Hacker Ethic At The Library
You have likely noticed that our library is a bit different than most. We have begun to reimagine our library services, programs, and spaces through an innovative Strategic Plan, launched in 2012. One element in the plan that has been turning heads is our adoption of a "hacker ethic". This has people asking us about the term's definition and why we would adopt such a thing in a library setting. Hint: The answer to this question isn't nearly as scandalous or shady as 5 minutes on Google would have you think.
Like hackers, the idea of hacker ethic has been around for decades. The original culture and thinking around hacking has been linked to work done at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the 50s and 60s. In 1984, journalist Steven Levy authored a book entitled “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution”. While others came after him with varying definitions, his encompasses some of the key principles that triggered the direction we are taking in the library:
Sharing – We want information to be free. Like we always have!
Hands-On Imperative – People should be encouraged to take things apart, discovering and developing ideas of their own.
Community and Collaboration – we want to connect people with like-minded or even complimentary niche interests.
Our Library's definition hacker ethic draws on these three elements of Levy's definition, but we are continually reassessing how to develop our hacker focus based on the dynamics of our community. Ultimately, what we are supporting is genuine critical thinking - the move from blind consumption of ideas and things, to the active production and modification of ideas and things, done in community.
Innisfil is a town with a huge amount of local creative potential and we want to highlight this. We run into hackers of all types in the library on a daily basis. Whether it is a group of teenagers remixing their favourite song, a local musician soldering together the wiring of his home-made electric guitar, or a child 3D printing her own version of the Rubik's Cube. We believe that this creative production of ideas can and should be fostered in a public space where collaboration becomes second nature. If not the library, then where?
Hardware: Makerbot Replicator (5th gen.), Replicator 2, and Replicator 2X
Software: We use Makerware to send jobs to the 3D printer. Compatible files are .STL and .OBJ. For designing, we use Sketchup or TinkerCAD for complete beginners and younger children. We also use an iOS app called 123D creature. If you are just getting started, the website Thingiverse is worth checking out. There you will find an ever-expanding collection of designs that are free to download and print for yourself. You can even post your own designs for the rest of the world to try!
Cost: 3D Printing your designs at the library costs $1.00 + $0.25 per 10 minutes.
Hardware: One Roland GX-24 Vinyl Cutter
Cost: Vinyl cutting your designs at the library costs $2.00 for an area of 6 inches by 6 inches.
Hardware: One Epilog Laser Mini
Software: The laser understands vector line drawings for cutting. We use Inkscape (free, open-source) to create our designs.
Cost: Lasering your designs at the library costs $2.00 for an area of 3 inches by 3 inches
Hardware: Arduino Kits, Raspberry Pi, Makey Makey, and soldering
Software: The Arduino is a user-friendly micro-controller, which can be programmed to interact with lights, sensors, motors, and more for a range of interesting projects, all programmed within the Arduino Programming environment. Come learn how you can use an Arduino to make your own RFID cat door today!
The Raspberry Pi is just a tiny computer, which can be used in electronics projects, or as a tool to learn more about programming in Python or Scratch.
Ask us about our other hacking kits, tools, and toys!