Robert

Russ Garrett

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Apr 8, 2011, 4:09:55 AM4/8/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Robert Leverington
I agree with you that it's quite unlikely that we will be able to
expand within Cremer Street again.

On 8 April 2011 08:39, Robert Leverington <rob...@rhl.me.uk> wrote:
> Do we have any long term goals/plans?  Perhaps this is something we
> should work on, as there are many different ideas and it would give us
> something to work towards.  What do we want to do in the next 6 months/
> 12 months/24 months?

Well, the future of the Hackspace is ultimately driven by how much
money we have. In my opinion, we should keep growing as long as our
membership does. We benefit quite significantly from economies of
scale in costs, and we don't really want to discourage people from
coming if the space is too busy.

I am looking at the charity route again. It seems like one of the less
tangible benefits of being a charity is that people are more willing
to give you grants. Looking at where we are compared with where we
were a year ago, it seems like our aims coincide much closer with what
would be considered charitable. So this is an option I'm pondering.

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

Sam Cook

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Apr 8, 2011, 6:56:20 AM4/8/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Russ Garrett, Robert Leverington
Thanks for the update, Russ, and all the hard work you've been doing. 

I know this is not a popular subject but would it be worth looking at using some of our consumables budget to cover things like screws, nails, sand paper, resistors, caps, etc. These are parts that pretty much anyone who uses the space for anything other than programming will use and it seems sensible to keep them well stocked; it also means that instead of having access to what people have left behind from project X we can get kits that include a selection of parts...

I don't know how people feel about this but it seems like these may be worth stocking. 

S

Russ Garrett

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Apr 8, 2011, 7:04:54 AM4/8/11
to Sam Cook, london-h...@googlegroups.com
On 8 April 2011 11:56, Sam Cook <sc...@hep.ucl.ac.uk> wrote:
> Thanks for the update, Russ, and all the hard work you've been doing.
> I know this is not a popular subject but would it be worth looking at using
> some of our consumables budget to cover things like screws, nails, sand
> paper, resistors, caps, etc.

Absolutely, the space should be buying these and if someone puts them
on the components page I will order them.

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

phil jones

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Apr 8, 2011, 7:17:53 AM4/8/11
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+1

Sci

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Apr 8, 2011, 8:07:18 AM4/8/11
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Hash: SHA1

I wouldn't have thought relying on grants in the current economy would
be a very sound idea. But loss vs reward; what would be lost in becoming
a charity and what would be gained?

~ Sci

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Sam Cook

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Apr 8, 2011, 8:14:08 AM4/8/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Sci
I wouldn't have thought relying on grants in the current economy would
be a very sound idea. But loss vs reward; what would be lost in becoming
a charity and what would be gained?

I think the idea is to not rely on grants (that is a very bad idea) but to use them more for equipment etc. For example it would be awesome if we could get a grant that would allow us to buy a second mill & lathe combo etc that can be used for wood work. That way the grants help us but we don't rely on them. 

I would agree that we _really_ don't want to use grants to cover things like lease, bills etc but they could be nice for big tools or tool restocks (or buying new tools eg bio hacking stuff, pcb fab stuff etc etc). 

====

On an unrelated topic: what consumables does the space need? I won't be able to get down until at least Tuesday next week so I'm not going to be able to make much of a list for the Russ prior to then. 

I think it would be really useful to keep a solid stock of basic components:
* screws
* nuts & bolts
* Resistors
* Capacitors

I also know we need a new blade for the coping saw...

S

Dave Durant

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Apr 8, 2011, 12:34:43 PM4/8/11
to London Hackspace

If the 'space has a little spare cash how do people feel about a
little dry-ice maker? Good for showing off lazers, cool SFX or people
that want to make it look like project is emitting smoke... :-)

£60 for a CO2 canister : http://goo.gl/lqvlB
£85 for a dry-ice maker : http://goo.gl/swv8Y

People who want to make some pay for the CO2 refills.

Thoughts?

Will Pearson

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Apr 8, 2011, 12:35:43 PM4/8/11
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On Apr 8, 12:22 am, Russ Garrett <r...@garrett.co.uk> wrote:
> A reminder, because people keep asking me if we can expand further
> now...


I think we want to think carefully about how we expand. I think we are
getting some of the negatives of large groups of people at the moment
(tragedies of the commons, not knowing/trusting everyone). IRC, the
mailing list and people being generally excellent help with upping the
dunbar number*, but still things are likely to get worse as we get
bigger, unless we are cunning. I've not thought of a good solution at
the moment.

Will

*http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html

Sam Cook

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Apr 8, 2011, 12:45:27 PM4/8/11
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we do have a smoke machine...

Not that I'm against dry ice but this is the sort of thing that's better as a pledge. 

