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The Media Media Television

Have Geeks Gone Mainstream? 458

Posted by Cliff
from the just-call-me-'Katz' dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "Recently, I've been seeing more and more news stories about how 'geek' has gone mainstream. There have been a slew of articles with titles like Geek Pride and Geek Chic, which discuss how movies like 'The 40-Year Old Virgin' and 'Napoleon Dynamite', as well as television shows like 'Beauty and the Geek' have made it cool to be a geek. Two pinup calendars of geeks have been released this year, taking advantage of the new mainstream interest in all things geeky. These include the Geek Gorgeous Calendar, which features women who work in the hi-tech industry, and the Girls of Geekdom Calendar, which includes geeks like 'Art Geek' and 'Movie Geek'. So if being a geek has really become cool, why has interest in CS as a major dropped among incoming freshmen and women are still a minority in computer and engineering fields? Is it cooler to pretend to be a geek (wear 'Save Pedro' shirts, etc.) than to really be one?"
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Have Geeks Gone Mainstream?

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  • by ArghBlarg (79067) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:42PM (#14068604) Homepage
    Yes. End of thread.
  • by Darby (84953) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:43PM (#14068605)
    Yeah, it's nice. I mention I can compile a kernel in any bar, and models, strippers and hookers are begging me to do coke off their tits.
    Truly amazing.

    • Geek interests (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:20PM (#14068798) Journal
      Well, the thing is... most geeks I know really wouldn't be interested in doing coke off of hookers' tits. Rather, they'd probably be looking for girls that like to talk (about non lame things), play games, or various other not-necessarily-that-geeky but geek-interesting activities.

      Others would probably just be happy to have a woman look at them. You can pull the slashdot stereotype but there really are many varieties of geek.
  • by jmcmunn (307798) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:44PM (#14068614)

    Wearing a "Save Pedro" shirt isn't cool anymore. My youngest brother is in highschool, and probably three quarters of his friends have (and regularly wear) these shirts. When a "fashion" has made it to high school it's no longer cool.
  • perhaps... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rs_Conqueror (838344)
    I blame napoleon dynamite, he gives us all a bad name...
    • Re:perhaps... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eosp (885380)
      He's a nerd. We're geeks. Or /.ers. There's a difference. See Wikipedia.
    • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:19PM (#14068795)
      "Napoleon Dynamite" was a terrible movie. Or, at least, it had a terrible image of geekdom.

      The kid had various geek stereotypes, sure. Lack of coordination, unshapely body, poor taste in dress, and so on.

      But, the kid was not intelligent. That was made obvious. He was in fact less intelligent than most his age. And further, he lived a life full of pretension...he did not have the strong and direct mannerisms from which geeks draw their antisocial stereotypes. Instead he makes up shallow and obviously stupid stories about his exploits, utterly oblivious to how transparent they are.

      How does he save himself at the end? By becoming brilliant? NO! By learning to DANCE. TO DANCE!!! What does that have to do with geekdome? Sure there is nothing wrong with it, but dancing is what the NON-GEEKS do to be cool.

      If you want to see a REAL geek movie, go watch Real Genius. And maybe read some Larry Niven.

      Geekery is defined by sublime levels of self-mastery. Geeks reject social standards which hold no value for them, and cultivate their minds to no end. The power of the human mind is what separates us from lower animals, and the geekly expression of this power places us at the cutting edge of human evolution. This is where the value of geekdom lies.

      I would further suggest that geeks are the true authors of the world as we know it. Who invented shampoo? Who designed the intricate networks of pipes that carry our waste neatly away? Who created fine fabrics and devised methods of weaving them into finer clothing? Who created sports cars? Air conditioning? Athletic shoes? Everything, absolutely EVERYTHING that non-geeks love about themselves and their world was created by geeks.

      Go geek or go away.

      Ok, I am done.

