By this point, most everyone is well acquainted with the successful startup Geekdom. The company has received much spotlight lately with all of their community events and social media churning its wheels.
I invite you to come with me to a different technological world: a hackerspace. Don’t be fooled. Although the word sounds intimidating, it’s just a physical space where people can meet and work on their projects. 10BitWorks is a hackerspace here in San Antonio located on 1020 Roosevelt near Highway 90. This Saturday, August 25, the group was hosting an open house to celebrate their two-year anniversary. After overcoming the hurdle of an incorrect address on the flyer, I spotted a sign and entered into a world of technology.
Four men barely lifted their heads as I walked through the door, they were too preoccupied focusing on their respective projects. After the necessary introductions, Mike Perez a young man who doesn’t look quite geeky enough, pointed up at a bar holding 8 shirts with wires coming out of them. These shirts highlighting a deep-sea diver surrounded by a group of jellyfish were worn at San Antonio’s annual Luminaria event which hosts a celebration of art and artists. The shirts were programmed with LEDs and a small control, which changed the sequence of the lights and their pattern. It was clear these shirts were very much a point of pride for the group. When I asked why they weren’t wearing their shirts, I was told “the batteries have been in here since May.”
10BitWorks, a registered nonprofit, is comprised of 20 paying members with more on their mailing list who offer their resources and time. Their slogan “COME AND MAKE IT” ultimately sums up their mission. People are welcome to come and utilize the space and the tools available to tinker as they please. If there is a creativity block, you might find these guys playing video games or board games such as Risk and Power Grid.
While I was picking Perez’s brain apart on the nonprofit, Chris Hardee spoke up from the soldering station: “I need to make some noise.” Mike pointed out you wouldn’t necessarily experience this anywhere else, it’s an organic environment where people are brought together by their love of creating.
The space reminded me of a roomy garage housing cluttered tables covered with tools, parts and books that kids only dream of. A computer with animation software sits in a corner for communal use. Saturday, a local hacker, Gregory Bluntzer was working on a game contest called “Ludum Dare” with the theme of Evolution. He was creating animals on a program called Blender – all self-taught. To his left sits a 3-D printer he has started to build.
What sets 10BitWorks apart is that they host workshops for the community such as a soldering class, a welding class and of the most interest to a technologically-challenged person: a beer brewing class. These classes are free or fairly cheap as the goal is to keep them affordable so people will come.
Greg spoke to the premise of 10BitWorks: “not everybody needs to have tools if they have an apartment or if they are a student. They may not have access to these resources.” In these instances it’s cheaper if everybody uses a communal space.
A young family came in with a 7 year old boy wearing a “Minecraft” t-shirt boasting about his obsession and skill with the video game. He was in heaven. He walked around admiring the freehand laser tag set, an old arcade game rigged up with a fancy monitor, and of course the LED shirts. As a 10BitWorks member tentatively pulled up his laptop to share his Minecraft environment with the little boy, you could see his face light up.. “C-c-c-an I play?”
This is the draw for all ages. A space to come and create where no judgment is passed and all are welcomed. All you need is passion and a vision.