In the New York Times, Brian X. Chen explores a strange new kind of establishment that's popping up in the hills of Northern California. Appearing as plain-looking residential dorms littered with laptops and microwaveable foods, the so-called "hacker hostels" cram scores of aspiring technologists looking to make it big in the tech-friendly Bay Area. Deriving from short- and long-term housing matchmaking sites like Airbnb, Chen says that the temporary residencies, which operate both publicly and under-the-table, are being popularized in the region as a form of startup incubator for designers, programmers, and entrepreneurs.

Despite the close quarters and comparatively hefty price tag ($40 per night is apparently considered "cheap" for California's upscale Menlo Park) the young hopefuls who work, eat, and sleep in these improvised tech communes say that they provide more than just a roof over their heads. "The intellectual stimulation you get from being here is unparalleled," said Justin Carden, a 29-year-old software engineer. But there also seems to be some chilling parallels to the period just before the last tech bubble burst, in the late 90s. "We work so hard and we don’t care about where we’re staying," said Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recalling his time shacking up with other graduate students inside their offices at MIT a decade earlier.

Chen has many more interesting details from inside the walls of these communal hacker compounds in his article for the New York Times.