S

Sam Cook

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Apr 8, 2011, 12:56:18 PM4/8/11
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I think we want to think carefully about how we expand. I think we are
getting some of the negatives of large groups of people at the moment
(tragedies of the commons, not knowing/trusting everyone). IRC, the
mailing list and people being generally excellent help with upping the
dunbar number*, but still things are likely to get worse as we get
bigger, unless we are cunning. I've not thought of a good solution at
the moment.

 Will

*http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html

I think that Dunbar in an of itself is not a limiting factor for us as a) there is no reason why the space can fracture into smaller sub groups: something we're already seeing with the BIOhackers as well as the lockpickers and those who focus on specific topics (eg woodwork, metalwork, electronics. programming etc). As long as communication (and cross fertilization)  between the groups remains reasonable and stable this shouldn't be a problem. 

Equally we have to remember that the number of subscribers who are heavily active only accounts for a small sub-section of the total number of subscribers (the minority in fact depending on how you count 'active'). 

All that being said I think one thing that we may have to consider in order to maintain smooth running is that we may have to be more militant in enforcing certain rules (eg cleaning up after ourselves, event/room booking, ditching large items etc). 

I think being aware of things like Dunbar's number is worthwhile but we have to be careful as to how it's applied. For example later in the article there is heavy discussion on sub groups and things. IIRC 150 is not a hard limit on group size just a limit on how many people you are liable to work with within a group, there is research that suggests one of the driving factors behind language is its ability to confer trust thus side stepping Dunbar's number (it acts not only as fast social grooming but also a method by which groups can groom each other and confer trust etc). 

If I have time (and people are interested) I may go and try and find a link.

S

Martin Dittus

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Apr 8, 2011, 1:16:54 PM4/8/11
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Well said, both of you.

One way in which a Dunbar limit becomes a real practical hindrance is the spread of information. Not needed if we don't change the rules, but necessary when we suddenly encounter new situations (e.g. realising that we need to stop people from just bringing unannounced random stuff; or starting new practises, like inviting kids to the space.)

This is also something where a bit of "discipline" may go a long way; Robert's newsletter is definitely a good start, and I invite you all to support his efforts. Mailing list etiquette is also a factor here; e.g. notice how we're now discussing this topic in a "Finances Update" thread. It's probably also good that we have a multi-tiered communication network (happenstance, relationships and scheduled social events in the space; mailing list, IRC, Twitter account; our calendar; probably more.)

I'd be interested in a forum to discuss these observations. Could be on the list, or as a physical meeting, maybe with a few short "talks"/monologues to provide background information and terminology.

m.

Will Pearson

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Apr 8, 2011, 7:07:48 PM4/8/11
to London Hackspace


On Apr 8, 6:16 pm, Martin Dittus <deks...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Well said, both of you.
>
> One way in which a Dunbar limit becomes a real practical hindrance is the spread of information. Not needed if we don't change the rules, but necessary when we suddenly encounter new situations (e.g. realising that we need to stop people from just bringing unannounced random stuff; or starting new practises, like inviting kids to the space.)
>
> This is also something where a bit of "discipline" may go a long way; Robert's newsletter is definitely a good start, and I invite you all to support his efforts. Mailing list etiquette is also a factor here; e.g. notice how we're now discussing this topic in a "Finances Update" thread. It's probably also good that we have a multi-tiered communication network (happenstance, relationships and scheduled social events in the space; mailing list, IRC, Twitter account; our calendar; probably more.)
>
> I'd be interested in a forum to discuss these observations. Could be on the list, or as a physical meeting, maybe with a few short "talks"/monologues to provide background information and terminology.
>

I'd be happy with on list discussion (I don't fancy organising
anything :P ). In my reply to Sam, I'll go into a bit more detail on
my current thoughts.

Will

Will Pearson

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Apr 8, 2011, 7:40:29 PM4/8/11
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On Apr 8, 5:56 pm, Sam Cook <sam.lindenrat...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > I think we want to think carefully about how we expand. I think we are
> > getting some of the negatives of large groups of people at the moment
> > (tragedies of the commons, not knowing/trusting everyone). IRC, the
> > mailing list and people being generally excellent help with upping the
> > dunbar number*, but still things are likely to get worse as we get
> > bigger, unless we are cunning. I've not thought of a good solution at
> > the moment.
>
<snip>
> I think that Dunbar in an of itself is not a limiting factor for us as a)
> there is no reason why the space can fracture into smaller sub groups:
> something we're already seeing with the BIOhackers as well as the
> lockpickers and those who focus on specific topics (eg woodwork, metalwork,
> electronics. programming etc). As long as communication (and
> cross fertilization)  between the groups remains reasonable and stable this
> shouldn't be a problem.

Communication is not known as one of the stereotypical hackers
stronger points. :) Time spent telling people what is going on is time
not spent actually doing things.

Fracturing creates it's own problems as well. We are going to have to
work very hard to avoid ingroup [1] bias causing more drama. And drama
is bad, because it wears down the people that do the work for the
space, leading to burnout and general space degradation.

