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[liberationtech] Fwd: [hackerdojo] DARPA Funding for Hackerspaces: Good or Evil?

Moritz Bartl moritz at
Mon Dec 5 23:49:19 PST 2011

On 06.12.2011 06:48, Yosem Companys wrote:
> Interesting coincidence that while liberationtech was talking about
> funding and net activism, the hacker spaces (e.g., Noisebridge,
> HackerDojo, etc.) have been having a similar discussion... 

In my opinion, the best statement regarding DARPA funding for
hackerspaces was made by Mitch Altman on the list:

Let me quote it here in full:
---- snip ----
My view is a bit different.  You don't have to agree, but please
consider:  DARPA is a government agency that exists to further its
goals.  It seems to me that those goals are to make things easier and
better for hurting and killing other people.  It seems to me that this
is why they exist.  If people working for DARPA are giving grant money
away, it is to further the goals of DARPA.  This isn't to say that good
things can't be done with DARPA money.  But DARPA is spending this money
explicitly to further the goals of DARPA -- and it *will* be used to
further those goals.

Werner von Braun was an incredible visionary.  He wanted to explore
space!  It was his lifelong dream.  He found an opportunity for funding
his dream when Hitler offered to pay for him to make rockets.  Those
rockets were used to destroy the lives of civilians in London in the
form of V2 missiles.  After the war, he was eventually hired by NASA to
make rockets that eventually became the basis of the US space program.
Was this a good trade off?  I know how I feel.  I don't want to tell
others what to do, or what to think or feel.  Please make up your own mind.

In my mind, I would rather change projects than hurt others in order to
fulfill the goals of my project.  But, before changing projects, perhaps
there are other means of funding it, or allowing the project to proceed.
 Those other means are way worth exploring.

One other point I feel is worth considering:  A powerful method of
marketing is to associate PRODUCT X with a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Repeat that enough times, and enough people subconsciously associate a
warm-fuzzy feeling with PRODUCT X, and sales of PRODUCT X go up some
percentage.  PRODUCT X can be dish soap, a soft drink, a TV show, a
political candidate, a banana republic dictator, green-washing corporate
image -- anything the people paying for the marketing request.  PRODUCT
X can also be DARPA.  If we make more warm and fuzzy associations with
DARPA (by using their money for what we feel is *good*), then some
people will more likely feel it is OK to work for an agency to further
the goals of DARPA -- and those goals may not be in line with what you
believe is of true benefit to you and those around you.  Or it may.
Again, please think this through for yourself.  And please make a
conscious choice.

---- snip ----

Moritz Bartl

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