Tag Archives: geek culture

Geek Assistance Needed

Oh, the things I’ll do in the name of professional development. I have had the opportunity to learn pop songs on the uke, figure out how to play X Box (and subsequently get trounced upon by a bunch of grade school kids in a Just Dance 4 dance off), and brush up on my trivia for a game of Stump the Librarian at Market Square Reading Room, all in the name of doing my job. Whatever it takes to get folks excited about the library, I’ll do it.

String meme

The latest professional challenge facing me, however, may involve a complete change of identity. You see, the Library has embraced geek culture in a big way — see The Den, The Buzz, Out of the Gutter, Hands On Workshops, and a goodly chunk of our Teen programming, to name a few. The library and geeks are natural allies — we love technology, learning, making lists, collecting things, and pop culture. And in my role as an outreach librarian, I have an obligation to go out and bring the library’s mission of lifelong learning and literacy to geeks wherever they may work, play, and LARP.

The problem is, despite my love for the obscure and a deep-seated and strong opinion in the Star Wars v. Star Trek debate, I am not yet a geek.

That’s not to say that I am a prep or a jock or any other non-nerd John Hughes archetype. I simply have never been able to stick to anything long enough to get really knowledgeable about it, which for me is the hallmark of geekiness. Sure, I’ve read some sci fi, played a few video games, read a decent number of comics, watched some movies, and made some stuff, but my knowledge in these areas is too broad for me to even be accurately called a generalist. I’m a dabbler at best.

There’s a bit of a sense of urgency here, because I would love to represent the Library at the Pittsburgh Comicon 2013 on September 27, 28, and 29. When I was working the table at the Comic Art Festival, I got called out as a non-geek because I wasn’t able to identify a web comic character. Never again! Now’s the time to cultivate my inner geek.

That’s where you come in, dear Eleventh Stack readers. Be my Virgil, er, Yoda, and guide me to be a +10 level geek!

Professional development literature. It's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it.

Professional development literature. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.

To set the mood for my quest, I’ve started with a book that was recommended to me by both my Dickens-loving brother and a fantasy-loving librarian friend, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. I have fallen in love with this book, and I’ve got several years’ worth of reading, viewing, and playing suggestions to work through based on the story. If you haven’t heard of this book, check it out immediately. It’s a dystopian adventure story set in a riot-filled, poverty-stricken, environmentally-wrecked near future in which the vast majority of inhabitants of Earth escape the ugly reality by plugging in to a massive virtual reality video game universe called the OASIS. The genius inventor of this virtual world left an “easter egg,”(which I learned is a hidden challenge within a video game that has no bearing on the primary game-play) a series of challenges that will yield to the winner a vast sum of money and a controlling stake in the game’s universe. This book pits our hard-luck teenage protagonist against a massive corporation with dubious intentions and I LOVE IT.

Other recent forays – Joss Whedon’s X-Men series, Twin Peaks, Makey Makey — have been equally promising. But since time is scarce, I need some help! For starters:

  • Do you have to start a comic series from the beginning, even if it goes back 50 or 60 years? Can you just jump in?
  • Manga — I’ve read some Osamu Tezuka, what’s next?
  • What’s an entry point for a fantasy-curious reader?
  • What Superman series will cure me of my tendency to find him boring?
  • If you only have time for one science fiction TV series, should it be Firefly or Battlestar?
  • I’m not a teenager, do I have enough time left in my life to consume and understand Dr. Who or should I move on?
  • I like Red Fang and Sleep, but I fear that these groups are false metal. Please discuss.
  • What’s this Homestuck all about?
  • Do you have a favorite Cthulhu story not written by Lovecraft?

What else do I need to know before Comicon?

-Dan aka Morath, my new Klingon name

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Le Geek, C’est Chic?

Trends are funny things.  When I started high school, for example,  wearing flannel shirts was a sign that you were a) a farmer’s kid, or b) poor enough to be eligible for free lunch.  By the time I graduated, however, grunge music and its attendant fashion codes had become nationwide phenomena; consequently, if you weren’t swathed in flannel on a regular basis, there was simply no help for you, as you were the epitome of “uncool.”

Flash-forward twenty years and another strange switch-up in trends appears to be afoot:  geek chic.  I’m not sure if society has become more tolerant of differences, or if folks just enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory, but these days it really is hip to be squareGamers, computer buffs, and SCA members rejoice:  your day has finally come.

I confess, I’m a little ambivalent about that.  I know I like what I like because I like it, not because it earns me any kind of “points” or “street cred.”  However, I’m also leery of the notion that things are only worth liking if a small, select group of people enjoys them.  In that spirit, therefore, here are a few geek culture samples from the library’s catalog that everyone is welcome to try on for size.

GeekDadGeek Dad, Ken Denmead.  A popular Wired.com blogger shares a staggering array of fun projects geeky dads can share with their kids.  This former tomboy finds the “boys only” vibe a little uncomfortable, but the projects here — which range from comic strips to space ships to night kites — are so diverse and interesting, it would definitely be worth sharing them with children and adults of all ages and inclinations.

Theater Geek, Mickey Rapkin.  CAPA kids, stage parents and Glee / Fame fans might enjoy this behind-the-scenes peek at one of America’s most prominent theater camps.  Focused, reverent, and extremely serious about the gravitas of “making it” at Stagedoor, Rapkin’s memoir is sure to appeal to those who eat, sleep and breathe drama.

Suck It, Wonder Woman!, Olivia Munn.  The darling of both G4TV and WonderWomanThe Daily Show, Munn offers up geeky-comedic chops in this collection of essays.  From safe sex to robot invasions, nothing escapes Munn’s off-the-cuff observations, and her stories of what it’s like to not quite fit in will resonate with many a person who has occupied that difficult space.  Mostly for current fans, but with potential to attract new ones, Suck It occasionally bites, but doesn’t, er, suck.

Dungeons_and_Dreamers

Dungeons and Dreamers, Brad King and John Borland.  Meet the men and women of computer gaming in this inclusive biography of a digital era.  You’ll meet — or reconnect with — notable names in gaming history like Richard Carriott,  John Carmack, and Richard Bartle, and learn how Vangie Beal created the first organized women’s gaming network.  Designed to appeal to both those who remember their first MUD as well as those who have no idea what the heck a LAN is, this book is a neat snapshot of a phenomenon that continues to evolve and fascinate a significant chunk of every generation.

I put it to you, constant reader:  are you now, or have you ever been, a geek?  A nerd, maybe?  Do you have fandoms, and if so, what are they?

–Leigh Anne
who fails her sanity rolls on a regular basis, but always knows where her towel is.

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