Use your local library.
During the year we started Matasano our Chicago team spent about 40%-50% of our time working from the Oak Park Public Library, sometimes in meeting rooms we booked, more often at study desks. It was great. The Internet access wasn't amazing but it was totally functional and we could VPN out through it. The desks and working space were if anything better than what we have now (and we really like our office).
There were times I worried that we were being a burden, but the impression I get is that it's the opposite. What's deadly for a local library is for nobody from the community to be using it, for it to have no stakeholders from the tax base of the community. The library staff was always welcoming to us.
Your hip coffee shop on the other hand hates you with a passion it normally reserves for Scott Stapp solo albums. At the coffee shop, you take up space in a business that's driven by turnover. Someone's going to chime in here with a story about a coffee shop that truly loves the startups that park themselves at their tables and order 3 count them 3 cups of coffee in a day, but I've talked to hipster coffee shop people oh-yes-I-have and at least some of you who truly believe you're doing your coffee shop a favor are being tolerated gracefully, not welcomed, like you would be at your local library.
Libraries have an obvious role to grow into as IT hubs for their communities, now that so much of their knowledge-disseminating role has been subsumed by IT. But another related less obvious role is as a hub for local entrepreneurship; thing thing "hackerspaces" are supposed to do, but are (for so many companies) suboptimal at.
Libraries, in my opinion, are a model of what social services should look like: universally beneficial, only practical at the community level, little chance of moral hazard or conflict of interest by any party involved (don't return a book, you lose check out privileges - the only one hurt is the perp).
Next time you think of buying a book, seriously check out your local library system.
That's actually a pretty great insight. If you think of the library as a potential piracy haven, you might even consider going as far as calling them a storefront of The Pirate Bay if libraries were invented today.
That's expensive only because no one actually uses the online lending service, since rich/tech people value convenience, and the people for whom a $9.99 ebook is a big enough expense to warrant the inferior search, wait, etc. are probably not technology early adopters (or can't afford a $79 Kindle).
It might make sense in a school library environment, though. Or, with sufficient assistance in setting it up, audiobooks for the reading-impaired (a helpful librarian, or an audio-only UI to search/download books).
I'd hate the thought that I have checked out a book I could otherwise afford to buy and deprived the use to someone that could not. Or that I am using a computer to read Hackernews that an ex-convict needs to use to apply for a government program to keep his grandson alive.
Using the library deprives a slice of the pie to the very people that need it more than you. If you use the library and you can afford the alternative, then you are just as bad as the people that want to close it.
One library within my father's system cut all books below a certain circulation.
They did not bother checking whether the books could be considered "important" by some other metric. So much scientific and classical work was gotten rid of.
So don't just use the library, use the specific bits of it that you want to keep. You are doing nobody any favors by letting it sit idle.
How about other needs governments sometimes provide to the less fortunate, such as food, shelter, medical care, and universal education?
Public education is also important, but I would hardly say its a model social program. Everyone benefits from an educated population, again, in an optimal case, there is little conflict of interest, and in general, it elevates the lives of those using the service. At the same time, it's something that could be done privately in the home or without any government intervention - and for most of history it was. It's also a bloated beauracratic mess, a representation of just how inefficient government programs can be. There are fantastic people in the trenches in schools being led by goons and politicians with little interest or knowledge about what is good for developing kids.
Unfortunately, much of this spending fails to encourage behaviors that actually move people out of poverty. If you are receiving assistance, any money you earn above a certain amount threatens your assistance. So you hide it or stay below the arbitrary limit. This is not the way to encourage honesty or industry.
How long were things done that way, despite the facts? Decades. And that's the problem with government administering charity. It doesn't look at the results and adjust its approach until outcomes improve. Its driven by political considerations. And when it does measure reality, it measures those things that make it look successful.
And why should it look honestly at outcomes? Government doesn't have to convince you to support a program. Unlike private charity, it can make you fund it. You probably don't even realize what you're funding.
While that is likely true, in other segments of the population, such as vulnerable children, providing food, shelter and health care encourages "not dying".
I agree, but there are something like 250,000 books published each year.
At just $5 per book that's $1,250,000 just to buy each year's worth of books, never mind the staff to do the buying and unpacking and cataloguing and stocking and lending etc etc.
 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_published_per_country_per...) (but go careful because who knows where the wikipedia numbers come from)
 A ridiculously low figure. Here's some UK data; not sure where it comes from. (http://www.holtjackson.co.uk/cgi-perl/web_avg_book_price.pl)
Local libraries are pretty cheap. Programs to give books to poor children may not be as cost effective. Giving computers to poor children may simply result in them being sold, either by the kids or their parents.