>
> Equally we have to remember that the number of subscribers who are heavily
> active only accounts for a small sub-section of the total number of
> subscribers (the minority in fact depending on how you count 'active').

Whatever the number of actives we have I (think I) am seeing a general
decrease in social cohesion as we grow.

> All that being said I think one thing that we may have to consider in order
> to maintain smooth running is that we may have to be more militant in
> enforcing certain rules (eg cleaning up after ourselves, event/room booking,
> ditching large items etc).

How do we do so without creating drama?

> I think being aware of things like Dunbar's number is worthwhile but we have
> to be careful as to how it's applied. For example later in the article there
> is heavy discussion on sub groups and things. IIRC 150 is not a hard limit
> on group size just a limit on how many people you are liable to work with
> within a group, there is research that suggests one of the driving factors
> behind language is its ability to confer trust thus side stepping Dunbar's
> number (it acts not only as fast social grooming but also a method by which
> groups can groom each other and confer trust etc).

The article I linked to put the dunbar number as 150 people is the max
on average you can keep track of (including people outside of the
space). If the social group grows beyond that other means of
maintaining order are needed than pure social bonds. I suspect those
means will make the space less fun. But I may be wrong.

I personally find it hard to keep track of a lot fewer than 150
people, but that just may be me :)

Will

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingroup

Sam Cook

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Apr 8, 2011, 10:06:56 PM4/8/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Will Pearson
Disclaimer: written after a few drinks so certain sections may be later redacted etc due to realising I was pissed and not making sense and/or wrong

TL;DR version: I think we can deal with the issues that will arise due to our increased membership and that we shouldn't use the Dunbar number as an excuse to not seek new members. 

I think that we need to consider the effects of a larger user base for the space but not expect too many of our ideas to be that effective and that we may be better off just steering the resultant group as best we can rather than attempting to plot a hard-and-fast course before the event.

Communication is not known as one of the stereotypical hackers
stronger points. :) Time spent telling people what is going on is time
not spent actually doing things.

Vaguely agreed but I think most hackers are better at communication than the stereotype of us implies; especially when communicating with other hackers. Certainly in order to avoid Dunbar we'll have to find those of us who are good at communicating in order to help maintain social cohesion (I'm looking at you Tom Scott ;) ) 

Fracturing creates it's own problems as well. We are going to have to
work very hard to avoid ingroup [1] bias causing more drama. And drama
is bad, because it wears down the people that do the work for the
space, leading to burnout and general space degradation.

Definitely agreed; I'm not saying fracturing is a good thing but once we get to larger group numbers it rapidly becomes required in order to maintain any social cohesion; the trick is then to create strong inter-group links that allow sideways conversation and spread of ideas to other groups; (i.e, reading further in the originally linked article use of 'middle-management'). 
  
>
> Equally we have to remember that the number of subscribers who are heavily
> active only accounts for a small sub-section of the total number of
> subscribers (the minority in fact depending on how you count 'active').

Whatever the number of actives we have I (think I) am seeing a general
decrease in social cohesion as we grow.

I agree with this and it is something we need to combat or at least mitigate; to a degree social cohesion is not _as_ important for us as long as everyone plays by the rules i.e. it's not vital that everyone 'grooms' everyone as long as the rules that we have are abided by because we don't have a common goal (or any goal). 

Given that the space is rarely empty this means that generally someone trusted is about to vouch for the actions of those who may be less trusted due to being less central within the group(s). 

NB I'm not saying those who are not as active are untrustworthy just that they may be less trusted due to fewer people knowing them; neither am I suggesting that those who are active should exist to monitor and vouch for those who are less active. JUST that given the nature of the space when it comes to concerns over trustworthiness of others around personal possessions etc it's likely that someone you do trust will be on hand at most times.  

> All that being said I think one thing that we may have to consider in order
> to maintain smooth running is that we may have to be more militant in
> enforcing certain rules (eg cleaning up after ourselves, event/room booking,
> ditching large items etc).

How do we do so without creating drama?

I'm not sure; the most obvious is being better at calling each other out (or at least reminding each other) although this feels wrong. This is something that I honestly have no idea how to combat other than possibly being more harsh with stuff left on desks (i.e. anything left on the desk goes straight in the 'bin in 3 weeks' box).
 
> I think being aware of things like Dunbar's number is worthwhile but we have
> to be careful as to how it's applied. For example later in the article there
> is heavy discussion on sub groups and things. IIRC 150 is not a hard limit
> on group size just a limit on how many people you are liable to work with
> within a group, there is research that suggests one of the driving factors
> behind language is its ability to confer trust thus side stepping Dunbar's
> number (it acts not only as fast social grooming but also a method by which
> groups can groom each other and confer trust etc).

The article I linked to put the dunbar number as 150 people is the max
on average you can keep track of (including people outside of the
space). If the social group grows beyond that other means of
maintaining order are needed than pure social bonds. I suspect those
means will make the space less fun. But I may be wrong.

