The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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BLDGBLOG Book Contest: Snarkmarkitecture

It has been indicated, correctly, that I am in possession of two (2) copies of The BLDGBLOG Book. How this came to pass, only Etaoin Shrdlu knows. But two copies is clearly too many for one man; the double-dose of enthusiasm and imagination threatens to consume me.

Therefore, a contest: SNARKMARKITECTURE.

The premise is simple. Imagine Snarkmarket as a physical space. What is it? Where is it? What does it look like? What does it feel like to walk through or around it?

I’m intentionally leaving this open-ended—maybe it’s a gleaming HQ, maybe it’s a storefront, maybe it’s a feral house of Detroit. Maybe it’s like one of those taco trucks…

Leave your pitch in the comments. Focus on creativity and brevity. It can definitely just be a sentence or two—though, by all means, if you want to Etaoin Shrdlu it up, I’m not going to stop you.

The contest ends Sunday, August 9 Monday, August 10 at midnight EST. (Update: I wanted to accommodate non-weekend-readers.) I’ll choose my favorite comment and send its creator a copy of The BLDGBLOG Book. (Be sure to use a real email address in the comment form so I can contact you if you’re the winner!)

Snarkmarket co-bloggers are not eligible to win but they are required to enter.

Snarkmarket as a physical space. Go for it.


(Seriously, it might be a taco truck.)

Do we have to use words alone or can we also use drawings?

Oh wow! Drawings allowed, of course. <img> tags are allowed in comments.

As of right now, Snarkmarket is a small, glowing rectangle on the upper floor of an east side Milwakee coffee house. At this location, Snarkmarket can exist freely. There is jovial reggae music playing, and the decrepit table that Snarkmarket rests on has words such as “stever” and “jan-o” carved into it in ink-filled trenches. There are 6 individuals smoking in a perimeter around Snarkmarket, thus creating a hazy fog that your fingers must penetrate to access the white, vertical tube of information that Snarkmarket allows you to interact with. This atmosphere seems not to bother Snarkmarket, nor the writhing red worm that guards its portal along the perimeter. There is now a horrible indie rock song playing, and someone with a mucosal, hacking cough won’t stop laughing. You don’t seem to notice these things though, as Snarkmarket’s small perimeter acts in a big powerful, attention-grabbing way. This is Snarkmarket. As of right now.

I can very much imagine a couch upholstered with green paisley and edged in maroon. It is a little odd-looking, but very comfortable. It sits in the back of a coffee shop.

I envision a modern, bi-level loft, perched on a hillside with large windows with a beautiful view of flora in the foreground, and futuristic skyscrapers in the background.

One wall is lined with a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf complete with ladders (a la Mr. Penumbra). There are nice, large tables (the kinds intended for group study in college) at the bottom level.

For the exterior, I imagine the building wrapped in copper (something akin to the DeYoung), which is already developing a nice green patina from the city fog.

I like echan’s general take on it — especially the greening copper exterior, which has a paisley filagree — but I don’t think it’s quite so clean and modern. I mean, it’s partly that, but it’s also a little like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. In fact, the different pieces fit together kind of like Howl’s Moving Castle (complete with steam exhaust).

The most important point that echan is right about is that like Foster’s and Howl’s, Snarkmarket is a dormitory in a residential college for very smart, very talkative weirdos, who all live in well-appointed singles but who gather in the dozen or so public spaces to talk, tease each other, and meet with the people who come in and out, to visit or take classes or crash on their friends’ floor.

There’s a library (where you check out your own books), and a letterpress (to print broadsheets and pamphlets and collaborative novels), and people leave messages for each other on the communal computers. Only some of them specify a recipient. Most are for anyone who discovers them.

In Harry Potter, they are constantly getting books from the “restricted” section (which doesn’t make sense – if it’s restricted then why…).

I think of Snarkmarket, the physical space, as a place with a hidden entry–not like an ultra-hip speakeasy, but like a secret room in the library with a too-small door or a curtain that says, “SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY.”

And then, a room full of people in gloves, pulling wondrous things out of crates, some armed with crowbars, others with teaspoons. A mechanized activity, like a Fritz Lang dance number. But every few minutes one of the people pulls something really wondrous out of a crate and shouts and holds it up high, and everyone else pauses, looks over for a minute, or crowds around or starts yelling too, and the scene turns into a frenzy of delight. A few minutes later, the machines start up again and everything is back to business as usual, like nothing happened.

Fritz Lang and Busby Berkeley actually collaborated on Etaoin Shrdlu: The Musical in 1962. However, the project was deemed too obscure by MGM, and the early footage shelved before the sound could be synchronized.

Snarkmarket is situated in a thicket. Why a thicket? Well, thanks to Wikipedia i discovered that thickets…

” may be formed by species that shed large amounts of highly viable seeds that are able to germinate…”

So, in Snarkmarket, the seeds are ideas. The germination is the process of doing something with the seeds. Ok, it’s a metaphorical thicket, but being situated in a real thicket adds to the cozy appeal.

The structure of the space is organic; it looks like the wood of a log cabin, but if one looks closely, the “wood” it is actually moving. The entire structure can shift shape and grow with the ideas and creativity born within the space.

