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Makerspaces: What are they, and why do they matter?

By: Charles Gantt | Editorials in Maker & DIY | Posted: Dec 2, 2013 3:04 am



Makerspaces, Hackerspaces, tech shops, or fab labs are all basically the same thing when you break them down into their core components. They consist of people who pay a monthly membership fee to be part of a collective of likeminded technologically inclined individuals. In laymen's terms, a Makerspace is a building where members can regularly meet to work on, discuss, or plan projects.


These spaces typically have machinery and other equipment available to use that may be too expensive for an individual to justify purchasing for just a few small projects. Makerspaces typically have at least basic hand tools, a 3D Printer, and a laser cutter, but each space is unique, and depending on membership levels, funding, and overhead cost, could have much more or much less.


While Makerspaces are generally more adapted for those who like to make physical things such as robots, 3D printers, projects involving embedded electronics, and more hands-on types of projects, Hackerspaces, on the other hand, are usually likened to the coding side of things. They are filled with individuals who are proficient in app, web, game, and coding development in general.


There is usually some cross over, and in my experience, many makers are also coders, while not many coders are makers. At the same time NYC Resistor was branded as a Hackerspace, it included just as many makers as it did coders. Personally, I feel that the Makerspace and Hackerspace names are interchangeable and we should not limit collaboration based on technical skill set as everyone has something to bring to the table.

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