I'm not sure I agree with this; the other means are generally formed through specialisation and although within a company (as alluded to towards the end of the article) this takes the role of separate, non over-lapping departments I think it's possible for us to split off more amicably and still maintain broad cross-group interaction. As I said I'm thinking here about specific interest groups; some may be interested in everything; some just in cooking; or BioHacking; or Metalwork. I think the challenge will be maintaining enough communication between the groups that drama is minimised. For example making sure that any food-hackers we get are aware that one of the microwaves isn't food safe and is used for biology. 
 

I personally find it hard to keep track of a lot fewer than 150
people, but that just may be me :)

Also agreed :p
 

In summary: my problem with the Dunbar number is that it is too easy to see it as a maximum for organisation size. This is obviously rubbish there are huge organisations: they just require organisation and communication.

Additionally the Dunbar number seems to be very specificly aimed at a group of people working towards a common aim; I would argue that we don't have a common aim (certainly not in the same way as many of the groups used as examples in the article) and as such some of the issues raised can be sidestepped (by forming smaller specialist groups) or don't apply; for example the problem of having either 7, 25, 80 or 150 people for a specific group, we have enough members that they can join 'departments' freely and at will allow these to stablise at good numbers.

I'm not saying our increased size isn't something to be careful with; we do seriously risk alienating people if we become to cliquey (or if we become too permissive and people lose trust). 

I just think that the best solutions to it are going to be those that emerge rather than those we try to impose. We can try and steer the situation (and we should) but ultimately when you're dealing with any crowd all you can do is suggest and hope. 


S

Martin Dittus

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Apr 8, 2011, 11:01:47 PM4/8/11
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On 9 Apr 2011, at 03:06, Sam Cook wrote:
> > All that being said I think one thing that we may have to consider in order
> > to maintain smooth running is that we may have to be more militant in
> > enforcing certain rules (eg cleaning up after ourselves, event/room booking,
> > ditching large items etc).
>
> How do we do so without creating drama?
>
> I'm not sure; the most obvious is being better at calling each other out (or at least reminding each other) although this feels wrong. This is something that I honestly have no idea how to combat other than possibly being more harsh with stuff left on desks (i.e. anything left on the desk goes straight in the 'bin in 3 weeks' box).

I'd prefer "teaching" over "punishing".

At the moment we spend very little time educating hackers about how to maintain a space; instead it gets maintained by the subset of hackers who already have learned the lesson in other environments.

There's a lot to learn, I don't think it's all said by giving someone the Hackspace tour and pointing out how the 3-week rubbish cycle works. And a lot of it is not "learning how to do it" as much as adopting an attitude appropriate for the environment (e.g. not leaving your mess behind); teaching that takes time, and a lot of learning-by-observing. And maybe a little calling out too.

I.e., instead of figuring out how to use our communication channels to just blame people (start RAGE threads, call other people out, etc) I'd rather try to figure out how to use them to teach people all the big and small things that matter.

There already are a few starting points. We have wiki documentation about the _space_ (not just the people and tools.) There is an active "labelling things in the space" culture [1]. I'm sure you could mention more.

It's kind of weird. Our biggest expense is the space itself, not the laser cutter, 3D printer, lathe, ... and yet there's no mandatory introduction to this most expensive asset (I'm not asking for a mandatory introduction, just pointing out the contrast.)

m.

[1] http://www.flickr.com/photos/dekstop/sets/72157624858823861/

Will Pearson

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Apr 9, 2011, 3:36:11 AM4/9/11
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On Apr 9, 3:06 am, Sam Cook <sam.lindenrat...@gmail.com> wrote:

> I just think that the best solutions to it are going to be those that emerge
> rather than those we try to impose. We can try and steer the situation (and
> we should) but ultimately when you're dealing with any crowd all you can do
> is suggest and hope.


We can make big decisions that impact social dynamics though. The
biggest would be to expand by having two separate physical locations,
rather than expanding to one bigger location. This would create a
certain amount of duplication of items (kettles/fridges etc), but
would mean that different people would be looking after the spaces
cleanliness and IT infrastructure, reducing that burden. Lots of
negatives, but some positives. At what size does that become a good
decision?

The fracturing could be mitigated by telepresence connections between
the spaces.

Another way to mitigate the change in social dynamics is to have slow
organic growth rather than quick growth. I'm personally in favour of
not getting a new space too quickly, if that will require us to go on
another recruitment drive. It is easier to integrate new people if
there is only a small number coming in at any time.

