It was approaching 10 pm on a Wednesday, but dozens of people were crowded around several long wooden tables in the center of a cluttered workshop in Chelsea. Some stared intently at lines of code, others hunched over a soldering iron or sewing machine.
One evening a month, the Fixers Collective convenes at the Hack Manhattan workshop to repair busted phones, computers and other gadgets brought to them by the stumped public. These Fixers are not paid professionals; they do this for fun.
But the collective works in fraught territory. Professional repair work has been on the wane, thanks to increasingly affordable electronics, aggressive copyright policies, proprietary designs and business models built on encouraging frequent upgrades. The members of the group think a lot about how copyright legislation, lack of consumer education and powerful marketing campaigns work to discourage the practice of repair. They’re not alone; with an uproar about Apple’s “Error 53” breaking iPhones that have had their Touch ID fixed by a third party, and the announcement of a repair-industry advocacy group, it seems others are finally taking note.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.