       
      • Screw Real Genius (Score:3, Informative)

        by caveat (26803)
        Not that it's a bad geek movie, us chem majors (all 6 of us) used to have weekly watchings of it in college...but Pi is definitely the greatest geek movie I've ever seen. Period.
    • Re:perhaps... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CsiDano (807071)
      I honestly didn't understand, I hated that movie, that guy wasn't a geek, he was a retard. But I guess whatever you like right? I always see this restaurant commercial on tv where the idiot does his impression of napoleon asking for a sub. Oh well. On to good news, Superman movie!!! Comming out on June 29th 2006. Sweet.
  • by sj88 (930814) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:45PM (#14068618)
    Part of the definition is that it is not mainstream.
  • Napoleon Dynamite? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:46PM (#14068625)
    I might not understand, but I thought it portrayed geeks in the worst light humanly possible, and that is where it got its humor from. How would that make it cool to be a geek?
    • by mordors9 (665662) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:48PM (#14068637)
      That's the problem Geeks have. They watch these movies and think they are now in style. Sad really. We nerds pity the geeks.
    • Because, as geeks we too laugh at these exagerated characters. So it feels like they are laughing with us, when in reality they see us in the same light, and are laughing at us. We think we are cool because of the added attention towards geeks, but nonetheless are still the butt of the joke.
    • I can't say that Napoleon Dynamite was a "geek". Dork, perhaps, but not geek.

      I think that you can be a geek, but still not be a dork, or in the same vein, a loser. I think that's what it is these days-- geeks are getting shown to not be losers, but instead are being recognized for their interest in some subject, and lauded for that intelligence.

    • Napolean Dynamite was a particular nerd from a particular time. The timeframe was the early nineties, and the setting was smalltown america, a different kid who wasnt trying to fit in. He wasn't a typical "geek" who is here on /.

      -everphilski-
  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:46PM (#14068628)
    Interest in being a CS major has dropped because there is a well known stereotype about IT workers being the most overworked and underappreciated and underpaid people in any business. The fact that this is often the truth does not help matters.
    • by cbreaker (561297)
      Ohh, I don't know. If you're a good IT engineer that's well versed in lots of technologies and an expert in a couple, you'll pull a real good salary - at least in the US.

      I won't post my salary but it's really quite good, in the top 7% of the income in the state. I don't expect my salary to ever decrease; the problem of course can be finding jobs. It's either no job, or a really good paying job. There's not much in between - nobody would hire me for a Help Desk position becuase I'd leave as soon as I g
    • by daevux (626542)
      Unfortunately, people also don't realize CS != IT. Software Engineering is actually a good field. Programming (Code Monkey) and IT support are not as much - but they also don't require reputable CS degrees.
      • by baadger (764884)
        I was in the final year at my college that had the opportunity to do any decent Computing (Computer Science). The year I left the teacher (who was in his 40's and had spent over two decades as a programmer) left, due to health reasons, and was replaced by a French teacher with minimal 'qualifications' in VB (We had done Pascal and Delphi).

        In the second year there were only six of us. Meanwhile the IT course, which was essentially just excel spreadsheets and report writing, was packed out with too many peopl
    • by servognome (738846) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:35PM (#14068869)
      Interest in being a CS major has dropped because there is a well known stereotype about IT workers being the most overworked and underappreciated and underpaid people in any business.

      IT workers are so much less paid and appreciated than farm workers, landscapers, road construction crews, secretaries, food service etc.

      There are a lot of people in this world who feel underpaid and underappreciated. How many times do IT professionals have to ask to use the restroom, or to take a 10 minute break, or have their lunch scheduled to the minute.

      The drop in CS majors is more a perception of lack of opportunities, along with social stigma, rather than horrid working conditions and low pay.
      • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:16AM (#14069046)
        On the other hand, it is the rare farm worker, landscaper, road construction crew, secretary, or food server, etc. that has taken a minimum of 4 years of expensive education. I am not one to knock the trades, I have done a couple of the jobs above myself in order to pay for the previously mentioned education bit, but to try and compare the two as far as expectations go is silly.

        And for that matter, some of the road crews I ahve seen are treated with more respect and better conditions than many of the IT workers I have seen thanks to their unions.
  • No, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ichthus (72442) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:47PM (#14068632) Homepage
    ...the mainstream is enamoured with geekdom.

    True geeks will never go mainstream. They'll (we'll) always be geeks unto our own.

    • Re:No, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:03PM (#14068725)
      No, they are not enamoured with geekdom.

      Just a short time ago, I was sitting around having coffee with a few average (cute, smart-ish, normal) chicks I'm friends with and a couple random guy friends and a couple people most of us didn't know.

      In the course of conversation, I said something to the effect of "well, what do you expect - I'm a geek!".

      To which one of the cute girls said (as if the words that had just come out of my mouth were something like "I'm a fat disgusting stupid braindead loser")... "Oh no, you are not! Don't be so hard on yourself!".

      Seriously. I mentioned completely unashamedly that I'm just your typical geek and the response I got was this sort of consoling "dont' say such terrible things about yourself" kind of comment. She (and she wasn't alone in this) actually thought I was berating myself with such a label.

