The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
"The geek shall inherit the Earth." Such is the ending of New York Times' columnist David Brooks fascinating piece titled "The Alpha Geeks" (May 23, 2008). In it, Brooks offers a back-of-the-napkin history on the rise of geeks and the current power of geek culture. Given its brevity, the article is amazingly insightful and comprehensive, as most of his pieces are. Though Brooks is a vowed conservative, I find that he has a way of transcending partisanship and thus nailing insights unlike few other columnists on either side of the aisle.
Anyway, to the column itself, Brooks explains how nerd culture was supplanted by geek culture over time - originally, a nerd was a geek with better grades, he says. However, later geekdom acquired its own cool counterculture as cultural elements like Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, The Talking Heads and Vampire Weekend found followings among the geek-minded. Eventually, as it became possible to earn tons of money in IT, Brooks observes that "A geek possessed a certain passion for specialized knowledge, but also a high degree of cultural awareness and poise that a nerd lacked."
Brooks goes on to describe more about the rise of geek culture, explaining how "new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks [can] display their cultural capital", how geeks have "created a new definition of what it means to be cool", how there is a new "cool geek fashion style" and how "news that being a geek is cool has apparently not permeated either junior high schools or the Republican Party." These are just snippets, so I suggest you go and read the details for yourself. Fascinating stuff.
Who knew we were so damn cool?
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
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