Not all hackers are hanging out in Silicon Valley. As a matter of fact, we have a lot of hackers hanging out in Indiana. So where are hackers to go if they want to build something cool? Steve from BloomingLabs sat down for a fireside chat in Bloomington to talk about Bloomington’s own “Hackerspace” and what it’s really like to be involved in such a high-tech community.

Key Takeaways

Never Overlook Humble Beginnings

The name evokes confidence. When I hear “BloomingLabs,” I immediately think of some expensive building on IU’s campus, freshly renovated with a giant ribbon cutting by President McRobbie. This hackerspace, however, started as the IU Robotics Club. The only reason it’s no longer the IU Robotics Club, in fact, is because all the members graduated and needed something else to do. Thus, BloomingLabs was born.

Value of Community

Steve insists that Bloomington is a great community for tech, and given the evidence, we’re inclined to agree. What makes this hackerspace work is the fact that they can pool resources. Given their robotics background, most of these folks like to work in hardware, and that can get expensive fast.

“I’m not spending $6,000 on a laser cutter,” Steve explained.

This culture of community reaches beyond their resources, though. Their community is built around an operating mode of trust and respect. It’s been remarked that tech spaces can get insular, but Steve has rejected this at BloomingLabs, saying “When you get a mix of people, they’ll have different ideas and be able to help each other out.”

Above all else, they’ve built a community that respects and honors its members:

“Rule #1: Be Excellent to Each Other”


In talking about the projects they’ve undertaken at BloomingLabs, Steve cites perseverance as one of the defining traits of the community. “We had some late nights trying to brain storm, thinking ‘oh, well I can’t miss work.'”

In the end, it comes down to your vision of yourself and your ability to push on.

“If we want to call ourselves a hackerspace, we have to make this happen.”

What were your key takeaways? Have you been involved with a hackerspace? How similar was your experience?