      Geeks have this fucked up notion that the world loves a geek and that everyone sits around and admires the prowess of nerds, dorks and geeks. Guess what? THEY DO NOT. The people out partying and drinking and having a good time with other good looking successful non-geeks see you as someone to do their homework and fix their computers. You are not someone to be in awe of anymore than they should be in awe of the Maytag man or their mechanic.

      Hearing people prattle on about how acceptable it is seem pathetic, to me. It's like the biggest group of losers in highschool getting together and saying "hey, we're totally cool! honest!" and believing that because *they* think they're top shit - the whole world does, too.

      If you don't believe it, look at the Vonage ad running on Drudgereport right now that says something like "No fees. No installation. No problems. NO NERDS".

      I'll proclaim my geekdom around other geeks. People outside of the geek inner circle have no need to know this about me. I'm just a normal person.
      • Re:No, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Omestes (471991) <[omestes] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:10PM (#14068763) Homepage Journal
        This might be because of two definitions of the word geek. One is the socially bad one, of a some smart, but socially annoying guy hiding in his parents basement. The other, good definition is that of a generally tech savvy individual with wide reaching interests, and a short attention span for various forms of knowlege (grokk everything, and move on). The later is okay now, whereas before we were creepy.

        Really, its sort of like saying "Yeah I hacked my box", where the non-geek will take it as what we take to mean "skr1ptk1dd13" crap, when we actually mean, "it didn't work right, so I rewrote my OS" We're so used to talking to ourselves, that we forget that people use these words differently in the real (non /., non serverfarm) world.

        Also, who said you have to be a techie to be a geek? I'm a philosophy geek first, and technology comes second. I think tech is just the primary obsession of geeks since it's easier to tweak/hack/control.
        • Re:No, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:51AM (#14069822)
          "This might be because of two definitions of the word geek. One is the socially bad one, of a some smart, but socially annoying guy hiding in his parents basement."

          All nerds who live in their parents basements who have hot girlfriends disagree with you!

          I know guys who still live with their parents simply because it makes no financial sense to live on their own, it's just North american cultures obsession with 'independence' that stigmatizes someone still living with their parents. Many people do simply because it is the most rational thing to do, not to mention many of those nerds may be *looking after their parents*. In japan and in other cultures living with your parents is considered very normal, not to mention the huge surplus of money you save and have to spend on what you want not giving it over to your profiteering landlord.

          Sure it's nice to be independent. People go ahead and live on their own and fork out that money to their landlord, meanwhile the nerds are enjoying their new HDTV and Xbox 360, while the other guy is considering having to make the choice of one or the other. The basement nerd stigma is ridiculous, these people are still human beings (I can see the jokes coming).
      • Notice how you posted this at 10:03PM (CST) on a Friday :)

        I have an excuse, the lady and I are both coughing up phlegm and virii, heh.

        You're right though, geeks are still uncool and unchic. Maybe companies are trying to sell geeks as chic in order to get more geeks interested in their products?

        As an ex-club owner, I can most definitely tell you that my standard door policy was to never let in people like me. Sell out? Maybe. But you don't pay $15k a month in rent on standards...
  • It takes a lot of work to be a "geek" in any real sense of the word. Learning the ins and outs of math/science/technology/whatever requires time and commitment, which most people can't (or won't) afford. So why go through all the hassle when you can just pretend you're "down with it" and join the crowd. It's just like any other cultural trend: take (more modern) rap music for example. Not everybody can rap like P. Diddy, but if you wear his clothes and represent yourself as if you were part of his culture,
  • Hollywood version (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ylikone (589264) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:50PM (#14068645) Homepage
    Only the hollywood version of the "geek" has gone mainstream. If people knew and understood real geeks, nobody would want to be one.
    • by twistedcain (924116) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:44AM (#14069143)
      My wife's friend asked me the other day how to setup up yahoo chat on her computer because (in her words) her friend, who is a real computer geek wants her to join her and her friends online. I asked her why she called her a computer geek. She told me that she has a webcam setup and she's always using the computer to chat.
      Im not offended when I am called a geek, but when people with the computer skills of an average 3rd grader are considered computer geeks, hollywood has truly distorted the word.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      If people knew and understood real geeks, nobody would want to be one.
      I don't think it's really a choice, anyways. I've never seen somebody cross over to/from being a geek.
  • it's not "Save Pedro," it's "Vote for Pedro" or my favorite "Pedro Lack Political Experience" [bustedtees.com]
  • Yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by m.h.2 (617891) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:53PM (#14068664) Journal
    ...and chicks throw their panties at me when they see me in my "Free Kevin" T-shirt.
  • by Robotbeat (461248) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:53PM (#14068665) Journal
    Sorry to say, but I just think that the "computer geek" pin-up model just fits too well with the typical computer geek... TOO well to be a pin-up, maybe. I don't really think that geek will ever really be cool or sexy, since an important part of what makes someone a geek is the lack of concern for coolness and a really under-developed (read:adolescent) sexual identity. Not only that, but the most geeky geeks that I know are much more concerned about the most correct logical conjugation of something than the idea that other people (especially those who aren't too interested in some obscure geekiness) even exist as incarnations other than a computer-screen glow. I mean, being a geek seems antithetical to being cool.
    • under-developed (read:adolescent) sexual identity

