To many, Facebook is just that $100 billion place where grandmothers and bored teenagers hang out. But for those who have pledged allegiance to the Zuck and work day and night feeding the blue giant, it’s all about the hack. Hack is a term tossed regularly around the Facebook HQ and its smaller offices and datacenters around the world. When a solution isn’t readily available, people hack their way to one. Hacks aren’t always pretty, nor are they revolutionary, but they are the small, incremental steps that fuel the progress of a company like Facebook. The hacker mentality is omnipresent, but one group known as The Analog Research Lab is responsible for spreading the hacker ethos to Facebookers around the world.
The groundwork of The Analog Research Lab took form when Ben Barry, a member of Facebook’s marketing team, decided to build a small screen printing studio in the basement of Facebook’s giant offices. He didn’t ask anyone for permission to do what he did. He simply brought in the equipment, started making posters, and proceded to hang them up around the offices. That’s the hacker way. Eventually his work caught on. Barry was joined by Everett Katigbak and they continued to build and improve upon the studio.
Eventually more people expressed an interest in the project and the Analog Research Lab was born. There are no clear indications that the lab is located within one of the most high-tech companies on the planet. Instead of computers and mice, there are silk-screening materials, a letterpress machine, giant industrial paper cutters, and other trappings of a traditional print shop or design studio. It has become a place to experiment with design principles, and generate mantras for the employees.
Phrases like “Real Artist Ship,” “Done is Better Than Perfect,” and “Think Wrong,” decorate posters and shirts around the Facebook offices.
The Analog Research Lab is now an integral part of the Facebook ecosystem. When Facebook makes the move to their new million square foot facilities in the fall, The Analog Research Lab will receive a massive upgrade in studio space.