Belfast Hackerspace Anyone?

Andrew Bolster

Senior R&D Manager (Data Science) at Synopsys Software Integrity Group and Treasurer @ Bsides Belfast and NI OpenGovernment Network

Contrary to popular belief, the concept of a ‘hacker’ (or at least self described ones) has very little to do with coding and networking wizards pounding through systems and stealing valuable information or just destroying everything they touch. In fact, Google (and Princeton University’s) first definition of the word has more to do with Golf than security (try it by googling “define:hacker”).

The so called ‘hacker subculture’ is usually taken as a group of not necessarily like minded, but creative individuals with or without technical or theoretical skill, including artistsmusicianscarpentersmachinists, or extreme knitters, and can generally be shortened down to ‘tinker-ers’ or ‘messers’.Belfast is a growing hub of technology, software, and art of all forms within Europe; and with Londonderry being named the ‘City of Culture’ for 2013, it is clear the Northern Ireland is no longer (or never was?) the poor child of British (and Irish) creativity and excellence.

Unfortunately, there are currently no operational, open, shared spaces for technical / creative people to get together and collaborate on projects or experiments outside of academic circles. Compare that to the Republic of Ireland, which is home to six so called ‘HackerSpaces’ and 25 on the mainland (plus one defunct previous attempt to kick off a HackerSpace called HackNI.

I have set up a public Google Group to bring people from the technical, industrial, academic, and creative fields to begin to thrash out the concept of a Belfast Hackerspace and investigate the viability of such an undertaking.

Hackerspaces are generally not-for-profit independent (but occasionally sponsored) organisations, so I am not asking for creation of a ‘Hacker Club’ in the QUB or UU SU, but a truely separate and self-governed entity.

I’ve waxed lyrical enough; this is a well trodden path with many shared lessons learned and archived online.

The group is at and your personal and/or professional input would be greatly appreciated.

If you believe anyone else would like to be involved in this, please don’t hesitate to forward this link to them or post the content of this post in any public or private service. (In line with Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Licence please


~Good activity so far; we now have a Facebook Group and a Semi-regular meetup, as well as an entry in

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