Geek culture takes over the world

Geek culture takes over the world

Summary: Pia Waugh, a well-respected geek who now works as a "geek liaison" in the office of Labor Senator Kate Lundy, tweeted once that she finds herself amused at people who talk professionally about social media and online communications with enthusiasm, but miss the role that geek culture plays in the space. I agree.

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Pia Waugh, a well-respected geek who now works as a "geek liaison" in the office of Labor Senator Kate Lundy, tweeted once that she finds herself amused at people who talk professionally about social media and online communications with enthusiasm, but miss the role that geek culture plays in the space. I agree.

Open and transparent global communications are nothing new. Geeks have been doing this stuff as long as we've had the internet. If you want to trace it back even further, then open communications where people were respected for their skills and ideas rather than their social status or bank balance have been at the core of academic research for centuries.

Yet, for most people — all the non-geeks — geek culture and philosophy is obviously something new. They're using tools originally designed by geeks for geeks, and it's changing their world.

So what is geek culture? Where does it come from? And why do some people see it as a threat?

We explore these issues and more with two geeks. Silvia Pfeiffer is a developer who's been involved with many open-source software and geek communities and technical standards committees, and has run her own business as well as worked for CSIRO. And Nick Hodge's business card reads "professional geek" for a certain large software company based in Redmond, Washington. Both speak in their personal capacities.

There's also my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 28 minutes, 46 seconds.

Topic: Social Enterprise

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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2 comments
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  • Hi Stil,

    Thanks for the kudos! Good work on the podcast and I just wanted to add that I think that as people are growing up with the Internet, they are also embedding Internet culture into their perspectives, whether that is conscious or not. Online you have a lot of freedom, you can talk to and collaborate with like minded people across the entire world, you can engage with and hold "important" people to account, you can get a range of data and make your own analysis, you can hear first hand about news in another country rather than having to rely on the media, and you learn that perspectives are relative. You also learn that as individual you have the capacity online to do great things, through the democratisation of online publishing, online communities of interest and how accessible our entire society now is becoming.

    Many people also internalise the technical concept of routing around damage. This is one of the more profound impacts of Internet culture on modern society, and I believe we are only seeing the beginning of a society where individuals and community groups are more empowered than ever before.

    Internet culture is rooted in geek culture and it's important to remember the lessons of the past to hopefully work continually towards a more open future.

    It's very exciting times :)

    Cheers,
    Pia
    Pia Waugh
  • Hi Stil. Like the show. I think you touched on a pretty important aspect with the geeks are contributors and creators and not just consumers. This can range from passionate evangelism of things to new content creators (be content code, tools or writing etc). I believe firmly in the principle that everyone is a geek about something.
    Hellokarl-97767