Hacklabs and Hackerspaces: Tracing Two Genealogies

Maxigas, Peter
Journal of Peer Production

Hackerspaces are workshops organised with an open community model where people with technological interests can come together to socialise, collaborate, share and expand their knowledge. The last few years have seen an increased activity in this area including the founding of many new locations, increasing cooperation and discussions about the potentialities and the directions of hackerspaces. Similar spaces, however, called hacklabs, have existed ever since personal computers became widespread. Hacklabs are typically based on a political agenda. These new and old places are often seen retrospectively as part of a single trajectory and most of the discourse treats hacklabs and hackespaces as equivalent. Outlining the overlapping but still distinguishable genealogies of both hackerspaces and hacklabs will prove helpful in questioning the tendency to confound the two and can further contribute to the contemporary debates over this vibrant culture and movement. The article ends with a reflection from a strategic point of view how hackerspaces and hacklabs contribute to the production of postcapitalist subjectivities through their organisational dynamics. The findings are based on personal experiences and field work, mainly at a now-defunct hacklab in London (the Hackney Crack House) and a hackerspace in Budapest (the Hungarian Autonomous Center for Knowledge).