This is something that various friends and I have been kicking over recently, in the context of scoot wrench and hackerspaces. Melbourne does have a hackerspace and "Maker" community of sorts, but one of the issues with the capital-M Maker community, as with many capital-letter communities (I'm looking at you, Poly Pagans) is that they fall prey to cliquism. Whether intentional or not, the very term "hack-space" tends to attract and reinforce a community of people who are perhaps more focussed on rep-raps and Arduinos than fixing lawnmowers. I went to the mini-Maker Faire (yeah, that trailing e is exactly what I'm talking about) last year, and there was some interesting stuff, but if you weren't really interested in LEDs and 3d printing and robots, you were a bit out of luck. There's a token presence from sustainable gardening, but it's all a bit insular.

And that's not really my vision. I'd love a serious geek hackspace, but it's not going to empower the broader community when it comes to making or fixing things, be it lawnmowers, pushbikes or washing machines. So this is a bit of a survey, and I'd love it signal boosted beyond my circle of friends in facebook land, about what a shared skill-space might look like in Melbourne.

I'm trying to get a feel for a few things - "why don't people fix their own stuff" is part of it, but the answer to that is, on the surface, pretty simple. They don't have the skills, they don't have the tools, or they don't have the time. When people say "It's easier to buy a new one", then one of those three things is fundamentally the root cause. But beyond that, there's a deeper question of *why* people don't have the tools, the skills, and the time, which is a little more interesting. And part of it is "technology" - getting rid of CRTs makes a certain amount of sense, and LCD panels with SMD and solid state driver boards aren't really fixable. But the technology behind washing machines, pushbikes and furniture is still pretty accessible, I think.

  1. Do you live in Melbourne?
  2. How would you describe yourself on the "Maker" spectrum, from "I don't own a screwdriver" to "I mine my own ore to smelt in my home-made furnace to machine into a screwdriver when I need one".
  3. Would you attend a skill-share day, assuming you had free time?
  4. Would you be offering skills, or wanting to learn, or both?
  5. What skills do you have that you'd be willig to teach?
  6. Would you attend a tool-share day, assuming you had free time?
  7. Would you be lending tools, or borrowing them, or both?
  8. What tools do you have that you'd be willing to lend??
  9. At what point, roughly, would "Buy a new one" win over "Fix the old one", assuming tools and skill weren't an issue? That is, if you knew something would take 1 hour for you to fix, how expensive would a replacement have to be for you to fix it instead of buy it? $10? $20? $50?
  10. Does that per-hour figure change if you know it'll take 5 hours? 8 hours?
  11. What do you own that you would like to be able to repair yourself? Pushbike? Dryer? Furniture? Computer?
  12. What puts you off, at the moment? Lack of tools, or lack of knowledge, or fear that you'll make the problem worse?
  13. If I opened my garage up and said "Bring me the things you want fixed", would you bring them if I insisted that you pick up a tool and learn how to fix them yourself as the price?
  14. Would you barter something - another skill, or home-made cake, or home-grown vegetables, or something you had made, instead?
  15. How far would you travel to take part in something like this?
  16. If you have a garage/shed/sorkspace, would you open it up for something like this?
  17. IF not, is that because you don't want tools damaged, and you would provide space and knowledge if someone else brought tools?
  18. Would you pay a nominal fee to a space that provided tools and regular skill share sessions?