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Hacker Dojo visit

Page history last edited by William Liang 13 years, 4 months ago


Hacker Dojo

 

I visited Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California on 29-10-2010. HD is a coworking and hackerspace combined. It is about 8000 sq ft in total, and is housed in what used to be a stained/art glass factory. The main door opens into a reception area of the “office” section of the space.

 

The reception area has a monitor showing upcoming events, a computer for guest sign in, a donation box for USD10 per day use, a user-donated library, and sofas/beanbags.

 

To the right is a “lab” area, which functions as a hackerspace, with a large communal desk, electronic benches against the wall, a user-donated small milling machine, and some bike racks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the “office” is two-storied, with a clean kitchen on the first floor, and has several office rooms with desks in them on the second floor. They are used mostly by entrepreneurs and coworking individuals.

 

The adjacent "warehouse" space has two big open high-ceiling spaces. One of them has a large loft upstairs, and large communal desks with a soda vending machine on the side.

 

The loft has DJ equipment for parties, and it is also used for movie projection.

 

The adjacent large open space, which is filled with chairs, is primarily used for events. It seems to hold 100+ people and has a large blank wall used for projection.

 

There is more description of the Dojo on wikipaedia and on their own page.

 

Finally, I'd like to include here an email exceprt of mine with one of the founders, Jon Hull, which describes how they run the place:

 

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your interest.  I am out of town most of this week, but you are certainly welcome to come by and take a tour or attend an event.  There are organized tours about once a month, but you can just stop by and ask someone for a tour anytime.  We have a suggested donation of $10 per day, though we generally wave that if it is your first time at the dojo.

We have a membership program which costs $100 per month, and that includes the ability to host events, vote on issues, 24/7 access to the dojo, etc...  We offer a $40 "hardship rate" to those with economic difficulties, but that has to be approved by the directors.  We also have a work-trade option, but we really only allow that for very specialized/useful skills.  In general, we automate the collection of money via the web, and then we tie our other systems into that to automatically activate/deactivate member privileges (e.g. getting into the building via RFID).  This makes managing money issues a lot simpler.

We try to automate as much as possible.  We have built software for billing, events, voting, etc....  You are welcome to use our code as a base for your own, and if you make improvements, please share those improvements with us.  The code can be found here: http://github.com/hackerdojo

We have an elected board of directors, who can work quickly to settle disputes, provide a face for dealing with the city, and deal with higher level legal issues... but they leave most of the decisions to the membership.  They have no extra privileges/perks above the membership beyond the title (e.g. they all pay $100 a month just like the other members).  We generally try to avoid having classes of membership.  All members are equal.

For making official policy we have a voting system.  Every two weeks we have a voting session (physically at the dojo).  All members are welcome to add an issue to the agenda a few days before the vote (we close the agenda the day before the vote so there aren't any surprises).  We then have a quick discussion and vote on each issue.  It is an evolving process, but so far it is working well.

In general, we consider ourselves a "Do-ocracy".  That means that if you want something (legal & non-destructive) to happen at the dojo, then instead of holding a vote on whether or not it should be done, you should make it happen, and try to convince others to help you.  If others disagree, then they can undo what you have done. It is a bit like a physical wiki.  For example, a few of us wanted a cool space on the deck to watch movies, so we moved a bunch of couches and a projector up there and now we enjoy watching movies regularly.  Occasionally someone will mess up the arrangement (to make room for their own event) and we have to move it back.  We encourage people to leave things the way they found them unless they are intentionally trying to improve the space.

Also, if you do successfully start a space in Hong Kong, please let us know.  We are very interested in working out cross-membership deals with hacker spaces around the world.  Basically, if someone from your space comes here, they could hang out at the dojo for free, and if any of us go to hong kong, we would have a place to hang out, and maybe someone to show us around.  The directors would be the ones who could authorize that (directors@hackerdojo.com).  They may also have additional advice from their perspective.

Feel free to ask if you have any additional questions.  I hope you enjoy your time at the dojo :-)

The address is:
140 S. Whisman
Mountain View, CA 94041

Thanks,
Jon

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