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Trailblazers What Matters to Me: Michelle Poon Of Hackerspace Dim Sum Labs

What Matters to Me: Michelle Poon Of Hackerspace Dim Sum Labs

What Matters to Me: Michelle Poon Of Hackerspace Dim Sum Labs
By Melissa Twigg
February 25, 2019
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters.

Hacking, as defined by Michelle Poon, is the intellectual challenge to overcome, circumvent, deconstruct or “hack” the limitations or purposes of virtually anything. Confused? It basically means using your brain to mess around creatively online.

Michelle’s synapses are clearly made for this task. A co-owner of the non-profit hackerspace Dim Sum Labs, she also established Dim Sum Labs Press and last year published her first book, The Field Guide to Hacking. She’s an academic lecturer and creative technologist, and the recipient of a Design Trust Feature Grant to explore how organisations can develop work environments where creativity flourishes. Here, Michelle introduces her work in her own words.

Dim Sum Labs is part of the global hackerspace community. I see our role as educating people on how to navigate the technological landscape in an accessible, interesting, productive and secure way. We’ve created a secure physical space that allows people to practise hacking and to explore their technological creativities.

People need to change their perception of hacking. For me it is actually an intellectual endeavour, but the term hacking incorrectly implies something illegal. This is what The Field Guide to Hacking attempts to correct.

Being a woman in tech can be challenging. However, my difficult encounters could always be attributed to a specific context rather than the industry as a whole. In other words, I’ve been fortunate that any discrimination I’ve experienced has been at the individual level (thereby easily resolved), rather than a toxic attitude throughout a company I’ve worked at.

There is a hyper-awareness of equality for women in tech now. With increasingly more female representation in various roles and tiers, there are also more platforms that encourage and support diversity, such as AnitaB.org or IBM’s Tech Re-entry Program. Although if we really want to be better at inclusion, adopting gender blindness may be more successful, as it’s important to allow the unique aspects of an individual to come before assumptions related to gender.

Every new project quickly becomes my biggest struggle. But I enjoy putting all my focus into something new. It means the challenges are constantly changing and that my learning opportunities come from a variety of different directions. If we allow ourselves to be comfortable with discomfort, that’s how we grow.

  • Photography Moses Ng

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Trailblazers What Matters To Me Michelle Poon Hackerspace Dim Sum Labs Hong Kong

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