|No matter what people may think, geekishness did not spring into
being with the invention of the computer. There have always been
geeks among us. Johannes Keplar and Isaac Newton and all the other inventors
of modern physics were geeks. The medieval philosophers who eagerly
debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin were far less
interested in the spiritual capabilities of angels than in the proto-quantum-mechanical
question of whether there was any limit to the number of immaterial objects
that could be packed into a given space. Imhotep, who designed the
first Egyptian pyramid, was a geek of such outstanding abilities that he
came to be worshipped as a god after his death. We will never know
how many other craftsman gods and culture heroes in the many pantheons
of Earth were also deified geeks.
Most of the greatest artists, musicians, and philosophers have been
geeks as well. If they succeed well enough at their art, they are
likely to be adopted retroactively into the ranks of ordinary folk and
portrayed in the movies by the pretty people of Hollywood. But anybody
who takes the trouble to find out about their awkward childhoods, their
obsessive concern with detail, or their uneasy relationships with their
fellows will know them for what they really were.
that matter, a fair number of the pretty people in Hollywood -- or at
least the more serious ones -- are also geeks under their shiny
surfaces. But that's another story for another day.)
This section of the site is a bit thin at the moment, and not likely
to grow quickly, but my eventual hope is to provide a set
of examples which collectively demonstrate that at every major evolutionary
junction in human history, there has been one or more geeks with a problem
that they just couldn't let go of until they'd found an appropriate solution.
"Tools for Brains" From
the July 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction
comes a science
article more astonishing than any of the stories -- a true account of the
days when the leading edge of computer technology involved hand-cranks,
gearshifts (three speeds forward, one reverse), and speedometers (so you
wouldn't go too fast and spin out on the curves.)
The Net as Universal Metaphor "The
Net" means so many different things to so many people, that to talk about
it at all is to get into very deep waters. But once we acknowledge
that we are speaking in metaphors and not in hard facts, the complexities
become somewhat easier to navigate.
The Influence of Science Fiction Fandom on 21st Century Civilization
This baby's just a gleam in my eye at the moment, but I'm
thinking about how to carry it out. Computer hackers, neo-pagans,
and even latter-day bohemians are among the groups that owe a strong,
if often unrecognized, debt to the fanzine publishers, convention
organizers, and all-purpose weirdos who inhabited SF fandom in its
glory days from the 1940's to the 1960's.
Worlds of Wonder A separate section of this site, with its own focus and concerns, but it also includes a fair amount of
speculation on the role of geeks in prehistory.