      Maybe I'm being defensive here, but as someone who identifies as a geek, I don't believe that geeks have to be sexually inept or oblivious. For heaven's sake, i've got geek friends who swing. I'm a geek, I dance funny, but I know my way around.

      I agree that geek won't go mainstream, though. A watered down co-op version will, and then it will die out. But being a geek means truly enjoying and exploring your intellectual abilities, something that you either
      • This isn't as complicated as people make it out to be. If you are a geek and that translates into marketable skills then you will be paid well. This being paid well allows you to buy the things that signal to a woman you are a potentially good mate. So if geek goes cool it will be to the extent that it is marketable in the job market. With the economy moving more and more toward a "knowledge" orientation I assume this will become more and more the case.

        Fairly simple really.
    • antithesis [m-w.com]

      For the non-geeks. *ahem*
  • by No Such Agency (136681) <abmackay AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:59PM (#14068703)
    Since when did a movie like that make geeks look "cool"? It's about a guy with several stereotypically geeky hobbies, who can't get laid AT ALL despite being at least reasonably attractive. Yeah, he's "nice" but that's like saying Gone With the Wind helped whites accept blacks because Mammy didn't shoot and rob Scarlett (much as the rest of us may have wanted to).

    Notice they didn't make the character a beer-bellied 40-year-old sports fan virgin with a collection of World Series bobbleheads, that's all I'm saying. Don't kid yourselves that geeks are now "cool".
  • by Tassach (137772) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:59PM (#14068705)
    Not everyone who choses comp sci or some other "geeky" degree is automatically a geek. A lot of people are just in it for the money. If you look at the graph in the one linked article [cra.org], there are two spikes -- the first one starting in the late 70's and early 80's and peaking in 83-84, which corresponds with the rise and fall of the 8-bit personal computer era; and the second one centered around the internet bubble. When computers were percieved as being a cool and/or profitable career in mainstream culture, a lot of people gravitated for it for the status and/or the money, not because they were computer geeks. When the bubble bursts and computers fall out of the spotlight, the trend-followers leave for greener pastures.
  • The smell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TEMM (731243) on Friday November 18, 2005 @10:59PM (#14068708)
    University of Victoria in BC, Canada did a survey among their female computer science students to find out why it isnt popular among women. It must be pointed out that UVic has a 30% female CS student population, and are shooting for 50%. The number one reason given in this survey was girls dont like CS because the classrooms and labs smell. Not surprising, since it seems that CS students personal hygiene skills are more lacking then their social skills. Sometimes it is to the point where Im ashamed to call some of these people my colleagues.
  • by ITchix0r (883851) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:04PM (#14068726)
    "Geek" in the mainstream is just a fad. Geek as many of you know it, can refers to the poor skinny white kid with glasses who have a hard time ever get any. What's the difference between something like The Real World (real show on MTV) or like Geeks in a Basement (something I just made up). It just exposes us to something that we're not normally accustomed to seeing, that's all. Isn't the reason why we watch tv? To be in our own fantasy world or to laugh at others?

    Having a degree in computer science isn't necessarily the only way to get a computer related job when one graduates college. At my school, there are other computer related majors such as information studies (IS) and management information systems (MIS), which have different roots. I am a female MIS major at my school. The ratio of males to females in my major classes is around 60/40.

