Hacking for the community

A Prishtina-based organization provides a space for people with different interests to come together, work and create.

Prishtina Hackerspace is an open community space with tools and equipment available for members to “hack”. The term “hack” is used to describe the creation or recreation of different technologies and materials into something new.

It was co-founded by Altin Ukshini and Gent Thaci, both 21 and from Kosovo, in 2015 after a year of garnering interest and support throughout Prishtina.

The idea developed after participating in a Hackerspace community in the United States during their exchange abroad.

Ukshini and Thaci, along with the help of other Hackerspace members and donors, completely renovated an abandoned house that now serves as their current home.

Individuals and businesses donated most of the technology and furniture in the space; most recently Hackerspace received a partial donation for a 3D printer, an ever-evolving technology. Some advanced models hold great biological, archaeological and commercial promise.

Ukshini explains that they chose the term “Hackerspace” in order to raise awareness that “hacking” is not always bad. They use the term to describe the enhancement of a product or  technology’s function with the aim of  reaching its full potential (essentially using their imagination to refurbish a piece of technology or material for a new purpose).

For them, hacking means that anyone of every profession can “hack” and utilize the space.

“We don’t want to be only focused on technology, but arts and culture as well,” says Ukshini.

He places a great deal of importance on equality and diversity in the Hackerspace. Currently, musicians, artists, business people, and students of all ages and genders use Hackerspace both as members and non-members.

Members pay a small, monthly fee that serves as a donation towards the place’s maintenance. Hackerspace does not have any paid staff and all projects and events are organized on a voluntary basis.

Events include everything from “hacking” beer, where participants learned how to make beer, to learning about free computer software, such as Fedora.

Although based in Prishtina, Hackerspace fosters relationships with other similar spaces outside of Kosovo. Elio Qoshi, 20, and Boris Momiroski, 15, travelled from Albania on Saturday, March 26 to participate and lead a collaborative event in Prishtina Hackerspace.

Qoshi emphasizes the ideals of open source, a computer software, that allows anyone to view and edit the code to a programme, making it a common property.

Open source is also (according to the open source site) a set of values to, “embrace and celebrate open exchange and collaborative participation.”

The values of open source are reflected in the ideals of Hackerspace.

“Open space, like open source, like open ideology,” says Ukshini, smiling.

The emphasis on the openness and cooperation is visible in the projects organized at the Hackerspace.

“All projects are run by Hackerspace members, so it is not us as an entity, it is us as a community,” explains Ukshini.

Agreeing with this Momiroski says that the greatest thing he has learned from Hackerspace is not technological, rather that, “Everyone is equal and we are all powerful when we work together.”

04/04/2016 - 16:04

04 April 2016 - 16:04

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.