Last week I went on holiday to Devon as a wee break from the stresses and strains of work. And what a lovely week it was too; sunshine, beautiful scenery and cute country towns with hardly any wifi or 3G signal at all and an average population age of 70. After 4 days, my partner, Ian, and I decided we needed some life and some connectivity and headed up to Exeter to hang out.
Before we left, Ian had done some research and discovered a hackerspace existed in Exeter. As one of the founders of the Brighton hackerspace, Build Brighton, we contacted Gray Simpson of E_hackerspace by email to let him know we were coming and asking if the group was holding a meeting while we were in the area. Turns out the hackerspace was still in the ‘so, how the hell do we do this?’ stage of creation with no regular meetings, so an ad-hoc one was hastily pulled together on a Friday evening for our benefit.
It was really great to meet up with a group in the early stages of development. It really brought home what we at BuildBrighton have accomplished in less than a year and it was good to be able to pass on useful advice and tips to a new space. It was also fantastic to see how the stories that we had about building and running the space and about the cool things going on there inspired and enthused Gray and his co-founder Julius. I just hope that they hold on to that enthusiasm and keep the momentum going, which they will have to do to get the space off the ground.
I also learned that in Brighton we had it kind of easy. There was already a very strong tech community, albeit software and design based rather than hardware based, and as a visible member of that community I had easy access to forums, contacts and mailing lists that made the advertising and promotion of BuildBrighton fairly stress free. Exeter it seems has very little in the way of a tech community so Gray and Julius will have their work cut out for them trying to build one from scratch. I really hope they succeed and look forward to watching them grow over the next year.
You can find out more about the Exeter Hackerspace at their website or join their mailing list. You can find BuildBrighton at The Skiff in Cheltenham Place every Thursday from 7pm, or by our mailing list and website.
To find out more about hackerspaces in general – communities for peeople into building things with technology – you can do so at hackerspaces.org