    I could be a programmer when I graduate, though someone with a degree in CS would typically be more equipped to be able to do a better job than I am. I think most of the MIS girls here are going to be the project manager types as opposed to computar geeks (me). Most of the guys I know who drop out of CS go to IS or MIS (they mostly go IS because it has less prereqs).
    • I am not well informed about your MIS program so I won't make so many assumptions as the previous reply to your comment. I am a geek, sure, I use Linux, I read Slashdot, I love technology, but it by no means defines me socially.

      I am a computer engineer. I also do consultant work in IT/IS. As a computer engineer in the IT field I manage projects that involve the construction of systems. CS types and MIS types are both crucial in the process of specifying and designing a system that solves a problem. I r
  • Being a geek isn't cool, things geeks knew 20 years ago are now becoming cool. The technology we knew of/designed/supported have now gone main stream so more people seme like geeks. But in the heart of every true geek there is a love beyond "it's fashionable", the love of code/toys/pcs/whatever. While at the moment it's "cool" to be a geek the real geeks are never seen because we're too busy doing our own thing and ignoring the fads.

    Give it 5-10 years and we'll see the fad blow over. When it does you'll see
  • Popular media starring "geeks" are nothing new. See Egon Spengler and Louis from Ghostbusters. See Erkel (if you must). Or Melvin Belvin (Happy Days). Or this [monkeymethods.org] delightful spread of Mr. Gates.

    If anything, "geekdom," in America at least, is in decline. During the space race, NASA engineers were revered. Now they are the subject of mockery. There was a time when the public was excited about the release of new American cars. And as the summary states, computer science is less enticing to young scholars.

    Two
  • Being a geek is hard. Pretending to be one is somewhat easier.
  • by Quixote (154172) * on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:06PM (#14068743) Homepage Journal
    Two pinup calendars of geeks have been released this year .... So if being a geek has really become cool, why .... women are still a minority in computer and engineering fields?

    Maybe because such stupid calendars? When was the last time you saw Linus, Ingo, and Stallman on a pinup calendar? Sure, you will kid about their (esp. Stallman) appearance. But that is my point!! Nobody cares about these male ubergeeks' appearance; why should we care about the female geeks' ?

    I, for one, would like to see more sites dedicated to the many female geeks in our community who quietly toil away. The best way to promote geekdom among women is to highlight the women geeks' accomplishments, and not their vital stats. (If there are such sites out there, please post some links).

  • Geek redefined... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:07PM (#14068748)
    Geeks haven't gone mainstream. Mainstream - as it always does - has borrowed elements from what it thinks geeks are about and misappropriated them. Namely, it's taken consumer electronic technology advancement and misidentified what is a continuation of the hi-fi, walkman and telephone as geekiness. That's just human progression, geeks are always one step ahead (or behind, depending on how you look at it).

    The core of being a geek mainstream will never have; the focussed, almost obsessive interest in certain subjects. Mainstream by definition is superficial, throwaway and temporary, geekdom is built on much more substantial foundations such as science, knowledge and a need to understand.
  • by Mirkon (618432)
    Vote Pedro indeed.

    Being considered a "geek" is almost farcically easy anymore. You don't have to possess a mental lexicon of three-letter abbreviations, write a Z80 assembly program, or even understand how an operating system switches processes. No, nowadays someone is a "geek" for simply making a website or knowing the three-finger salute. It's very accessible, and people like patting themselves on the back for being knowledgable ("a geek") even if they only skim the surface.
  • Enrollment Drop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:11PM (#14068767) Homepage
    Enrollment has dropped for one reason: the bubble burst.

    I started college in 2001 right before the bubble burst (it was just starting). I can't tell you how many idiots there were who entered CS along with me. There were people there who had never used a computer (literally). People who didn't know how to type, people with no math skills (I'm talking sub-algebra), etc. Those people were obviously in it for the money (which they all freely admitted). There was one or two (usually older adults) who decided to do it to learn more ("I don't know anything about computers, and I wanted to learn what made them tick."), but the vast majority were in it for the cash. Even among those who were more qualified, there were many who were in it for the money. You could tell who was who pretty easily. Those with the real passion already knew many things from studying it themselves. Those who wanted the cash tended to do the bare minimum and write horrid code ("As long as it works!").

    Now that the bubble has burst, those people aren't there. If you want to compare enrollment numbers, look at the numbers from 1992 or 1995 so (before the bubble). I don't know what those numbers are, but I would think they would be more representative.

    From what I hear, bio-med is the new CS. That (along with possibly accounting) is where you go if you want money as it is the new in industry with high pay.

