The main reason why I decided to explore San Francisco in the first place was because I had been reading about hacker/maker spaces and the sharing economy for a few months, and San Francisco seemed to be a Mecca for that. Noisebridge, I believe, is the preeminent example of everything that is related to the maker culture and the sharing economy!
Noisebridge is really an inspiration for the Makerboat project. First of all, it’s a completely open space. It’s privately run, but it’s open to anyone who wants to visit and work there. Yes, completely open not only means you can go there at ANY time, during weekdays, weekends and during any hours, even all night long (they were even installing a hammock and nap area for the hardcore noisebridgers!). It’s also very open because it is completely free. Noisebridge is financially supported thru donations and small merchandise items like cool T-shirts and stickers. I guess the rent in San Francisco for such a large space must be very expensive so I suppose that people attending Noisebridge are very generous, and you can experience generosity all around there.
Another way why it’s open is because it’s a free space for learning. There are several basic and intermediate courses and activities run by volunteers every day. It’s also open because the courses range from soldering skills, to arduino programming, to robot making, to brewery methods to make your own beer, to indoor gardening. It’s not only about electronics and computer hacking, it’s about applying hacking to any interesting subject! it’s like heaven! I am not good at programming, I just know some html scripting and website development using CMRs, so I wouldn’t consider myself a hacker, but I love creativity, finding alternative solutions to problems, researching, sharing experiences, learning by doing, so I love hacking in a broader sense. My father is a hacker with metal, machinery and even electronics, but he did not study anything formally, he just read a lot of technical books, invented many things at his workshop and just learned by coming up with solutions to problems. So, it’s great to know that being a maker or a hacker, is not only related to computers but to anything that really interests you. It can be photography, film making, assembling robots and drones and it can also be self sufficient urban farming.
Another fact that surprised me by visiting Noisebridge and getting a short introduction by one of their regulars was that anyone is welcome to come to Noisebridge, the only rule or value that you must follow and show to the other colleagues is that you have to be EXCELLENT to each other.