The idea of a co-working space has always been on my mind and in our “business ideas” as a family, alongside the washing school cafe. The plan was never formalised because we didn’t really want to be just-another-office. As a result, it remained just an abstract idea until recently.
One day in September, Sid returned from a Fedora meetup all excited about a hackerspace idea that he had discussed with Kushal. Kushal has been one of my idea soundboards, always willing to share and review ideas – he will hopefully be member number two in the makerspace – and he thought the hackerspace idea would excite me and it sure did. I read about it a little more and gradually the idea of reserved-bit grew.
As we were mulling over the idea of a hackerspace, I participated at the Science Hack Day, Belgaum and was amazed by the ideas that a group of people could come up with in a short span of 2 days. The organizers, mentors, volunteers, participants spanning age 2-70 years were delightful to interact with, experts in various fields, co-operative, approachable and thoroughly passionate. My project of smart-ifying a battery operated toy met with some success among the kids. This was a huge confidence-booster to me and I was reassured that “making” will never go out of fashion.
Hackerspaces originally started as a group of programmers sharing a physical space. The definition has grown to include hackers from different fields of arts and technology. However people I know – those unfamiliar with the word “hacker” outside of movies – find the term a bit alienating. Though hackerspace, makerspace, tech lab are all used interchangeably – a makerspace turned out to be the most effective definition for what I personally had in mind. It would be a space to make whatever you can (given the facilities) collaboratively. An ideal maker space for me would have passionate and helpful members, tools, toys, computers, electronics, canvas, art and craft supplies, legos and a kitchen. So we finally had clarity on what our maker space would be:
- A place to gain access to tools that would usually not fit your budget
- A place to acquire tools and devices that you would not easily find in India
- A place to find like-minded people, make friends and build your social circle
- A place to collaboratively design, build, make anything
- A place to learn new skills and discover new ideas, even rediscover your own ideas
So we set about planning for this space in greater detail.
Sid registered the name reserved-bit as a vanity domain years ago for his own use and when I started thinking of starting something of my own, he offered me the domain to use as my brand. I hosted my blog on it (which has now moved to nisha.reserved-bit.com) for a while, until the makerspace idea evolved. I was asked if I wanted to name the makerspace something else and not reserved-bit, but I feel the idea resonates well with the idea of my makerspace, a space reserved for exploration. So it was official – we would be called reserved-bit.
Now a maker-space wouldn’t be possible without actual physical space, so task one was to finalize a workshop-like place because by definition that is what a makerspace looks like. Real estate with decent internet connection and electricity backup in this part of the world is expensive to set up and scale. Further, we had other limitations which meant that we had to curtail our space requirement to about 1000 square feet of office space in Amanora Chambers which had almost everything set out of the box, reducing our capital investment. Siddhi joined us as member 3, a child psychologist and Autism therapist.
With the space finalised, we got immersed in the world of paperwork and also planning on furnishing and setting things up. This in fact is where we are right now, grappling with contractors to try and ensure that our space is in the initial state we want it to be.
I will keep blogging as our story evolves. Come join us and be part of the story. Join our mailing list and tell us what you’d like to see in your very own makerspace. See you soon!