Thanks for visiting Geek Studies. I’m Jason Tocci, a grad student in Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. For my doctoral dissertation, I’m doing a study on “geek” cultureâ€”the media use, social identity, and market formations of those who self-identify or are typically considered by others as geeks, nerds, dorks, and so on.
Why study geeks? Well, I started grad school to study comic art and visual communication, then moved into studying video games. I started noticing a common thread in some of my projects on comics and games, and I decided to start thinking about it in terms of geek culture when a friend gave me a t-shirt that said “Han Shot First.” The shirt features a sci-fi movie reference, is produced by an online comic artist whose strip is about video games, and is being distributed through an online store owned by a company related to open source technology. Somehow, all of this is marketed and claimed by fans themselves under a word that some consider an insult and others consider a badge of pride. What it means to be a geek is changing slowly, and these changes reveal interesting dynamics in the way communities work and media are used.
Ever since I started researching this as a course paper over a year ago, most of my interviewees have expressed interest in being kept up to date with how the project is going. It can be hard to coordinate that sort of thing via email, as I learned, though a couple of my interviewees suggested that I start up a web page to help keep people updated on my progress and solicit feedback. Considering that my subject group is known for its tech savvy and user participation, I’m hoping this site will help to produce a more fully considered study of geek culture. Thanks go to my thoughtful (anonymous) interviewees for setting me in this direction.
If I were to update here only to post new revisions and to self-promote, I suspect it would get boring pretty fast for all parties involved. In addition to occasionally soliciting feedback on papers, then, my plan is to post the links here that I’d otherwise just be emailing myself for later reference. I’ll also write up observations and ideas that may be the seeds for chapters or papers related to games, comics, technology, and so on.
Please feel free to comment, lurk, or email directly to jtocci [at] asc.upenn.edu.