A NY Times cover story today was about hacker hostels in the Bay Area, where smart twenty-something-year-old geeks live in close quarters with dirty laundry, poor diets, brilliant ideas, and incomparable community.
Hackers — the Mark Zuckerberg variety, not the identity thieves — 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.
“We work so hard and we don’t care about where we’re staying,” he said. “That’s how you learn. People always complain that academic study of computer science doesn’t do a lot for you as a programmer. What does are these sorts of environments.”
FJP: Sounds grimy and genius and nerdy and wonderful. We approve. Also, we’ll be posting a video shortly, in which Gabriella Coleman talks about hacker culture a bit. And it’ll be interesting.
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