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Dreaming of Digital Glory At Hacker Hostels 71

An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has a story about a small chain of managed residences that has sprung up in the Bay Area to provide a cheap place where programmers, designers, and scientists can live and work. These 'hacker hostels' are a place for aspiring entrepreneurs to gather, share, and refine ideas. 'Hackers ... have long crammed into odd or tiny spaces and worked together to solve problems. In the 1960s, researchers at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory slept in the attic and, while waiting for their turn on the shared mainframe computer, sweated in the basement sauna. When told about the hacker hostels, Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies entrepreneurship, said they reminded him of his days in the last decade studying at M.I.T., where graduate students would have bunk beds inside their small offices.'"
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Dreaming of Digital Glory At Hacker Hostels

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  • by Serious Sandwich ( 2678177 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:17AM (#40563527)
    .. at state prison!
    • by genjix ( 959457 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:43AM (#40563973)

      We have done this for years here in Europe. Typically they are called hacklabs. Often they may be squatted houses converted into social centres, or a funded space (like a hackerspace) with people living on site.

      Here's a photo of one from 2004: []

      A large factory with ~20 hackers living and working on projects. People would come and go as they please, and we held several hackathons there like the 2007 Crystal Space hackfest: []

      This has been going on for decades throughout major cities in Europe such as London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Spain, Italy, Austria and Prague.

      • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

        The picture in your first link has a text saying "computers to make me want to leave my wife." Well, not for me. The PCs look like 1995. There might be only one flat screen visible under the table but I am not even sure this is it.

        It reminds me a lab we had in 2003 where the company would only supply us with old PC desktops from 1995.

        Throw in a few cray computers, a few Sun servers and actual PC servers with double power supply etc., more flat screens and I might want to leave my wife.

        Still, I remember sim

        • If your servers need double power supplies, you're not building proper failover into your software.

          • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

            Who talked about needing dual power supplies ? Not me...

            Sometimes you may leave your your wife for things that you don't really need !

      • by paskie ( 539112 )

        What place where hackers live together do you have in mind regarding Prague? I'm living here and I'm not aware of any.

  • by nsanders ( 208050 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:20AM (#40563587) Homepage


    "But many tenants are here not so much for the cheap rent — $40 a night — as for the camaraderie and idea-swapping."

    $40/night * 30 days (month~) == $1200/month

    Well, I guess it is San Francisco.. so maybe that's cheap for them.

    • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

      Yeah, moving to the west coast is certainly an eye opener in this regard. My last apartment in the South was $525/month for 1200 square feet, a garden plot/yard, and a parking spot. I get a 350 square foot shit hole on the edge of Koreatown for about $800/month here in los angeles, and rent in SFO scares the hell out of me...

    • $1200 for just some house is a lot. But add the infrastructure, possibly some furniture, and especially all the extra brains (neighbors, other nerds) and the price might be totally worth it.

      But "cheap" is not the word I would use to describe it.

    • "But many tenants are here not so much for the cheap rent â" $40 a night â" as for the camaraderie and idea-swapping."

      Lots of hackers homes in close proximity? Cue federal wiretaps and police thuggery to attack the terrorists and downloaders in 5...4...3... :(

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      For pay-by-the-day it's not a bad price at all. You can do better than $1200/mo for a room, but usually that requires you to sign a lease.

    • When this stuff was done in the past as described, it was done primarily because graduate students were poor. Going home to a dump is not an improvement over sleeping at the lab. Crowded conditions are not desirable but they occur when there is not an alternative. When scientists and engineers get jobs with decent pay then they stop living like lab rats.

  • by Georules ( 655379 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:21AM (#40563597)

    Hackers — the Mark Zuckerberg variety, not the identity thieves — have long crammed into odd or tiny spaces and worked together to solve problems.

    Wait, Mark Zuck is not an identity thief?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He didn't steal it, you licensed it to him in the ten pages of legalese.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Page 4: """You grant Facebook an unlimited, nonexclusive license to use, distribute, modify, and distribute modified versions, of your personality."""

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Hackers â" the Mark Zuckerberg variety, not the identity thieves â" have long crammed into odd or tiny spaces and worked together to solve problems.

      Wait, Mark Zuck is not an identity thief?

