What do we call ourselves?

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What do we call ourselves?

Postby DanBackslide » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:59 pm

There has been an ongoing discussion amongst the Board members (and other members as well) on the matter of the name of our group. There hasn't been a consistent, standard naming scheme set forth, so we thought the members should have a say before we make any decisions on it.

Right now, we have two names in general use:
  • Twin Cities Maker is the original name for our group, established in 2009.
  • The Hack Factory is the name of the building.

The Board affirmed this at the 2/16/2011 board meeting, but it was never announced or made more generally known. Thus, we've had some people calling the group "Twin Cities Maker", and some calling us "the Hack Factory", and in general causing some confusion.

Three options have been discussed by the Board:

  • Remain as we are now -- the group is Twin Cities Maker, the space is the Hack Factory. Make Twin Cities Maker prominent as the group name, and restrict usage of Hack Factory to references to the physical space/location.
  • Switch to the Hack Factory, and abolish the Twin Cities Maker name entirely.
  • Use only Twin Cities Maker, and remove the Hack Factory name entirely.

We're looking for input, so post your thoughts here, and/or talk to your friendly neighborhood Board members when you see them.
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Re: What do we call ourselves?

Postby DanBackslide » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:00 pm

OK, that's the (semi-)official part done. Now here's my opinion on the matter:

Keep the status quo. Twin Cities Maker is the group, the Hack Factory is the place.

Here's my reasoning...

"Hack" is a dirty word

Not among our crowd, to be sure, but our crowd is exceedingly small. There are a lot of potential members out there who don't have a connection to "hacker culture", and see the word only in its predominant sense of criminality. They'd be at least wary of joining a group of hackers, if not immediately turned away from it. There are a lot of potential donors in the same position.

I had my daughter ask her friends to define "hacker"; they all responded with the criminal sense. These are 14 - 16 year old kids, and they don't see being a hacker as a positive thing. I'll agree that's not good, but that's where the language is at the moment, and we're not going to change that any time soon. I don't want to fight that perception in the meantime.

"Hacker" is exclusionary

Hackers generally work on scientific or technical things: computer hackers, circuit hackers, biology hackers. But we have lots of wood and metal enthusiasts, artists, musicians and tinkerers to go along with the hackers. "Maker" is a much more inclusive term; it doesn't presume a particular skill set.

Twin Cities Maker is the main name in use

Strange that we're having this discussion at all, but Twin Cities Maker really is the main name that's been put out to the world. Search for "Hack Factory" on Google, Bing, Yahoo, hackerspaces.org. What words start off the top result? Twin Cities Maker, every time. (Yes, it says "Hack Factory" too, that's why I want to keep both.)

Twin Cities Maker is the original name

Paul set up the domain name and original forum, which got this whole crazy-quilt going. See http://blog.makezine.com/2009/01/11/twin-cities-maker-hacker-space-prop/

Having two names isn't confusing, as long as we're consistent

The Twins play at Target Field. The Wild play at Xcel Energy Center. The Twin Cities Makers play at the Hack Factory. As long as we stay consistent -- TCMaker is the organization, the Hack Factory is the venue -- there won't be confusion.
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Re: What do we call ourselves?

Postby Orkraider » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:13 am

My one cent worth:

I'd like to see one name for both the space and the organization.

More importantly, I'd like to know what our members think about the issue.

Scott makes excellent logical points, as have others with an opinion.

I'd like to hear more of those opinions.

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Re: What do we call ourselves?

Postby wammie » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:11 pm

Well stated, Scott!

I'm in strong agreement with all of Scott's personal arguments for keeping the status quo, for logical, practical, and personal reasons.

I stand to enforce Scott's perspective with some more observations.

I've been part of the organization from about three months after the website originated in January 2009. From that time, I knew the organization as "Twin Cities Maker." I volunteered to be on the first board that summer, and continued in service as Vice President for three years and as a participant or committee member in many of our important activities.

