About the project

According to Wikipedia, a hackerspace is “a community-operated, often Not For Profit workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, machining, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate”.

Such spaces encourage a mix of genuine curiosity, hands-on approach, bravery to open black boxes and use things in ways they weren’t designed to. Values are alien to Universities, unseen in most software houses or NGOs.

It’s not only about technology, either. The activists from Hackerspaces are fighting for a lot of causes. They protect the universal right to privacy and ensure governments’ transparency. They help local communities understand the new, digitized world. Knowing how to use modern tools they are able to achieve much more than regular journalists or social workers.

Mitch Altman giving a workshop in Noisebridge Hackerspace, CC-BY-SA Mitch Altman 2015

With all the Hackerspaces’ richness, they’re surprisingly absent from the popular culture. When someone says “hacker”, most people think about either a lone-wolf black hat, or a hacktivist bent on destroying the world’s order. No one visualizes communities building things together, learning and educating. It’s almost impossible to imagine them taking part in a political discourse or working with the society at large.

I think that hacker values - the hacker ethos - are what we need in our culture. With all the grim dystopias shown as the only way for the humanity to go - the CCC philosophers are calling not to give up and not to give in. Working together, creating and sharing knowledge - those are realistic ideals people can strive for. Maybe it’s a time for a whole new sci-fi genre build around hackers?

There have been some notions of the “real” hackers in the culture already. Cory Doctorow mentioned them in several of his novels: “Makers”, “Homeland” and “Little Brother”, describing several different aspects of the movement. I feel he didn’t paint the whole picture. A Hackerspace is a bustling community of different people: hardware tweakers, activists and educators, infosec guys on their Mate-fueled CTFs, artists trying to create something no one has imagined before and anarchists working to bring more power to the people.

Suzanne working on her EMG interface, CC-BY-SA Kimiooon 2016

This project aims to offer exactly that: a graphic novel featuring a space where different people meet, each with their own approach to hacking and ideas about the movement. Some of them will work well together, others will clash, and each conflict will be different.

Glider Ink is a non-profit project. Its goal is to allow the widest audience possible to learn what hackerspaces are - and get inspired.

In the spirit of open source I’d like to license the (web)comic under Creative Commons CC-BY-SA. Providing all source files will allow everybody to translate or improve it. It’s being written in English and Polish with some notes for translators already built-it.

All the illustrations for the comic you will see on this blog are licensed under CC-BY-SA as well.

Felix the bartender, CC-BY-SA Cybernecrocat 2016

I expect the first “story arc” to take about 150 pages, featuring five main characters. The story should be both accessible to the people from outside of the culture - and entertaining to those within. I’ve decided to go with a fictional Hackerspace and characters for more creative freedom. Given that, all technology and social movements should be represented as realistically as possible.

The story I’ve written so far takes place in a non-specific European city, where Glider is the only running hackerspace. Due to a lot of misconceptions about the hackers being only white, I’d like to keep the cast a little more diverse - with guests or cameos from Palestinian, Iraqi, Kenyan or Filipino spaces. Glider’s relation to existing hacker organizations such as CCC is not yet established.

I’m looking for an artist interested in co-creating the whole project. I’ve requested commissions from several illustrators already, but haven’t been able to find a long-term partner. All the funds for the first several months of work are already there - and we should open Patreon / PayPal / BTC wallet for donations as soon as we start delivering something. Sadly, I can’t give you any hard estimates yet.

Adam, space's activist and educator, CC-BY-SA Kimiooon 2016

You can read more about the gallery of characters that you’ll meet on the course of the story.

If you are reading it from the 33rd Chaos Communication Congress, there should be stickers somewhere. Go look for them and join #glider-ink on Freenode to discuss the project!