      Is it stealing if someone just gives it to you?

      After all, the information on Facebook is provided voluntarily by its users. It wasn't obtained through hacking their computers or purchasing their information from the various databaes. It was provided to Facebook free of charge by the user.

      It's really hard to stea

  • good idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:28AM (#40563753)

    Maybe the hackers crammed into this hostel can work on some sort of global information sharing system that would allow them to collaborate without being in the same physical location.

  • of the degeneration of the United States into a teeming, fetid copy of China or India. Question globalism. Question diversity.
  • Ummm, these rooms smell like rainbows and Mila Kunis hugs!

    • by Pope ( 17780 )

      Ummm, these rooms smell like rainbows and Mila Kunis hugs!

      I'll be right there!

  • Betcha that plays smells like an overheated CRT at a Linux convention.

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @11:11AM (#40564333)

    "But inside, in a third-floor apartment, there are enough Ikea bunk beds to sleep 10 people, crammed into two bedrooms." And they mention that the house "captain" gets his/her own room, meaning you have 11 people in a single apartment.

    This violates so many different housing codes, it's not even funny. Cramming that many people into such a small space is downright dangerous. Fire, sanitation, etc., ... all problems. These are not niggling little "lets find something to fine you for" issues... this is a serious safety problem.

    "Katy Levinson, who runs another hacker house, declined to give its exact location because she had heard about several houses being shut down after running into trouble with landlords."

    She doesn't even OWN the house? That tells me two things:
    1) She's badly violating the terms of any lease agreement, which certainly would not allow subletting of this magnitude.
    2) She's utterly ignoring any landlord-tenant laws herself.

  • . . . sounds like a perfect description of cubicles to me. Smart parents might want to prepare their children early for cubicle life, to give them a head start before the neighbors' children:

    How about cubicle cribs for babies, and cubicle summer camps? They'll be better prepared for life in their cubicle future!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear god, as a female I would see this as a nightmare. I already have to set and constantly re-establish boundaries with the male-dominated work force that I'm in (physics, specifically). I would not want to sleep anywhere near them. I would not want to be stuck cleaning up after them all because my preferred standards of cleanliness are much higher than theirs.

    This is part of why women don't join these fields in parity with men. We can't afford to completely dissolve boundaries like this, because some cre

    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      Huh, I don't see why anyone would think you were crazy for not wanting to share a room, particularly with someone of the opposite sex. I certainly see the attraction of a setup like this, but I'd rather pay more for a private room. I think the social setting would be very cool, but on a practical level, I don't think it would work for me. I _have_ stayed in hostels like this for mountaineering courses up in the Sierras, and it worked okay except for the snoring, but I think I slept with my wallet in m

    • by Pope ( 17780 )

      I am happy, happy to socialize with Indian scientists and French scientists and Chinese scientists and American scientists and all the rest. I am not happy to give these same scientists access to my wallet while I sleep, or to my bed, or to my luggage (meager though it may be). They have no serious motivation to be a good room mate because they will likely never see me again. I refused to share my room with some total stranger and the guys in charge thought I was a complete nutter for it.

      So you automatically assume that your fellow scientists want to steal your money and rummage through your luggage? Wow, paranoid and racist much?

    • Dear god, as a female I would see this as a nightmare.

      And as a female, I think it could be kinda cool provided I could be in an all girl house (or at least an all girl room), but that has more to do with my religious standards then any disgust at living with boys. I've lived with enough girls that I've had to clean up after that I don't think it's fair to play the boys are slobs card. But then again, I'm in CS and like tech and all that, and only find the start-up culture a little off putting 'cause so many of the people in it aren't all that technical.

      I do th

  • These are called WoW Gold Farms.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @02:44PM (#40567409) Homepage

    These are not so different from crowded apartments that cater to immigrants.


    The US is in the process of reducing living standards to the level of Shenzen. Already the 40 hour week is a memory. Then there's the "internship" work-for-free racket. Now, overcrowded dorms. Public housing projects provided more living space per person than that. Even SRO hotels rent you an individual room.

    This is pathetic.

  • Holy shit, man! You can get a nice apartment by yourself in Northern Virginia and have just as much local resources for starting a tech company as California. The internet is here, not there...

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.