Commercial libraries (proprietary libraries) have existed. They typically catered to the kind of people who paid a lot for membership - upper middle class professionals. If we relied on commercial public libraries today, they would be stacked with O'Reilly's books, Tolkien, popular economics, management books, and the like.
Then pay for the warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get for doing something that benefits others.
the sense of something being a 'good deed' comes from expecting harmony and general social cooperation (reciprocity) and since the cause effect is so disconnected and complex - it's too difficult to grasp with reason (for some people) and just has to be felt in this way. (?)
also the neurological 'mirroring' and empathy
.. anyways. people who want and use the library should pay for it. people who don't should not pay. isn't this fair?
People who want and use the roads should pay for them. People who don't shouldn't be allowed to drive or walk anywhere. Isn't that fair?
People who want and use the police department should pay for it. People who don't should have no protection. Isn't that fair?
People who want and use the fire department should pay for it. People who don't should have to stand by and watch their house burn to the ground. Isn't that fair?
fire insurance includes fire department service. you can go cheap and risk burning down but it's more likely that decent friendly neighbours will gladly cover yours if you can't. or you can move to more affordable housing within your means
health insurance with discounts for taking care of yourself
competition between doctors and between pharmaceuticals driving innovation, skills and real results forward while driving prices down.
would you rather get chemo for pennies while someone else can get immortality for millions or would you rather pay millions for chemo equally with everyone else
private or shared roads according to free will and common mutual interest
i don't want just anyone to come in to my house as they please. or my driveway, or if my driveway is very long = my road
i'm responsible for my property amd my own actions. i don't want to tell you what to do and i don't want your money. we can agree to exchange things for mutual benefit and i will do everything i can to keep to agreed terms - staking my word and reputation
there is nothing wrong with public libraries or charity regardless if selfish or for common good as long as it's funded with free will instead of threat of tax prison
crappy mismanaged unused library should go broke while the good library can pay for itself with fees and donations
just like your startup
One of the reasons for a nationalised fire service was because Insurance-company funded firemen had a tendency to be arsonists.
You: "the market organises to elevate the best and raise standards for all others"
Everybody else: "And I'm the Queen of England."
"The market" is not some intelligent, charitable entity. It's an abstraction employed to talk about how participating entities allocate their resources. It categorically does not help everyone. In fact, in many cases it can hurt everyone (the most famous example is the tragedy of the commons, but that's hardly the only way markets can go bad). Read the OP: What is the market going to do for that guy with no money?
From your comments so far, it seems like you believe he should just curl up and die in the cold. And most people don't believe that's a good answer at all.
Which our op, with his subscription to police protection, believes he will be protected from.
Course he has to assume that he and the others like him have paid sufficiently to keep his mercenaries/rent-a-cops armed and motivated enough to protect them.
I'm fine with universal (modulo pacifists and those not capable of handling a gun) individual gun ownership. Combined with anything resembling rule of law, in that case armed robbery quickly drops off the list of "what it takes to survive", because it no longer results in long survival. The criminals will always be outnumbered.
But let's get back to the real topic. Fact is, I like libraries. I think they're very positive for everyone in many ways, in particular for being an intellectually-oriented gathering place.
New to these particular arguments, so your first sentence was perspective adding. Should have realized though that the strong libertarian bent to HN would make a lot of arguments old.
That said: In my defence, I'm neither for nor against the topic, and wasn't making the arguments you suggested I was. I was alluding to large groups of criminals overwhelming or out-gunning paid protection at some point of the scale.
As you said, lets get back to the real topic - libraries are great. Although it did seem like computer education and literacy was one of the major draws - perhaps people here could help by helping an NGO which provided volunteers to help people fill forms up or give them computer education?
I kind of think maybe a better reason might be because a commenter engages in trolling or some other behavior that's out of bounds, which might very well be the case here with Mikey7. But I appreciate having this thought process behind downvotes as they are actually used ("I disagree with what you say ... Downvote for you!") so clearly stated.
Even speaking as an agorist, your faith in the market is a little extreme. It certainly has some useful and beneficial efficiencies to be sure, but believing that it will simply elevate the best and create a rising tide that will raise all standards is a little naive I think with regards to what we see in the world where markets reign.