Other things that could be done include things like a physical welcome
pack sent to new members with space ettiquette etc. I will start
thinking about this, help would be very much appreciated :)

I'm sure there are other things we can do, that I haven't listed.
Will

Adrian Godwin

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Apr 9, 2011, 5:10:23 AM4/9/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
On Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 4:01 AM, Martin Dittus <dek...@gmail.com> wrote:

On 9 Apr 2011, at 03:06, Sam Cook wrote:
>
> I'm not sure; the most obvious is being better at calling each other out (or at least reminding each other) although this feels wrong. This is something that I honestly have no idea how to combat other than possibly being more harsh with stuff left on desks (i.e. anything left on the desk goes straight in the 'bin in 3 weeks' box).


I agree. I dislike, but accept the need for filtering to reduce the total amount of equipment and materials in the space, but the arbitrary throwing out of stuff that may be valuable, hard to find or widely useful seem to me wasteful and wrong, especially if done to make a point rather than as a considered disposal of excess.

On the other hand, education is pretty well always valuable. It may be thought hard to do right, but correction can be applied without humiliation. Most of the difference in not how it is applied, nor how it is received, but whether the surrounding atmosphere is one of friendly support or dismissive judgement. I firmly believe the hackspace in general offers the former and I think that some calling out is justified, proportionate and constructive.

There is an element of PC / bleeding heart caution in the avoidance of correcting errors. This has little to recommend it - it's part of the same culture that has removed practical education from many of our schools and which the hackspace movement partially exists to correct. There is a difference between learning to safely use equipment and overcautiously avoiding any danger, and sometimes safe learning requires instant correction, not agonising over the method.

-adrian

Adrian Godwin

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Apr 9, 2011, 5:17:42 AM4/9/11
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D'oh ! I clipped out what I what I was agreeing with !



On Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM, Adrian Godwin <artg...@gmail.com> wrote:



On 9 Apr 2011, at 03:06, Sam Cook wrote:
>
> I'm not sure; the most obvious is being better at calling each other out (or at least reminding each other) although this feels wrong. This is something that I honestly have no idea how to combat other than possibly being more harsh with stuff left on desks (i.e. anything left on the desk goes straight in the 'bin in 3 weeks' box).

On Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 4:01 AM, Martin Dittus <dek...@gmail.com> wrote:

 I'd prefer "teaching" over "punishing".

Russ Garrett

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Apr 9, 2011, 9:08:53 AM4/9/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Will Pearson
On 8 April 2011 17:35, Will Pearson <wil.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I think we want to think carefully about how we expand. I think we are
> getting some of the negatives of large groups of people at the moment
> (tragedies of the commons, not knowing/trusting everyone).

I think being exclusionary because we're larger than an arbitrary
limit is far less preferable than the problem of every member not
knowing each other.

Although the social aspect of the Hackspace is one of our main aims,
the ultimate goal is to provide the space. And I believe there's no
reason why we decide to stop growing if there is demand for
membership.

I do think we shouldn't go out of our way to recruit more members now.
But we also shouldn't discourage people from becoming members, and if
the space gets too busy then we'll have to deal with it.

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

Russ Garrett

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Apr 9, 2011, 9:11:12 AM4/9/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Martin Dittus
On 9 April 2011 04:01, Martin Dittus <dek...@gmail.com> wrote:
> At the moment we spend very little time educating hackers about how to maintain a space; instead it gets maintained by the subset of hackers who already have learned the lesson in other environments.

This thread is getting dangerously close to violating Rule 4 :)

http://wiki.hackspace.org.uk/wiki/Rules

--
Russ Garrett
ru...@garrett.co.uk

Tom Scott

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Apr 9, 2011, 9:22:42 AM4/9/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
 Solexious made me do it. (see attached)
russ-dealwithit.gif

Mark Steward

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Apr 9, 2011, 9:54:51 AM4/9/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Sam Cook, Will Pearson
On Sat, Apr 9, 2011 at 3:06 AM, Sam Cook <sam.lind...@gmail.com> wrote:
Whatever the number of actives we have I (think I) am seeing a general
decrease in social cohesion as we grow.

I agree with this and it is something we need to combat or at least mitigate; to a degree social cohesion is not _as_ important for us as long as everyone plays by the rules i.e. it's not vital that everyone 'grooms' everyone as long as the rules that we have are abided by because we don't have a common goal (or any goal). 


What I'm seeing is an increase in the number of people who spend extended periods of time in the space.  This is my main cause for concern, because the weekly "clean up stuff people have left out" is now multiple times a day.  If it's the regulars doing the tidying, they get upset because they feel they do nothing else.  On the flip side, the regulars often have their stuff out all the time and don't put it away when they're out of the space for a short while.  This is a tragedy of the commons issue, not a social one.

I'm not worried about cohesion so much, that's what beer, training and IRC are for.

 
Given that the space is rarely empty this means that generally someone trusted is about to vouch for the actions of those who may be less trusted due to being less central within the group(s). 


I think this is dangerous - if you can't tell whether someone is trolling, or doesn't realise they've made a mistake, the general advice should be to ask the directors or mailing list, not the nearest "trusted person".  Otherwise, this pretty much guarantees the creation of factions with one person as the single point of contact.