    It would be interesting to see how enrollment has changed over the last 10-20 years if you could filter out the gold-diggers. It would still be higher during the bubble from people who went into computers because they found them interesting (as they became more popular, more people became exposed, so more become interested). I'd love to see that.

    As to the question "Have geeks gone mainstream"? No. They haven't. They never will. They existed in the '50s. They existed in the '70s. They existed in the '90s. They exist today. That is nearly 60 years and they haven't gone "mainstream" yet. Blacks have gone mainstream in that time (they are no longer outcasts). Gays have gone mainstream (you may say they're not there yet, but they are more than geeks). And geeks existed before the 1950s too. I don't think it will ever happen. We may get some acceptance, some respect, but we're not going to be mainstream. We're never going to see "pro-geeks" like we see "pro-atheletes".

    At least not any time soon.

    • Blacks have gone mainstream in that time (they are no longer outcasts). Gays have gone mainstream (you may say they're not there yet, but they are more than geeks).
      All three of those categories only exist in popular culture as caricatures.
  • Geek is like cool (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Geek is like cool: You don't declare yourself geek, you must be considered by your peers to be geek.

    This doesn't mean that geek is cool, nor that cool is geek.
  • Look at the pointy knees!
  • "Have Geeks Gone Mainstream?"

    I can tell you from first-hand experience with females: NO, Geeks have not gone mainstream!!
  • So if being a geek has really become cool, why has interest in CS as a major dropped among incoming freshmen and women are still a minority in computer and engineering fields? Is it cooler to pretend to be a geek (wear 'Save Pedro' shirts, etc.) than to really be one?"

    Austrailians were cool for a while, but you didn't see people running off to that prison. And that was one of those nice club-med style prisons, not some solitary confinement.

  • This is just an example of why geeks are geeks.

    Anyone remember the anti-Soviet propaganda? "Do you want to wear all the same clothes, and eat at the same restaurants, and stand in line just to go to the same store?" Well, there'll be about 50,000 kids tomorrow wearing the same "retro" t-shirts, waiting outside IKEA, venti pumpkin-spice latte in hand.

    Emo kids, goths, urban kids, etc., are always looking for someone "cool" to imitate. How many people will you see tomorrow with the same uniform on - trucker ca
  • by zymurgy_cat (627260) on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:34PM (#14068868) Homepage
    Being a true geek, at least in the sense that most here would understand, can never be "mainstream." If it ain't sports or business or the like, it isn't mainstream.

    For example, I was once out to dinner with several people in a business setting. The subject of high school sports came up. Five guys at the table spent the better part of an hour discussing divisions, rules, team rivalries, and the intricacies of who plays whom in what division/playoff/etc. They could discuss all the rule changes over the past 20 years and the pros/cons of it. You could have called them sports geeks, but that's a contradiction in terms in my opinion. Most people could at least follow the conversation or understand it or even have some remote interest in it.

    Now imagine if that conversation instead was about FreeBSD vs. NetBSD vs. OpenBSD. Imagine if the conversation was about P2P software and the law. Imagine if 5 guys sat around discussing Ruby on Rails vs. Java. Imagine if 5 guys talked about modding a VW to hold a Mac. Most people would yawn or find it too technical or, well, geeky.

    For that reason, true "geekdom" can never be mainstream.
  • Being a geek has always been cool. The reason Leo [wikipedia.org] kept his private life so secret was he was getting mad bootay, and he didn't want people trying to step in on his turf.

    CS is down as a major because people plan to do crazy shit like give laptops to every kid [wired.com]. We're going to end up with 1 Billion computer programmers on the planet, all earning $3/hr.

    That said, we'll probably keep geekin' it up. Not only is it fun, but if she's that big of a BSD fan [uberg33k.com], we're damn well going to try to get our contributions into
  • by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Friday November 18, 2005 @11:45PM (#14068916)
    This is really quite simple. People have stopped going through years of college to get an IT degree because IT jobs are shipped offshore in record numbers. The same thing is happening to engineering and science fields. I couldn't imagine how I could possibly ever advise someone to go through school and enter one of these fields.

    First it was the H1B, then it was offshoring. The damage that these two have done to the field can never be recovered. The ironic part is now that so many people are dropping out of school or refusing to go to school for these fields now for these reasons that actually may be a genuine shortage in several years. Combine these with the fact that it's very difficult for an entry to mid level person to get a job without experience in the exact version of a product and you have successfully doomed the IT field in the US.

    Too bad the US doesn't have apprentice programs such as they use in Germany.

