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Revenge of the Geeks
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Revenge of the Geeks

06/20/09 | by Comp615 [mail] | Categories: Music, The World

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For years, sociologists and other learned scholars have tried to deduce through quantitative reasoning the difference between the geek and the nerd. Unfortunately, I cannot present any groundbreaking evidence in this field as both sides have their own unique traits and personalities. However, the thing which I believe separates a geek from a nerd is passion and excitement. Whereas nerds are driven solely by a desire to know everything about a given area, geeks are driven by a deeper passion…perhaps love...for their interests. And it is the latter group, the geekimus maximus that we examine in-depth today. We will gain a first-hand understanding of their culture, and their contributions to human society...

Our examination begins with one of the most universal pleasures on the planet. No…not that. Music, of course. Several bands have infused their knowledge of geek culture into modern music. Perhaps one of the most celebrated bands, Weezer, seems to be themselves quite nerdy. One of their songs, titled “In the Garage” alludes to the original geek tribal gathering:

I've got a Dungeon Master's Guide
I've got a 12-sided die
I've got Kitty Pryde
And Nightcrawler too
Waiting there for me
Yes I do, I do...

In the garage
I feel safe
No one cares about my ways
In the garage
Where I belong
No one hears me sing this song

This early glimpse into geek culture is a fairly accurate description of early D & D quests. Weezer also has a great music video covering many current issues in geek culture. Called Pork and Beans, enjoy:
Pork and Beans - Weezer

The ending is a truly grandeur celebration of geek/internet culture. However another band no one has ever heard of gives us a broader picture of day-to-day geek activities. The lyrics are poetic indeed. Without further adieu, "Hail to the Geek":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI7YMK9OPWo
(Lyrics are on the more info tab of the video)

It's truly impressive to capture such a wide variety of geek culture in one song, this is actually the primary textbook in the area of geek culture. Now do you remember American Hi-Fi? They sang that song called Flavor of the Week. Well turns out they had another good song which highlights the geek love ritual, aptly titled “The Geeks get the Girls”. The chorus goes something like:

Tonight tonight, he's gonna get it right
Even losers can get lucky sometimes
All the freaks go on a winning streak
In a perfect world, all the geeks get the girls

Let’s examine this song deeper. Notice the “girl” is never described in detail. I allege that she herself might be of the geek variety. This is in support of the geek^2 theory a well educated Yalie once told me about. The geek^2 theory states that geeks are often so shocked the first time someone of the opposite gender talk to them (and has the same interests as them) that a relationship is immediately formed. Look at the obscure departments at your college. Perhaps Egyptology. If the department chairs of say, hieroglyphics and Egyptology are married, then you’ve found the geek^2 theory at work.

In reality though, this is nothing more than simple natural selection. In order to propagate the geek genes of a particular area, the geek will seek someone with similar genes to ensure that the gene is passed on to offspring, thus ensuring an even geekier future for the next generation.

There is also a certain poetry to the geek culture. I have been conducting an Ethnographic study of geek culture by taking computer science at Yale. I recently observed the following course evaluation posted by a friend on the site:

[Profs Name] drops dry lectures like cripts drop bloods
like levittstown architecture class time’s a dud
and the problem sets they eat up your time
often spend more hours than pennys in a dime
but if you wanna learn to program, start chillin with the real comp sci crew
if you wanna ssh tunnel crazy b****s and keep it poppin late night in the zoo
then you gotta take this class and learn how to write c
get respect from your peeps like Kernighan and Ritchie
And if you don’t,
I’ll hit you in compile time
Drop a segfault on you’re a** before you spit a single line

For reference, "Kernighan and Ritchie" wrote the textbook, and the zoo is our computer lab where the computers are named after animals. Clearly there is a certain unexplained poetry to even the simplest things in geek culture.

Geeks contributions to modern culture go far beyond poetry, they have also contributed a number of important discoveries to our modern culture. Think of the best movie you have seen recently. Star Trek! That’s correct! Well as you are undoubtedly aware. This arises out of geek culture. The sub-group, Trekkies, are one of the oldest remaining geek races. It is upon their ancient lore that this wonderful movie was based. So without geeks, our summer movie experience would be stuck with unfortunate fantasy movies such as Land of the Lost (Oh cmon, timetravel? Where’d you get that idea?).

Clearly we find geeks amusing for a variety of reason, not just their movies. A little known fact, however, is that geeks also serve a functional purpose in our culture. Consider that thing you are using right now. Your computer (or Iphone) is a perfect example of geeks contributions. Most of the free software you use is contributed by an army of geeks with the sole intent of taking over the universe. I personally do not see how creating “The Bunny Game” leads to taking over the universe, but this seems to be the generally accepted purpose of most geek endeavors. All those cool IPhone apps (And the fact that Apple ever allowed you to have apps) stem from geeks hard work hacking the phone and pushing the boundaries of technology.

But with the amount of time they spend on hacking and coding and playing D & D, do they ever have fun? One of the leaders of the geek field seems to shout Yes to empty IRC channels. His name is Basshunter, and this sportsman…erm…it would seem that’s Basshunter as in Treblehunter’s sidekick. Anyways, he writes music like those other people I talked about. But this is truly music from within the culture. First hand sourcing.
I was recently strolling the streets of New Haven (the courtyards of Yale actually) when I heard some electronic music emanating from a window overhead. I decided to follow the sweet audio tracks up the stairs to a still occupied suite. As I opened the door and tactfully dodged a flying beer can, I found that this music was driving a rave party. My trained ears quickly recognized the track as “Boten Anna”, a Sweedish song by Basshunter. I quickly found the host and introduced myself as an expert on geek culture. I quickly inquired if he was aware that the song was actually about Mr. Basshunters love affair with an IRC Bot (Bot is short for Robot). He asked me what I was talking about and went away. However, when the next song, “Dota” came on. I hastily located him again and told him the story of this song. “Did you know that this one is about him playing Warcraft in his attic. Then he talks about how he’s creep rushing and toying with his opponents like n00bs?” He quickly escorted me out of the suite calling me a “Buzzkill”.

Basshunter’s work is some of my favorite electronic/dance music. In fact, he recently sold-out and relyric-ed all his songs into English and released them. So if you’ve ever heard “All I ever wanted, was to see you smiling”…you should think “We’re sitting here on vent(rillo), playing a little DOTA”. A female friend recently told me that I ruined the song for her. However the preservation of his message is more important than simple puerile pleasures. Don’t believe me that this song is about video games? Check out the music video:

That’s right. That was a thousand person lan party in the video, he was performing for it, AND there were even girls!!! Nice, I'm moving to Sweden. Well I’d love to talk more about geek culture, unfortunately I’m late for my DOTA game. Later!

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A collection of musings from my time at Yale along with some thoughts about my "Freshman year of life" in San Francisco.

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