> All that being said I think one thing that we may have to consider in order
> to maintain smooth running is that we may have to be more militant in
> enforcing certain rules (eg cleaning up after ourselves, event/room booking,
> ditching large items etc).

How do we do so without creating drama?


(I hope) you'll notice we do this continually.  The drama threads are created by individuals getting upset, not the day-to-day conversations about use of the space.  I know it was meant figuratively, but I think "militant" is a bad word for this - "zealous" or "diligent" might be better.


Mark

Will Pearson

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Apr 10, 2011, 4:57:11 AM4/10/11
to London Hackspace
Hmm, I appear to not have communicated as clearly as I wanted earlier.

1) When everyone grooms one another socials norms can be enforced
easily. You know who is likely to have transgressed and can make jokes
or light hearted comments. Being mildly scolded by a friend is
different to having a stranger tell you what you can and can't do.
2) We have been slowly moving to a phase where this form of social
bonding is insufficient. (this is why I mentioned the dunbar number)
3) Our current mechanisms to take the place of grooming are a bit
creaky for dealing with enforcing social norms

I have one idea (a welcome pack), does anyone else have any ideas on
how to improve 3?

Will

Mark Steward

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Apr 10, 2011, 8:20:02 AM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Will Pearson
On Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 9:57 AM, Will Pearson <wil.p...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hmm, I appear to not have communicated as clearly as I wanted earlier.

1) When everyone grooms one another socials norms can be enforced
easily. You know who is likely to have transgressed and can make jokes
or light hearted comments. Being mildly scolded by a friend is
different to having a stranger tell you what you can and can't do.

I disagree - a cliquey/religious group is precisely what we should be trying to avoid.  I think communities like Hackspace work better the more casual relationships are.  I also know that some people come here to avoid the stress and distractions of other places: we don't want the worst of both work and home environments.

If anything, all I've seen recently is pre-existing groups joining en masse to spend time with each other, rather than out of individual interest.  It's bound to happen to a degree, but we don't want to foster a schoolyard environment where only people with conspicuous friends can survive.
 
2) We have been slowly moving to a phase where this form of social
bonding is insufficient. (this is why I mentioned the dunbar number) 

Things that I think are Good: talking to people about their projects, giving tours, drinking & eating, light heartedness, occasional trolling and counter-trolling, reorganising the space - basically everything that happens on a Tuesday night - and workshops and trips.  Of course this isn't everything, but I'd be interested to know if there are specific areas that are lacking.  Otherwise this is just bike-shedding, and I'm a fool for feeding the confusion.
 
3) Our current mechanisms to take the place of grooming are a bit
creaky for dealing with enforcing social norms


I think hackers already self-select for co-operative social norms, such as Postel's Law[1], and the exceptions are fine because they rarely overpower the majority.  The only normalising I think we need is that of safety, which is a legal requirement.
 
I have one idea (a welcome pack), does anyone else have any ideas on
how to improve 3?


A welcome pack is a brilliant idea (someone actually asked for one recently on IRC), but I'm afraid I don't know whether that's anything to do with "grooming".


Mark

Martin Klang

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Apr 10, 2011, 8:40:13 AM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com

By social norms I take it we are talking about a set of practices and conventions which we loosely agree works for the space, i.e. 'hacker culture'.

Let me just chip in that the norms themselves must be allowed to evolve.

And allow me please to contribute another unsolicited tuppence:

Something that is a sore point to many people is when you're told off for breaking a 'rule' simply because rules should not be broken. I imagine this is a large part of the reason there's a de-emphasis on rules. And rightly so, we really don't want a culture of policing and blaming.

Therefore I reckon it is good practice, good culture, almost smiley culture in fact, to let those affected by someone else's digressions do the criticism. E.g. if you're not (um trying to come up with a silly example that no-one feels offended by...) a loo user, there's no need to complain about the loo walls being graffitied.

The flip side of this is that if you _are_ inconvenienced by someone else, you have a _responsibility_ to complain about it, in order to promote good practice!

Rather than police-bot saying "you broke rule xyz", I personally consider it much easier to accept "yesterday you didn't put the chuck back where it belongs and I spent 30 mins looking for it, twat!". Even if it happens to contain harsh language - because there's a real reason for the criticism which is easy to relate to.

Note I'm not promoting being rude to each other here! Naturally we should always be polite and excellent. Dude.
(speaking of which, is there not a motto which is a bit less Bill and Ted?)

/m

Sam Cook

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Apr 10, 2011, 11:27:50 AM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
not really it's specifically labeled a discussion and as such part of that should include pointing out the weaknesses of the current system; some of which are very hard, if not impossible to fix as a single person :p

Will Pearson

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Apr 10, 2011, 3:09:45 PM4/10/11
to London Hackspace
We had a terminological disconnect :)

Grooming got picked up from the Dunbar Number discussion (which was
originally primate research) means picking flees off other primates.
Which became shorthand for pleasurable social interaction that forms
feelings of belonging to a group with the person you are having a
positive interaction with. Nothing religiousy :)

You are thinking of grooming in a different sense. Where you try and
inculcate a certain culture different significantly to what they had.

