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Tis the Season to be Geeky

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Chris Vallance | 15:30 UK time, Friday, 15 December 2006

I was at the Geek Christmas Dinner and before that a shin-dig for the Webby Awards trying my very best not to submit parts of my anatomy to flickr via a social networking photocopying enthusiast site. The Geek Christmas Dinner was the brainchild of BBC Backstage, and was probably the largest gathering of serious geeks in the UK this year: over 400 attended and the event was twice oversubscribed. I earned my ticket by interviewing some of the organisers and participants. You can hear the full unexpergated (mostly) interviews at Cubic Garden: my favourite the Web2.0 pronouncements of a very merry t-shirt salesman (or brand evangelists as they are now pleased to call themselves). I also did a live interview with the Weekend News'John Pienaar and Lesley Ashmall. John wanted to know "What's a geek?" an easy question to ask but one that, as befits his gift for Socratic questioning, a surprisingly difficult one to answer. But the question has inspired Kevin Anderson, the Guardian's blogs editor to pen some thoughts:

A geek is someone who talks about technology as much as most men talk about football.

And Kevin goes on to say that being a geek is essentially all about genuine enthusiasm and passion for a subject. In that sense most of us are geeks of one kind or another: we all have our geeky enthusiasms, this is one of mine, and I know at least one colleague who is something of a train geek. True geeks we don't worry if their passions are fashionable, they're fans who stick with a team through thick, and through thin.

Yet as Kevin points out the geek-o-sphere has become a popular topic for the mainstream media. But merely creating a blog about technology or social media or citizen journalism does not a geek make.The irony is that this interest in geeky subject matter is often anything but geeky in its motivation. Geeks write about things they are passionate about. It's why the best media blogs are likewise written by true geeks, the kind of person who's first reaction to breaking news is to blog it from a blackberry, the worst are produced by people who blog out of an urge to keep up with the Jones without any sense of why the Jones got into blogging the first place.

BTW if you are wondering what the picture is on the right. There was a juggling geek at the Geek Dinner too.


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