  • by eno2001 (527078) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:17AM (#14069048) Homepage Journal
    In the past when I was growing up (1980s), a geek was a guy or girl who was particularly obsessed with some unpopular but intellectual activity. It could have been computers. It could have been being on the A/V or stage crews. It could have been D&D. It could have been working in the library. Or it could have been chemistry or physics or astronomy. THAT was, is and always shall be the true geek. In fact geeks were also often synonymous with nerds. Typically geeks and nerds were not usually well liked or at best were given some kind of freak "mascot" status with the popular people.

    Flash forward to the looney world of today and geekiness has been redefined. Geeks now have an edge. If they are female, maybe they wrap their slighlty overweight figures in goth clothes instead of the traditional sweater and ill fitting jeans. They use Manic Panic hair dye and shop at Hot Topic where they get their pseudo-fetish garb. They have "attitude" because they now know that the world is their oyster. The guys ditched the glasses for contacts and the pocket protectors for gadgets. They all listen to emo. Or at least, this is what the media wants you to believe.

    Many of today's geeks as defined by and in the media (both self professed and knighted) aren't really geeks at all. They're still kids trying to fit in and choosing yet another fashion fad that tries, but fails, to be truly self-deprecating. And the interests of these so-called geeks are no longer unpopular. Video gaming? I think that pretty much knocks out the interest in popular music that used to be the hallmark of teen life. Role playing games? There are lots more people who are into them these days and they have that "edge" that the originals lacked. Graphic Novels? The only thing geeky about that activity is the interaction with the sneering comic book guy jackass who runs the store where they are sold.

    Computers? Ahhhh yes. Computers. There are so many people who mistakenly assume that someone who can fix a minor problem or tweak a Windows box is a "computer geek". Ask one of these "geeks" how to tell if they are being scanned via the command prompt and you'd likely get a blank stare. People who can use Windows at even a moderately advanced level are not "geeks". They are simply people who have learned how to use a mainstream appliance. The number of e-mail addresses or IM clients one has does not make them a geek. It's a lot like calling people in the 80s who could actually set their VCR and Microwave oven clocks, "geeks". basic computer usage is no longer a qualifier to the title geek.

    Gadgets? One of the BIGGEST mistaken assumptions by the masses and the media is the confusion between a geek and a "gadget guy". It's an easy one to make because most people are bewildered by gadgets and assume that mastery of these devices MUST be a geeky persuit. Of course, they are wrong. Ownership of a large screen television, two cell phones with bluetooth, a PDA, pager and home theater set up do not endow one with "geekiness". Tragically, the gadget guy is simply a conspicuous consumer with nothing better to do than attempt to master these machines and thereby appear "geeky" to the less perceptive. Most gadget guys tend to be office workers with little or not actual technical or scientific background at all. The true geek BUILDS his own A/V gear. He eschews the big box stores like Best Buy and prefers to scour the internet for circuit diagrams for the latest audio amp and then orders the parts to build it from Digikey. Do not think that because you can plug in a brand new SATA or IEEE1384 adapter card that you are a geek. The real geeks you went to school with would laugh their horkly little nasal passages away at the notion that one considers themselves a geek for using a PnP PCI card. No sir... back in the day, it was editing CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT and making sure you had enough free memory in the right spots. Today, as horrible as PnP can be, it's still child's play compared to what REAL geeks were do
  • Image (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fr05t (69968) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:46AM (#14069146)
    The "Image" of being a geek is now "Cool".

    I remember back when I was in High School there were a lot of kids wearing the latest skateboarding fashions. Now I feel the way I did then - "I got the crap kicked out of me for being who I was, and now someone else is popular pretending to be me. WTF?"
  • Part of it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @02:19AM (#14069413) Homepage
    As society becomes ever more shallow, but strives to constantly become more "wholesome" and "down to earth" (and becomes even shallower in the process) they look for the next fad out there that they can latch on to that will make them feel like they are accomplishing their goal. For girls, it used to be the whole Bohemian thing....now they're hearing and seeing in the media that geeks tend to be more genuine, nicer, and more intelligent than these people are, so they seek to emulate us.

    Although I do have to admit, for those of us guys who only are attracted to geek girls...this is certainly bringing in some fresh blood. The funny thing is, while they want to pretend to be like us, they don't really want to be us. They don't have the same interests that we do, they just have an interest in our subculture. Original geeks flocked together because of their geeky interests, these people are flocking to us now because of the media attention.

