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Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Hackerspaces give tinkerers room to work out 'next big thing'
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates famously once said his biggest competitive fear was "someone in a garage who is devising something completely new." His prophetic words came in 1998, while two Stanford grad students sat in a California garage working on a little thing called Google.
Today Google dominates the Internet search business with tech tentacles reaching into everything from email and satellite mapping to news and online advertising. And like Microsoft, it all started in the celebrated workplace of the American entrepreneur: the garage.
While garages are still a tool of many enterprising entrepreneurs, collective tinkering places called hackerspaces have begun to spring up across the U.S. and in Ohio -- modern, uber-garages where dozens of people, from trained engineers and tech enthusiasts to retirees and casual DIYers, work on what could be the "Next Big Thing."
Hackerspaces are well established in Europe, but the U.S. and, specifically, the Midwest, are catching up fast. There are at least six hackerspaces planned or up and running in Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dublin.