Geek Speak: Dan Royer, Vancouver Hack Space member

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Dan Royer is among the roughly 180 members of Vancouver Hack Space. The nonprofit group’s aim is to provide a welcoming place for computer programmers, artists, engineers, and other tinkers to meet up and work together on creative projects of all sorts.

Based out of a studio at 270 East 1st Avenue, just off of Main Street, the group holds regular events including 3-D-printer nights, craft nights, and open nights for non-members. The member-run space is brimming with tools, equipment, and materials to inspire inventions and innovations.

Royer, who has been a Vancouver Hack Space member for around a year and a half, also runs a business called Marginally Clever, which creates educational robotic kits.

The Georgia Straight reached Royer by phone.

What is Vancouver Hack Space all about?

In the '50s and '60s everyone had their own garage and you heard about people who started their businesses in their garage. These days rent is too high and population is too high so these people have all banded together to create a group space where they can work and collaborate together.

It’s like the Internet made real. Instead of forums where you go and chat with your friends about something you love, you come here and you meet them face-to-face and you can actually work together on amazing projects; everything from crafting to making a new circuit board to 3-D printing. Pretty much anything you can name. Modifying Nerf guns. It’s all over the place.

What exactly is “hacking”?

Hacking is the art of taking things apart, learning how they work, doing new things to them, exploring, and self-educating. Self-motivated discovery might be a good way of putting it.

What is your group’s location like?

We had 800 square feet [in the group’s former location] and we’ve moved up to just about 2,000 square feet. We call it “the bunker”. It’s a brightly lit space with huge ceilings and every wall is covered in tools and equipment and computer monitors and cool posters and blinking lights. If any of those things interest you, your eyes might pop out of your head when you come and visit.

What kinds of backgrounds and interests do your members have?

It’s all over the board. We have several videogame programmers. We have management people. We have crafting people. We have fans of SCA [the Society for Creative Anachronism]; you know, the people who like to dress in suits of armour and re-enact battles and things. We have professionals. All walks of life…. We have the whole rainbow here.

What’s the main benefit of joining the group?

Building connections, networking, collaborating, sharing knowledge, and having an absolutely fantastic time.

Every other Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Thomson on Twitter.

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