> > 2) We have been slowly moving to a phase where this form of social
> > bonding is insufficient. (this is why I mentioned the dunbar number)
>
> Things that I think are Good: talking to people about their projects, giving
> tours, drinking & eating, light heartedness, occasional trolling and
> counter-trolling, reorganising the space

This is all grooming of sorts. Or positive social interactions, to use
less confusing terminology. You can only eat with X many people. You
can only keep track of X many peoples projects. Someone who does
something that makes you angry, that you have had no positive social
interactions with, will likely come off far worse than someone you
have had a friendly chat with at some point. Leading to schisms/feuds.
It is that I am trying to head off.

> A welcome pack is a brilliant idea (someone actually asked for one recently
> on IRC), but I'm afraid I don't know whether that's anything to do with
> "grooming".
>

It is an alternative. One way to head off schisms/feuds is to get
people on the same page with regard to what how the space is used/
maintained so conflicts do not occur to start with. This requires
communication before troubles happen. Expecting people to know which
parts of the wiki to read, is probably a bit much. Giving people a
piece of paper or two with useful information as well as how to
maintain the space might help.

Does this make more sense?

Will

Adrian Godwin

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Apr 10, 2011, 3:32:05 PM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
On Sun, Apr 10, 2011 at 8:09 PM, Will Pearson <wil.p...@gmail.com> wrote:

It is an alternative. One way to head off schisms/feuds is to get
people on the same page with regard to what how the space is used/
maintained so conflicts do not occur to start with. This requires
communication before troubles happen. Expecting people to know which
parts of the wiki to read, is probably a bit much. Giving people a
piece of paper or two with useful information as well as how to
maintain the space might help.


A physical pack seems a bit anachronistic - even though I prefer printed reference manuals, something less daunting might be possible with an email having :

- a photo guide to significant items (and people ?) in the space
- notes about how to use things / how to find things / how to
- links to important stuff on the wiki
- links to video guides

Please, not a video as the main guide. It's far too boring to wait through someone else's idea of a reasonable speed. However, short clips to demonstrate what happens if you leave the chuck key in the lathe or get your clothing caught in the grinder would be entertaining and instructive, if a little gory.

Obviously the email could be printed out for anyone who prefers that, but email has the advantage of live links and lower copying cost. It can also require to be read (or, at least, some URLs followed) before membership is finalised.

Sam Cook

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Apr 10, 2011, 3:36:16 PM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Will Pearson
It is an alternative. One way to head off schisms/feuds is to get
people on the same page with regard to what how the space is used/
maintained so conflicts do not occur to start with. This requires
communication before troubles happen. Expecting people to know which
parts of the wiki to read, is probably a bit much. Giving people a
piece of paper or two with useful information as well as how to
maintain the space might help.

Trying to move towards more positive (and hopefully, useful) discussion: is there a standard email we can automatically send to people once they join the wiki? I know we can't do this with the mailing list (thanks, google!) but I vaguely remember a "you've joined this wiki please do XYZ" could we direct people to the getting started[1] as a basic welcome pack. Additionally if we get to the point where we have a surplus of boxes these could easily have print outs of useful pages (eg the rules, tools and the trainers guide)? 

I think in terms of maintaining grooming (the social interaction kind) I think making sure that ever few months we do have a big party (maybe weekend long?) hopefully with people being able to show off stuff (mini maker-faire style thing, which reminds me....) 

To a degree it should be easier to have positive social interactions over the summer as well as we can organise things like BBQs, there's talk of a fossil hunting trip to Lime Regis; I'm guessing we could hash together star gazing evenings etc.

S


Dave Durant

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Apr 10, 2011, 6:21:33 PM4/10/11
to London Hackspace

> I have one idea (a welcome pack), does anyone else have any ideas on
> how to improve 3?

I'm wondering if there's any "gamerfication" type solutions. I.e. if
people learn how to use the lazer-cutter and use it they get a
"badge" (a piece of HTML to put on their personal wiki page). Same for
any other piece of equipment but *also* they same for, say, tidying up
the space after everyone else has gone home or doing first aid at the
'space or being the one to order pizza, etc, etc.

The idea being that if people do more things to help out not only do
they collect more badges but they also feel more part-ownership of the
'space and less just someone that goes there to do stuff.

Thoughts?

Sam Cook

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Apr 10, 2011, 7:32:33 PM4/10/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Dave Durant
I'm wondering if there's any "gamerfication" type solutions. I.e. if
people learn how to use the lazer-cutter and use it they get a
"badge" (a piece of HTML to put on their personal wiki page). Same for
any other piece of equipment but *also* they same for, say, tidying up
the space after everyone else has gone home or doing first aid at the
'space or being the one to order pizza, etc, etc. 
[snip]
Thoughts?

