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Latest revision as of 18:40, 14 November 2021

What is a Hackerspace?

One way to explain a hackerspace is to say it is a collaborative work environment. However, hackerspaces are also extremely varied spaces in terms of organization, mission, culture, scope, and size. There are small workshops where a few good friends get together to drink homebrew beer and hack on custom-designed 3D printers. There are sprawling spaces hundreds-strong, a small village barter economy - with ideas and imagination as currency.

One aspect that is almost completely unique to hackerspaces is environment hacking: new furniture, storage space, workstations, lighting, and rooms. Most people are conditioned by having to grow up, learn, live and work in environments that have been created for them from the top down. Freeside completely inverts this social construct, and instead empowers its members to create their own environment, grassroots style.

It's interesting to note that many libraries are building hackerspaces. As books (and knowledge) ever march digital, what function and role does a library play in society? The library, as the institution we know today, is sure to vanish. The Hackerspace is the sole heir to its the social responsibility and function, to the ongoing development of skills, and as a curator and index of knowledge.

It's a place for tinkerers and hobbyists to talk shop and compare notes. It's an unbounded blank canvas for creation, where ideas can be put to the test, things set on fire, and the stuff of legends cast in the forge of blood, sweat, and tears. Or just tablespace to work on your soldering skills. It's really up to you, as a participant, to create and define what the space ultimately becomes.

Will it be a mere reflection of yourself? A composite, stained-glass mural of its member ids and egos? Or does it emerge into its own strange and magnificent creature?

The Hackerspace Manifesto embodies Freeside values.

These sites give a great introduction to hackerspaces and the growing maker movement:

This bundle of RSS feeds is a collection of Maker/Hackerspaces.

Makerspace members both create and contribute to community projects. Project may involve as few as a couple of participants at a local makerspace, to many thousands of contributors across the internet. Some examples of projects that inspire makerspaces include:

Here's a few other collected thoughts from the web about making and hacking, the stuff of real, meaningful, important and relevant work:

What is Freeside, exactly?

Freeside is a 501(c)3 non-profit hackerspace and community. It's exclusively run by its members and volunteers. Our mission is to promote personal development, continuing education, and scientific research.

How do I get to Freeside?

3043 Commerce Way
Atlanta, GA 30354

We've put together detailed directions, as well as video.

Can I show up to visit the space at any time to check it out?

Likely not, especially if you were not expected, and/or nobody knows who you are. Freeside is a pretty chill environment, but a lot of members come to work on projects with minimal interruptions. Some members might be uncomfortable to allow strangers into Freeside, or are unable or unwilling to bear the responsibility of hosting a guest.

Also, if you arrive at our space and call our VOIP/Voicemail number, you may be disappointed to learn that the number is not currently connected to any physical telephone at the space, and that we rarely check the messages.

Instead, before stopping by randomly, join our public mailing list, or email BOD@freesideatlanta.org and ask ahead to make arrangements to visit.

What kind of services do you offer?

Freeside is not a for-profit organization, so we do not have products or services for sale. Our customer support is terrible, anyway.

Freeside does not provide on-demanding 3D printing, materials or machine time for construction of prototypes, or consulting for patent applications, engineering, or software. We will gladly refer you to businesses that specialize in these matters.

Freeside does not rent storage space or work space to individuals.

What are your hours?

Right now, we don't keep regular hours, but somebody is usually around during the day. Join our public mailing list and ask ahead to make arrangements to visit - our members are more than willing to show off the space and its projects!

Freeside is open 24/7 to members.

What is the best time to stop by and see it for myself?

We have an open house every Second and Fourth Tuesday night around 7p or thereabouts. At our open house, you're welcome to just browse around and see what members are working on. You're free to ask to join the fun! The open house has more of a social feel, but feel free to break away if you find something interesting to work on.

If enough people gather in a cluster, the cluster may be led around.

We also have events and classes (just about) all the time. Check out and join our Meetup group for the schedule and to RSVP.

How can I get more involved?

Freeside is a member-supported nonprofit organization. We're always looking for active new members, donors, and supporters. There are a ton of ways to get started. One way is to bring us something from our Wishlist! Probably the best way is to introduce yourself at the Tuesday Open House listed above.

The only thing that is required for membership is enthusiasm. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the space and all of the projects going on your first time there, but one of our goals is education and we'll teach you whatever you'd like to know. Don't wait for a class on it either - find a subject matter expert (SME) in the area that your interested in and they'll help you get started.

If we don't have a class/event/project/area that you'd like to see, just rally people to get it. If you can keep people excited about something, they'll help you build whatever you're looking for. The more that our members do this, the stronger Freeside becomes and the more resources you'll have at your disposal.

How much are dues?

Our current regular membership rate is $80/mo, which comes with a bunch of benefits. A discount membership rate is $40/mo, and is available to those who qualify (including students) through the Starving Hacker Program.

Other discounts are available, just ask our Treasurer.

Do you offer day passes or short-term membership?

We do not offer day passes or short-term membership.

The issue with short-term membership is that our community is kept strong by creating a high trust environment. Over time, people that have weak ties to our community and little investment in the continued success of the space may not take care of the basics, like keeping the space clean and putting away tools after working on a project.

If a person is not interested in making a moderate commitment to Freeside membership, then we encourage them to continue to attend our open houses, other public events, or to get involved in one of our community projects, all free of charge.

Are my donations tax-deductible?

You may elect to have a receipt issued for your donation, to claim as tax-deductible. See the donations page for more information about what we accept and how we assess value.

Our Wishlist is a good place to see what we need!

Is Freeside an independent 501(c)3 charity organization?

Yes! Retroactive to MAY-2012, we have approval as an independent 501(c)3 charity organization. Contact the Treasurer for more information or if you have any questions.

How do I get less email from the mailing lists?

We use Google Groups to manage our mailing lists, so you can go to the Google Groups page and manage your email settings there, for the groups you are a part of. If you select the Abridged option then you'll get a daily email. The Digest option sends you an email every 25 emails to the list.

Why 'Freeside'?


Home was BAMA, the Sprawl, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.

Program a map to display frequency of data exchange, every thousand megabytes a single pixel on a very large screen. Manhattan and Atlanta burn solid white. Then they start to pulse, the rate of traffic threatening to overload your simulation. Your map is about to go nova. Cool it down. Up your scale. Each pixel a million megabytes. At a hundred million megabytes per second, you begin to make out certain blocks in midtown Manhattan, outlines of hundred-year-old industrial parks ringing the old core of Atlanta...

Neuromancer by William Gibson