I’m fortunate to be on the mailing list of the DHMN (Distributed Hacker/Maker Network), a community group based in the Fox Valley area of northeast Wisconsin.  Their mission: “make, share, and learn.” They are looking to build a community-owned makerspace/hackerspace where people can meet, work, store equipment and supplies, and learn from one another. What draws me to this group is that they are showing systems savvy as they think about how to create a space (technology) and set of practices (organization) to help an innovative group of people move ahead. Managing people, organization, and tech -- in concert -- is the hallmark of systems savvy. Members of this network act. They are makers. But they also act thoughtfully, which makes them more likely to be long-term innovators. Three examples:

  • Email discussion around when and how to collaborate, triggered by IBMer Jodi Slater’sThe Psychology of Collaboration article. Focus on Slater’s comments around finding tools and practices that don’t weigh the collaboration down or limit early-stage participation. Technologies need to stay out of the way (don’t make people worry about messing up a pretty document). The community needs to have trust so that people will share half-baked ideas.
  • Member Bob Waldron’s blog post following a recent Make magazine article on turning libraries into techshops.  The author creates a call to action for the local Appleton, Wisconsin area with clear action items and opportunities for early-stage participation.
  • Member Mike Putnam’s post about why you would want an Appleton, WI Makerspace. Just enough background and then an invitation to locals to join DHMN, and for everyone to find their own makerspace on their own terms.

Enthusiasts have always been important to innovation. Email, blogs, and websites give us the opportunity to easily share our enthusiasm, but it still takes human energy and organization. DHMN provides a lovely case study in how to create a foundation for innovation. I look forward to their DHMN projects page continuing to grow.