Inside the dwelling, one will immediately see clusters of sturdy high-back chairs, stools, wood tables, all worn with years of gatherings, but with always with a sheen of freshness that no one can explain. Despite the amount of people gathering, sharing ideas, working on projects, there always seems to be an open seat waiting for someone new.

Snarkmarket is a thicket of ideas, a comfortable place for people to come, share, and create. With each new person, it is always shifting, changing, and growing.

*warm fuzzy feeling*

the end.

Sky says…

Ah Snarkmarket. Yes, I have been there. It is a vast natural community. Lush with trees, fields and gardens. Bound by mountain hills with navigable paths leading to other locales. A wide river runs through its center. It is a seemingly endless array of tree homes, houseboats, communal long houses and modular structures. Common paths with public transport wind pleasantly through the land and are punctuated with public Inns. The temperate climate allows small parks for meeting and contemplation to abound. Larger parks for play are plentiful. Streets are full of carnival and song. It’s many citizens each work only seven hours weekly to provide all with the basics of life–food, shelter and clothing and other items and care. To the greater benefit the citizens are constantly engaged in contemplation, conversation and creation…all the day long!

Some say its origins were in an ancient Roma meeting area and others say the great Roman empire. Many insist it began as the lands of a great knight. A story about human contact with other worlds arose — probably due to the unique capabilities of the citizens…human but linked in a communicative, generative web of visual and textual imagery… a cloud of knowledge and possibility. But, go there yourself. You will see that Snarkmarket clearly exists in ceremonial time. All these layers experienced and present in a massively inclusive perspective of grandeur.

(Early reaction: These are blowing my miiiiiiind!)

the architecture of snarkmarket is right in the name: it’s a market. but not a market in the traditional sense. as a physical place, i see it resembling an old european square, with much more concrete than greenery. it is enclosed by the buildings around it and opens to the sky (perhaps this is happening).

it is a busy place – a marketplace. it’s a market of ideas, however, and one can stop and listen and participate, or simply observe. it is global and innovative and contingent. it is never boring.

I was 16 the first time a Snark Market attended. It was summer and I was working for my uncle in his coffee shop, sort of off, off mainstreet. We were just about to close up when three kind of bedraggled looking people came in. “You’ve been selected.”

The Snark Market abandoned physical infrastructure long ago. Now, it’s a travelling institution that takes up residence in places during the times when they aren’t being used. Car dealerships that have gone under, restaurants after-hours, museums on Mondays, churches on Wednesdays, legislatures that are out of session.

The set up is always the same, three guys with laptops and projectors and a lighting system. They come in, close the blinds and get to work repainting the area with light. You know you’re in a Snark Market space when you enter a familiar room and see details highlighted by a spotlight that you otherwise may have noticed. You get lost in your own home.

Dan says…

I am seeing Snarkmarket in many new lights thanks to this exercise. I want to express my special appreciation for Nina Simon’s description. Snarkmarket is full of wondrous things recently pulled out of crates! And the Snarkmarket door is clearly tiny and mysterious. I don’t see how I can best that.

Still, I’ll try:

Imagine a cock-fighting ring. (Did I get your attention.) Sitting in ratty old leather swivel-chairs at the north side of the ring are Robin, Matt, and Tim—each a bit grizzlier than in real life. Each has a small workbench at their side. Behind them are hundreds of pneumatic tubes. (These they lovingly call the internet.) R, M, and T spend their days watching stuff fly through the tubes. Once in a while, something strikes their fancy and they grab it (with blacksmith’s gloves of course), throw it to the work bench, strap it down (some ideas have some fight in ’em), and make some modifications.

Robin’s modification’s tend to make things shinier, more exciting, and more attractive. Matt’s make them clearer and more pressing. Tim’s make them bigger, stronger, faster. Of course, occasionally they cruelly grab something feeble out of the tubes and make no improvements at all.

Then it’s into the ring. No chickens here. Just all manner of beefed-up ideas pushing one another around, occasionally sparking, sometime emitting sweet smells. All around stands a shifting crowd. They make side bets. They deride the poor pugilists in the ring, or yell encouragements. Every so often someone throws their own combatant into the ring. The overwhelming sound is laughter. For all the battling, it’s a pretty happy place.

A floating city, a flotilla of hand made boats manned by pirate intellectuals, navigating the magnetic currents of the seven seas by the single rusty needle of a lost and found compass: the Snarkmarket.

[reference ]

Jim says…

Better buy 10-12 books!

Jake says…

I love Nina’s idea too. Mine’s lame in comparison: the Googleplex after Google Android Intelligence (Beta) makes so much money that no humans actually have to work. The place is converted into giant lounge/conference center: year-round talks and seminars on every conceivable topic plus free video games and really good sushi. One nook, along the way from one theater to the text repository, sports a teahouse. It’s become a regular salon for certain cultured eccentrics…

Although… I also recall something about a treehouselike so?

I’ve also wondered about this market for snark ever since I subscribed. Beyond the retail space, what’s the global infrastructure of the snark industry? Does it require snark depots, snark barges, snarkheaps? Maybe there’s a Snark Exchange where traders swap snark futures and hedge with snark derivatives? (Reification is fun!)

I’m voting for fake TV’s.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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