  • by alizard (107678) <alizardNO@SPAMecis.com> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @04:34AM (#14069683) Homepage
    these days at the college level, knowing that the business community does not value her services and will seek to offshore any job she might get ASAP... knowing that people like Bill Gates who whine about "the lack of kids taking science and technology degrees" actually mean that they want to cherry-pick the top 1% of CS, etc. graduates and leave the other 99% flipping burgers at McDonald's with tens of thousands of dollars of college debt burden their fellow workers don't have, knowing that the Hollywood content cartel is doing its well-funded best to make sure that any new consumer technology she comes up with in the US is either suppressed or crippled, is going to:
    1. say "fuck it", go for an MBA, and maybe write Open Source code in her spare time
    2. go country shopping... very possibly, start by looking for foriegn institutions of higher learning
    The "mainstreaming of geeks" is basically pop culture adjusting to the idea of "geeks" making serious money... just in time to catch the tail end of the trend. "Geek chic" is bullshit, at the end of the day, it's about making a living.
  • Geeks (Score:3, Funny)

    by H0D_G (894033) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:52AM (#14069828)
    I wear the badge of geek proudly, as;
    A geek is a guy who has everything going for him, but he's just too young. By contrast, a nerd will be a nerd all of his life.
    - John Hughes, film director
  • 2 points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bokmann (323771) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:41AM (#14070040) Homepage
    1) I hear people talk about building PCs the way they used to talk about tweaking their hot rods in the 50's and 60's. Heck - I just put together an AMD X2 4400+ with 4 gigs on an ASUS motherboard and can have a 'normal' conversation about it with pretty much anyone. My brother, the most non-technical person I can think of (he is a salesman) asked me "What kind of case did you put it in?". Geek has gone mainstream.

    2) A college professor I know from a local user group says that 'typing speed has become macho'. That is, once a thing used to measure secretary pools is now used as bragging rights among teen boys in the context of who can type more words while fragging their opponent in an FPS.

    Geeks went mainstream several years ago, when instead of being the character that was picked on, they became either the hero of the film (Jurassic Park, Independence Day), or the character you empathise with (Napolean Dynamite, Office Space, or heck - even Revenge of the Nerds).

    -db
  • by Caspian (99221) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:29AM (#14070771)
    Are geeks still being called horrible names in schools? Are they still being beaten up and ridiculed? Do they still have to fear for their safety on buses, in locker rooms, and on their way home from school?

    If so, geeks have not gone mainstream.
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:35AM (#14070807)
    This is one of those frequent Slashdot articles by someone who's had a personal realization, then goes on to think that their ephiphany is cutting edge thought. In reality, geekdom started melding into mainstream society in the mid-1990s and has been mainstream for at least the last 5 years. You walk into any coffeeshop and see half a dozen people using notebook computers, 50% of which are iBooks or PowerBooks. You hear middle-aged women talking about WiFi configuration in the supermarket. Battlestar Galactica is hugely popular. Linux is written about weekly in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

    If anything, I think there's a new breed of geek: the person who isn't as introverted as stuck in his or her ways as classic geeks tend to be. And from that point of view, Slashdot is more of an old-geek magnet, something to be chuckled at for it's quaint naiveness, much like Wired.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @11:54AM (#14070887)
    Maybe, as tech becomes more speciallized, people are going into related majors such as software engineering, or information technology?

    I have no idea myself.
  • Psuedo geeks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StarsAreAlsoFire (738726) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @12:25PM (#14071028)
    Being psuedo-geek is 'cool' and sells shit. Which is to say, the geek is now a demographic to be marketed to.

    Sitting and home and coding or working out physics problems for fun is just as rare as it has always been.
  • by ckedge (192996) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @01:40PM (#14071356) Journal
    .

    And I think the rest of you are a bunch of Uncle Tom type loosers to have "adopted" the words yourselves.

    When I was young these were words used to denigrate me, make me feel like less of a human being. When other people who would not use those terms to describe themselves - use those terms to describe others - it is NOT complimentary. It is "ooooh look at that strange stupid silly ugly cute thing." It's not quite as vindictivly used as when they were young and immature, but they might as well be saying "OOOH LOOK AT THAT FAT CHICK".

    I am not a strange animal to be leered at, made fun of, or ostracised. I am a human being capable of doing some things that most people are not as comfortable doing - and that's it.

    I'm a techie. I'm not just another human being, I'm better than they are. But I'm not going to hold it against them. So life didn't deal them the brains or experience to deal with technical things. Big deal.

    .

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