Apr 2, 2008

Building a 21st Century Mashup Space

I am building a 21st century public space. Think of it as a mashup of library-coworking space-gallery-cafe-future flexible (the as-yet-to-be-imagined purpose). This is not an isolated occurrence in a bored, overmediated mega-tropolis. It is happening simultaneously (a meme) all over the country and the world. We are building this new model because we need it and we need to build it ourselves from the ground up.

Libraries exist and they do their job well. But are they addressing the needs of urban adults (particularly 21-35 year olds) in the 21st century? See Nate Hill's excellent post on why this is necessary and why it's so damn hard to create new models in the already burdened public library. Also, I think we want something new, that we (as a population/generation/society) dictate.

Coworking is a toddler movement looking for evolution. It is a movement to create a community of cafe-like collaboration spaces for developers, writers and independents. See Citizen Space in San Francisco, IndyHall in Philly and New Work Space in NYC.

These spaces take the best elements of coffee shops and are social, energetic, and creative. But in addition they have the necessary aspects of workspaces, and are productive and functional. They offer indie workers the chance to have their own, affordable space.

And these models can evolve. My mashup space is all the above, plus:
  • Collaboration is the key. Multiple people working and engaging in a shared space.

  • Information is here. A librarian/curator/information person will always be present to act as a guide and connector of people and ideas. Through social software, users can share books/media.

  • Community is at the center of this experiment. It is both local and virtual. The space is dictated by us, the users.

  • Workable and non-invasive. Working can be anything: building software, plotting a new business, writing, reading, telling stories to kids.

  • Accessible and usable, it will endeavor to create both a financially, physically and psychologically accessible space.

  • Open and free for everyone. What happens here will be transparent and open. People working in collaborative spaces and talking about their ideas.

  • Sustainable and ecological because sharing space is better for the planet.

  • Beautiful and flexible because this makes it desirable to be there. Art will be incorporated in the space and change regularly.

The community decides what else happens here: movie nights (aka CitiCinema), openings, book clubs, demoshackathons (like Mash Pits), meetings, non-profit events, seminars’, salons’, art shows, book launches, meetups, etc.

This space will be downtown, in an accessible urban area, wireless (with laptop locks, etc), welcoming, friendly and serious.

It will NOT be a crashpad, library, lounge, restaurant, private, exclusive, remote, sterile.

Most important, there will be good people here and therefore good things will happen because this is a coworking environment.

Are you with me?

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