Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Music and More for a Geek Nation

The album Flood by They Might Be Giants has long been one of my favourites. I'm happy to say that now, with Here Comes Science, my kids are fast becoming fans of TMBG as well. I've got Meet the Elements stuck in my head, and my daughter loves I am a Paleontologist. Like TMBGs "friend Danny," she thinks she is one, and might very well be one day.

More than just music, and a really fun DVD, this album underscores one of the best things going on these days: the blossoming of Geek Culture. On the one hand, this movement makes being a geek a lot more fun, but I suspect there may be more to it than that.

My mother doesn't really get it. But then, she's not a geek. My mother was mortified when my daughter proudly proclaimed, "I'm a geek!" She gave me that look, "Did you teach her to say that? That's a terrible thing to teach her! You shouldn't tell your kids that they're geeks." She simply doesn't understand what it means to live in the post Revenge of the Nerds world.

It's more than living in a world were people hang on the word of guys like Steve Jobs, or where Bill Gates is rich and powerful enough to be both revered and hated. It's also a world where geeks make up a big enough a socioeconomic group to justify things like Giant Microbe Plushies, and get a Holywood movie made with grass roots support.

In and of themselves, these things are no more important than the Bohemian Revolution of more than a century ago. It will certainly produce some lasting art and a fat stripe of material culture, mostly plastic and battery powered. But the question remains, will Geek Culture make a lasting impression on human culture as a whole?

If Geek Culture teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that we certainly can have an impact, if we play our cards right. The Geek love of role play is a perfect example. We've built whole cultures out of fandom for everything from Science Fiction to the Middle Ages. Simple customs sprout like weeds in these groups. Geeks make fertile ground for cultural change.

Now some will point to things like the internet, and insist that geeks are already changing the world. To some degree that's true, but let's face it, the changes fomented by the internet have more to do with economy at present than they do with any decided intent to change the way people live. That being said, Geek Culture is still relatively young. It's not too late to wonder, what would a world shaped by Geeks look like?

It's a question worth asking. It's a question we may yet answer with action, rather than just the fleeting words of the electronic ether. And that's what makes this such a great time to be a Geek. Link