the first hackerspace in Bulgaria
I'm spending considerable amount in initLab and I must say it's rather cool to be part of the this emerging subculture here. Co-working places (like betahaus and SOHO or initLab's co-working apartment) in Bulgaria are cool (I wish about someone writing their wisdom for surviving in coworking space) but I like the feeling of thriving in a hackerspace more.
It's all about the people
I like that initLab is a place to meet some of the brightest people in the IT industry that are willing to share their knowledge. You can meet a lot of veterans and gurus and basicaly there's a lot of wisdom sharing going on. Sometimes I feel for everyday that I'm out of initLab - I'm missing something great.
There're always new people coming just to "look around" or have a friendly chat. That's why I think my headphones are a way to indicate I'm busy. So surviving with so much people around is all about your willingness to communicate with them. For example I frequently collect feedback for my projects. This instant feedbacks are great if you're building some product or planning a new feature. The people here may not be the targeted market but they are tech savvy (most of the time) and are willing to socialize or just debate about something.
Feng shui the hackerspace way
I found something comfortable with the hackerspace culture - some may call it "nerdy" others "geeky" but the athmosphere is totally in sync with my interests. So in order to survive I think someone should consider what's his character - is he a "hipster" or "entrepreneur" or some crazy programmer/gamer? If it's the last, the person can feel much more comfortable staying in hackerspace.
There's a lot of learning activities - courses, lectures, workshops etc. some of them for free and all from knowledgable people. Most of the events happening have some kind of tangible learning involved. My favorite event formats are:
- Surgeries - practical discussions. The event have roles - the doctors are people with know-how, the patient is a product/service that needs a surgery and the bystanders are assistents :) It's fun, fast and valuable for everyone.
- Crashcourses - 3 to 4 hours lecture explaining almost everything about a given technology from birds eye view. If you want to start with some new language/framework consider watching a crashcourse about it ;)
- Gameplay fridays - social gathering for gamers while showing cool games and discussing them.
- Game Craft fridays - playing different board games and learning their mechanics.
- Design jams - it's like hackathons but for designers :)
Some other noteworhy events are:
- massage workshops
- DJ workshop
- watching movies
- LAN parties
- watching a great deal of Star Craft II tournament finals :D
Teaching and organizing
In initLab everyone can be a learner and a teacher. Some people are not considering that in the process of sharing your knowledge with someone, you can learn new cool things. I initiated some of my favorite events and learned a lot just by doing it - on how to organize everything, strive to make it cool and valuable. Other than that I think the teaching part of being an active hackerspace member can increase my chances of finding people with similar interests like mine or ignite some unknown sparks in them.
Be part of it
Thinking out of the box and adding value to the place where you hang out during the day/evening is a great feeling. Having the power to organize an event only for gamers, for example, can enrich initLab's ecosystem thus I'm starting to feel how my contributions are added to the overall feeling of initLab. Which is great because I don't have such powers in common workplaces.
In ordinary offices I can only personalize my desk and nothing more. In initLab I can donate a book, organize an event/meeting/lecture/course etc. or just help a little with the cleaning. So in order to survive in such self-organizing place I think someone should get out of his comfort zone and be part of the self-organizing principles in order to feel how initLab can be something more personal than just a co-working place :) I like the phrase "help initLab so initLab can help you"!
Be creative, stay cool and have fun :) This is generalizing my wisdom about surviving in a hackerspace as initLab.