Assuming humans are perfectly rational agents with equal information it works, but that's not how humans really are. Humans are dumb, panicky, emotional animals, and the difference between the most incompetent of them and say cows are not as wide as our politically correct institutions would like to force us to believe.
You would do well, even in an ancap society, to voluntarily donate to charities that pursued socially beneficial objectives so that you reaped the benefits of their actions. This is pretty much the ancap response to tragedy of the commons. Vaccination and libraries are not a bad example of where this makes sense imho. There's nothing strictly contrary to ancap doctrine to point out that choosing not to clean your proverbial home will result in you living in a mess, so you might want to do that occasionally.
It is not enough to point out that simply because states provably fail, markets are perfectly efficient.
Political discussion has, for a long time, been discouraged on HN. Down-voting is one way to encourage people to stop.
Also you'd be pretty hard pressed to say that this question isn't expressly relevant to the original article being discussed, and isn't overtly political in the sense that noone is agitating for votes or any such thing.
"Do buyers and sellers go to this man the way people go to real estate agents for their services? What would Craigslist buyers and sellers think of what he does if they knew about it? Respectfully, I think they would strongly prefer he weren't interfering."
"I doubt very much that sellers would appreciate this liquidity 'service' if it were spelled out for them. They would feel cheated, as would the buyers."
Pretty outrageous, in retrospect.
Two in just the past hour with a quick look at recent comments + one 40 days ago where I noticed it first started happening;
The upvote/downvote system is not intended to be a popularity contest, it's intended to indicate whether the post contributes to the conversation. Even if you find Mickey7's viewpoint abhorrent, you ought to be giving him a +1 to recognize that it's a relevant perspective -- even if that's just so that you can reply and show why this perspective is flawed.
I'd also recommend that if you do use your local library, support it, too. I don't necessarily mean monetarily (which we do, via, uh, late fees), but if someone in power is considering cutting funding, tell them they really shouldn't do that.
Quite honestly, I didn't enjoy spending time at my local library. The atmosphere was depressing. The people running the place seemed unfriendly. They were used to dealing with people coming in and trying to hide in the bathroom during closing in order to stay the night, and things like that.
There was no good place nearby to get food or drinks. Internet access was slower, more inconvenient and more restrictive than most coffee shops. There didn't seem to be a community of people hanging out working on or talking about interesting things.
If libraries created an inviting place to hang out, I would gladly give them another try. I'm more than willing to buy food and drinks at a markup if they're offered. I consider that a good trade: I get sustenance to keep me concentrating for extended periods of time, and they get some compensation for use of the space and resources.
I've seen a few libraries with the just-outside-the-door model, and a Borders with a small Peet's upstairs. Both were well-executed.
> Has it been a while since you been to a library? Cameron Village Regional Library is the only library in Wake County that offers coffee bar service to its patrons! Come visit your public library and browse the stacks with a beverage in hand. Or just come and meet up with a friend and catch up before heading over to the shops and events at Cameron Village.
If they'd served coffee back then I might have spent less of that time sleeping.
Give me a library that has beer on tap any day.
The main branch of the Ottawa Public Library has a nice little coffee/food shop in the middle of its main floor.
I've also visited two public libraries in smaller cities north of Toronto recently, and they also have similar shops. I think it is a great idea, as I will sometimes go to the library to work for the day and don't even have to leave the building for lunch.
* One in a city of 36K people doesn't have refreshments, but is located on a street with lots of restaurants and at least 3 coffee shops within a block or 2.
* One in a city of ~56K people has a coffee kiosk under a canopy/tent alongside the library (this is Southern California, weather's not too big an issue).
* The central library in a city of ~140K has a coffee shop in a sheltered part of a patio/courtyard. I don't think the branch libraries have coffee.
* Los Angeles Central library has 2 restaurants inside the main library building (Panda Express, and a sandwich counter), and a pricier white-tablecloth restaurant in the garden in front of the building. I don't know about the branch libraries.
(edited for formatting)
To sliverstorm's point, the Philly-style pretzel shop across the street from my branch does a nice business with kids after school (and me any time of the week), and I long for a nice coffee shop in the adjacent vacant space.
Below is a talk about transforming part of the MLK library, DC's central library, into a meetup space, FWIW.
If you were starting again in 2012, would you pick a library over a hackerspace or a shared office type deal for any reason other than cost?
I'm not sure if this counts in the same way, but I'm a huge user of inter-library loan; large city systems HAVE the obscure computing and other books I want to read, but there's no way each little branch can.
What are some other unconventional ways to find space to hack on projects?