Meet: Noisebridge

Meet: Noisebridge

Noisebridge was one of the first hackerspaces to open in the USA. It’s part of the wave of spaces founded after a group of American hackers including Noisebridge’s co-founder, Mitch Altman, visited existing European hackerspaces including c-base and Metalab after the 2007 Chaos Communication Camp in Germany and decided to set up their own hackerspaces back home.

A work area with various 3D printing machines and consumables.

The 3D printing area

Noisebridge operates as an anarchist hackerspace with minimal organisational structures. Anyone can come and work in the space whilst it’s open – whenever there’s a keyholder present – and they operate as a do-ocracy where people are free to make changes to the space, but are encouraged to check with other users first if their changes might impact on them. It’s one of the most well known hackerspaces worldwide and was a key influence on the formation of the first hackerspaces in the UK, and Mitch travels around the world running soldering workshops in different hackerspaces.

A power socket installed in the leg of a wooden table. A sticker under the socket says, "This table is hackable!"

A hackable LED table with built-in power supplies

Located on Mission Street in the middle of San Francisco’s Mission district, Noisebridge has a large 3rd floor workspace with a chill out area, VR room, two workshops (one called the Sparkle Forge) and a classroom space. It has a library, electronics and soldering tools, wood and metal-working tools, 3D printers and sewing machines, and the large main work area usually has people hacking on code projects. They have events on most evenings, ranging from workshops on programming and online privacy to weekly bike rides and sewing meetups, plus weekly organising meetings on Tuesdays which anyone is free to attend.

A table with a sewing machine and sewing supplies. There is a poster on the wall in the background of Ted from "Bill and Ted".

Part of Noisebridge’s sewing area, with “Ted” Theodore Logan in the background with Noisebridge’s motto: “Be excellent to each other!”

Membership works a bit differently to other hackerspaces: anybody can start using the hackerspace, request a key, and start paying donations to them, but you need to apply to become a full member and then start paying regular monthly dues of $40 upwards. Definitely pop in and visit them if you’re in the area 🙂

More photos of Noisebridge are available on Flickr.

Header image: A mural of Nikola Tesla and Margaret Hamilton