Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, November 14, 2014

Techbros Are Not Geeks

I find it utterly bewildering that the public face of geekdom more and more seems to be becoming venture capitalist skim-scam operations, evopsycho douchebaggery, GamerGate bigots, the anti-intellectual MOOCification of the Academy, and googlediculous soopergenius "thought-leaders" peddling futurological flim-flam. It's bad enough that most "thought leaders" aren't leading anything, but it's pretty plain they aren't even thinking.

I mean, is the unwatchably stale Cheez Whiz of "The Big Bang Theory" really supposed to have its finger on the pulse of some vital cultural phenomenon? Arts and crafts fairs rebranded as Maker Faires, learning annex courses and funding pitches rebranded as TEDtalkfotainments, superfluous duplications of existing goods and services given websites and then branded as a New Economy Tech Explosion, and always everywhere the corporate logos all watching over with loving grace... didn't we already do this dreary disaster in the irrationally exuberant dot.bomb 90s?

Since when has geekdom been so crass, so dumb, so monotonal? Where did all the camp, all the weirdos, all the elven/vulcan-eared librarians, all the dirty fucking hippies go?

I hate to be the one to break it to anybody, but the Federation is a multicultural socialist democracy -- Star Fleet is where they send the stale pale males who can't quite get with the laid back abundance program of their better adjusted fellow citizens.

You know, when I was in High School the only people I could talk about Star Trek and Dune with were theater geeks, and Model UN nerds, and downlow feminists on the pom pom squad in my honors English classes who played dumb for boyfriends they liked to make fun of when they weren't making out with them. Later, my geeks were in Queer Nation, loved John Waters as much as Star Wars, and pored over dusty archives for years dissertating on medieval French poets.

Speaking only for myself, of course, but these days when I am really geeking out to my heart's content it probably means I am reading Nnedi Okorafor, listening to Janelle Monae, or watching a roundtable of social scientists and cultural critics and activists on Melissa Harris-Perry's show. Geekery has never looked or felt or wanted to me to be anything remotely like the white-racist patriarchal corporate-militarist yuppie scumbaggery that is now getting marketed as "geekery."

Of course, every cultural formation is diverse in ways that exceed any parochial vantage on it and is stratified by the legacies and agonies of historical placement. While they often, all too often, exhibited such frailties, for me, geeks have never been about greed or exclusion or reactionary politics or consumer conformity. For me, geeks have been about resisting the forces and forms with which they seem increasingly to be identified in public discourse. The New Geekdom is the old bleak-dumb.

I say, Kol-Ut-Shan! and die techbro scum! (A paradox, you say? Mine is a geekery that thrives on paradoxes.)


jimf said...

> Since when has geekdom been so crass, so dumb, so monotonal?

Since it got monetized?

Dale Carrico said...