Early on, we constructed a logo with a stylized "T" and "C" and I/we put in hundreds of hours working with that identity, creating graphics, developing our online presence, and otherwise establishing that brand. Our websites have been maintained and entrenched as "twincitiesmaker.org" and "tcmaker.org." Granted, I have some personal bias from this, but I'd hate to see all that work be diminished by name changes and I don't even want to contemplate future work needed to change or undo all that.

"Hack Factory" came from our fortuitous meeting with a similar group having that name. Of course, that group had a preference for the Hack Factory moniker, but we mutually decided that leveraging the established TC Maker brand would make sense for the group, and "Hack Factory" sounded like a great name for a space. Logically, "factory" has stronger connotation as a space than a group. To my knowledge, after adopting this arrangement the original Hack Factory group was content and never made strong demands to reconsider our group name.

Consequentially, making changes from the status quo, in my estimation, would a big step backward, a waste of energy, and source of frustration on many levels. No doubt this type of move would cause some headaches in the legal department, forcing us to rewrite and refile organizational papers.

Another argument: Twin Cities Maker gives us an identity independent of spaces. What if at some point we were able to operate a second space?

We should not readily dismiss the exposure and tradition we've been given in the media, which has consistently identified our group as "Twin Cities Maker."

To say that "there hasn't been a consistent, standard naming scheme set forth" doesn't ring true for me, since I've been involved in the naming decisions along our journey and understand where and how our names came to be.

I'd rather suggest that "there hasn't been a consistent, standard naming scheme in usage." I can readily understand people saying "I'm from the Hack Factory." When speaking among hacker/maker circles, an audience might somehow be clued in to "the Twin Cities group." Or they might not. The general public would be less clued in. If we identify first as Twin Cities Maker, there is an immediate hint of where we're from. To say "we're the Hack Factory group" is perhaps a natural thing to do, but not a usage that fully reflects the "standard naming scheme set forth."

I too find it strange that we're having this discussion at all. Some in our community seem to have their hooks sunk in to the hacking aspect of our activities. This is a valuable part of our identity, but I agree with Scott that we are more than that. Yes, our name should foster inclusiveness more than exclusiveness, and the greater potential for growth that comes with that.

And giving due respect to Paul Sobczak and other founders of the organization, I'd consider a name change as a detraction from the inspired foundation and legacy.

Let's keep moving forward, people! The status quo isn't causing any real problems, but embarking on the business of renaming will only put us on a fruitless and unrewarding path.

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Re: What do we call ourselves?

Postby jwb » Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:27 am

I'd like to throw in my vote for Hack Factory as the sole name of our group.

To Scott's point that "Hack" is a bad word that freaks people out: Guess what? We already have the word Hack in our name. Also, catering to fools won't get us anywhere. And I disagree that "Hack" is exclusionary. The classic definition of the hack is a clever solution, and you need and want clever solutions even in a wood shop.

I don't care if TCM is our original name. The HF is who we are now; there's nothing else besides the HF.

To wammie's point that he put a lot of graphic design work into the logo: Sorry, that's not a reason. Speaking as a graphic design professional (I've been doing design and production art for 17 years) the "branding" of the group is unimportant to the point of absurdity. While I appreciate all of the work wammie and the others did on the brand, the amount of work put into the identity doesn't add to its value. A logo that took 100 person-hours to craft isn't twice as cool as the logo that took 50 hours to make. The graphic design flows from the important stuff, which is what name we want. Not the other way around.

Mainly I like "Hack Factory" because it's fun. Twin Cities Maker might be accurate, but it's boring and vanilla.
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Re: What do we call ourselves?

Postby Thorpedo » Tue Jul 17, 2012 4:51 pm

I heard somewhere once that the local metropolitan municipalities were going to phase out using the Twin Cities as a designator since it doesn't make much sense anymore as the rest of the combined metropolitan area and population is now larger than Minneapolis and St. Paul combined.

:idea: Instead of either of those names, how about calling ourselves "Minnesota Makers"? :twisted: Just kidding!

Still, if somebody would come up with a really cool logo for the Hack Factory that would be good argument for using that.

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