I like this idea but I'm not sure if people would be interested enough in badges to make it feasible; I'm also not sure how we could provide more worthwhile rewards without creating a system people automatically attempt to game (even if we don't mean to; we are hackers we will try to break any system). Also like achievements in games it's tricky to find the balance between "no-one will ever manage this" and "well done you remembered to breath". The main way I can see this being useful is if we say use some number of points to buy things (say 100 points you get a Hackspace T-shirt; 1000 points a free labcoat) I'd be loathe to say things like 1m points = more storage space as it disadvantages those who can't spend much time at the space. 

Perhaps have a wall of fame for those who've got lots of points or something?

I like this idea but I'm not sure how we'd implement it, police it, or stop people gaming it. 

That being said it does certainly have merit....

S

Billy

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Apr 10, 2011, 10:59:28 PM4/10/11
to London Hackspace

One thought that occured to me a while back, though i'm still trying
to implement for myself, was making tools.

I found one design on Thingiverse for a set of calipers that you could
make with a laser cutter.

Showing people how to make their own tools, would be an excellent way
of both teaching the skills, and giving our members something that
they really own. (Not just in the sense of it belonging to them, but
in the sense, that they really understand how it works.)

If they're small and portable, then they also become a practical
advert for what we do here. "This is what i made, and here's why it's
useful."

It also fits in nicely with the old-style apprentice-ship way of doing
things, where the apprentices were expected to make their tools as
part of the learning experience.

The calipers were just one example, what other tools do people think
we would need as part of a "basic tools" kit that we could make?

Sam Cook

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Apr 11, 2011, 5:02:10 AM4/11/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com, Billy
Showing people how to make their own tools, would be an excellent way
of both teaching the skills, and giving our members something that
they really own. (Not just in the sense of it belonging to them, but
in the sense, that they really understand how it works.)

I think making our own tools is an excellent idea (certainly if we can get to the point where we can recycle/mend a lot of small tools that get heavy use eg wire cutters) but I think this would only be effective for those that are going to use the tools a lot; that being said awesome idea and something I'd be very much up for giving a go.

S

cepm...@yahoo.co.uk

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Apr 11, 2011, 6:03:04 AM4/11/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
On Mon, 11 Apr 2011 03:59:28 +0100, Billy <bi...@billycomputersmith.com>
wrote:


> Showing people how to make their own tools, would be an excellent way
> of both teaching the skills, and giving our members something that
> they really own. (Not just in the sense of it belonging to them, but
> in the sense, that they really understand how it works.)

Yes, There is something very satisfying in using even simple tools and
jigs that one has made from scratch.

> The calipers were just one example, what other tools do people think
> we would need as part of a "basic tools" kit that we could make?

This would really depend on the interests of the individual member. A
"catalogue" of suitable projects for beginners in various disciplines
might be useful

>
> On Apr 11, 12:32 am, Sam Cook <sc...@hep.ucl.ac.uk> wrote:

> Perhaps have a wall of fame for those who've got lots of points or
> something?

I see this as being potentially very divisive. The old saying "Virtue is
its own reward" comes to mind, those members who do things for the space
know who they are and for the most part are happy with a quiet word of
thanks or the odd mention on the mailing list. Trying to quantify the
"worth" of individual actions would be near impossible given the thousands
of things that it is possible to do for the greater good.

Phil

Sam Cook

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Apr 11, 2011, 6:37:49 AM4/11/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com
I see this as being potentially very divisive. The old saying "Virtue is its own reward" comes to mind, those members who do things for the space know who they are and for the most part are happy with a quiet word of thanks or the odd mention on the mailing list. Trying to quantify the "worth" of individual actions would be near impossible given the thousands of things that it is possible to do for the greater good.

This was pretty much my problem with "gamification" in general: it works _really_ well and in some ways far too well.  Maybe things like free lab coats, free tokens for beer/beverage of choice? although ultimately someone has to pay which sucks...

hmmm 

S

Martin Dittus

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Apr 12, 2011, 9:30:07 AM4/12/11
to london-h...@googlegroups.com

On 9 Apr 2011, at 03:06, Sam Cook wrote:
>
> In summary: my problem with the Dunbar number is that it is too easy to see it as a maximum for organisation size. This is obviously rubbish there are huge organisations: they just require organisation and communication.

In related news: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/03/are-people-nicer-in-cities/

"After two years of analysis, West and Bettencourt discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations. [...] According to the equations of West and Bettencourt, every socioeconomic variable that can be measured in cities – from the production of patents to per capita income – scales to an exponent of approximately 1.15. This means that a person living in a metropolis of one million should generate, on average, about 15 percent more patents, and make 15 percent more money, than a person living in a city of five hundred thousand."

(Yeah it's a system at a completely different scale. Still, I can feel the pace of change in the space speed up as we grow.)

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