I’m giving a talk on my dissertation research soon, which means figuring out how to distill a few years and a few hundred pages of work into a 40-minute presentation. Kicking around ideas with my advisor about how to do this, he suggested that I post a super-concise core argument for the talk here on the blog just to see what you all think of it. This is what we last discussed:
People have often told me in interviews that it’s “cool” to be geek ever since Bill Gates demonstrated that geeks can be richâ€”echoing, as it turns out, earlier research that has suggested the same. This may make sense coming from a computer programmer, but for whatever reason, I also hear it from comic book fans, gamers, and plenty of other geeks and nerds who make no claim to computer skill or a lucrative job. The prevailing assumptions of “geek chic” being rooted in economic power, then, may be an oversimplified reflection of a new value accorded to what “geek pride” is really rooted in: intellectual curiosity, on a continuum between the technical and the playful.
What do you think? Is “geeks aren’t rich (and therefore shouldn’t be considered cool because they are rich)” an aha! kind of statement to you? Should the above argument imply (as one person I discussed this with suggested) that geeks are just as powerless as ever if they’re not really making more money than before? Please let me know your thoughts, whether kind or brutally honest. (I do have other parts of the dissertation to draw from, after all.) Thanks!