— Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) October 11, 2015
Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself.
There is much I can say I loved about the film which currently has a rating of 7.5 on IMDB (stick that in your IMDB party game)
Warning mild spoilers ahead
Malcolm and his friends are teenagers growing up in LA, they are geeks, play in a rock band, get picked on at school, etc. You would be forgiven for thinking – “this is the start of a typical hollywood coming of age film..”
The big difference is they are black americans and living in a culture which doesn’t encourage geekness.
The film starts with the excellent point of, looking at the definition of Dope.
- Slang for an illegal drug (you got any dope?)
- A stupid person (you are such a dope!)
- Affirmation of something’s greatness (that is so dope!)
These themes run through the whole film and connect everything. Malcolm attempts to try and avoid being pulled into the society which surrounds him. There is no doubt this is a coming of age film but the class discrimination and racism really lifts it way above the rest. Even when Malcolm is forced into the world of drug dealing, he uses his brain to get out ahead of the crooked society.
I won’t lie, dope reminds me of some of the dilemmas I faced while growing up (of course to a far lesser degree). I use to think everybody faces these things but it seems not. The conflict of being geeky and not wanting to make the mistakes others fall into featured in my mind a lot. I came out on top but like Malcolm, there are things which I won’t forget and certainly shaped my personality.
The presentation I did for Afrofutures is here., the link with Dope comes in about slide 18. I certainly feel its not good enough to blame the tech sector alone. No, we got to look at the the way things shake out in the culture too. Yes there is a big lack of black people in tech, especially in higher positions but also the culture doesn’t exactly encourage people to embrace our geeky side. Its almost discouraged I feel.
This has lines or connections I believe with the fact their are amazingly senior black people in many other professions including law, financial services, pharmaceuticals, etc. But very few in the tech sector, especially at CEO level.
— Chris Messina (@chrismessina) June 25, 2015
I know this is all a massive generalisation but from what I have seen growing up, it was a fight to be openly curious, interested and switched on or as I prefer, geeky. I imagine lots of black people bury it and ignore it. Or it gets beaten out of you at some point verbally or even physically. You literally have to fight. Some give up fighting and forever regret doing so for the rest of their lives…
When looking at the diversity figures, in every case I found. White people were followed by Asians people. You only have to look at the CEO of Microsoft and Google to see this in full effect. From a outsider view, their culture encourages geeky people. However in black popular culture (generalising again) I am almost embarrassed by the negativity to being geeky and different.
Its was depressing to research but it was worth it because its out there now and its a start of a important conversation for me.
I can only hope the next generation will see right through all this all and make positive strides ending up with a diverse workforce. Originally I was going to submit this to Singleblackmale but I didn’t feel it was the right place to host this at this stage. Maybe I’ll do a more critical blog for them in the near future.
As the tagline to Dope says: Its hard out here being a geek…
One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.
“I want an incisive, inquisitive, insightful, irreverent mind. I want someone for whom philosophical discussion is foreplay. I want someone who sometimes makes me go ouch due to their wit and evil sense of humor. I want someone that I can reach out and touch randomly. I want someone I can cuddle with.I decided all that means that I am sapiosexual.”
I like this description and it seems to fit very well with my geeky personality. Even reading it sends little shivers down my spine. Now thats something I certainly could subscribe to and look for… maybe one to add to my profile? Who knows…
Don’t worry I’ve checked my heart rate and its normal… Never want a repeat of mybrushwithdeath. However I’m trying to avoid getting ill with the horrible bugs that are going around with the change of weather/temperature and people generally getting ill around me.
Whose idea was it to have a BarCamp before Mozfest? Oh yes it was kind of mine, whoops! Its a little self inflicted but deep down I kind of love it too… Sure in some book that makes me slightly sadomasochistic or something…
Quite looking forward to November where I have little planned or scheduled except the flirty weekender… Although I’ve already had somebody ask if I could help with something like Social Media Cafe Manchester? Although I hear rumblings that it might be coming back anyway.
My hope is somebody (I got thoughts) will take on BarCampManchester as a regular thing and do it better than myself. Like what happened in London with the Geeks of London.
Expect normal service to return in a few weeks time… (smile)
Reading my RSS again and Den of Geeks hit me with the post titled When did geekdom become ‘cool’?
You can’t walk down a busy street without seeing a T-shirt with the word ‘Geek’ on it, it seems. So: is this a good thing or bad?
It can’t just be me that does a double take walking down the high street now. After all, more and more people seem to be wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the word ‘Geek’ or ‘Nerd’ on them, as if geekdom has accidentally come into fashion. Lots of people who – at face value – would never be seen dead with such clothing on just a few years ago are now embracing it as a fashion choice. I’d be lying if I said I’ve got used to it.
The whole thing then goes on to slam people who jump on the bandwagon of geek culture. I get it but it seems too simplistic…
I’ve learned that being interested in quality films, shows, comics and books has far more advantages than not. Not since my younger days have I looked at something hurling out the word geek in a derogatory manner and wished I could change places with them. I think my life improved once I worked that out. That notwithstanding, it’s an interesting cultural change that’s taking place. Because not only is geekdom less frowned on, apparently, I’m informed by far more fashionable people than me, it’s ‘cool’ to be a geek or a nerd now. Who’d have ever thought that ten years ago?
I understand the instant feeling of bitter distaste of those people gatecrashing our party. I mean its our party and all those other people use to take the mick out of us, so screw them right?
The problem is with this all, is its too simple!
Through out the whole post, theres references to the most typical of geeky and nerdy stuff. Board games, Comics, role playing, etc. These are but a scratch on the surface of what a geek is. I’m sure I’ve said it a million times but I’ll say it again.
Geek is anyone with a passion boarding into obsession.
There are geeky designers, geeky writers, geeky motorbikers, magicians who are geeky, geeky chef’s, geeky fashion models, people who do up cars who are geeks, knitting and crafty geeks, etc, etc… You don’t think DJs are one of the most geeky people you know? Or heck how geeky are professional photographers!
The post is so badly leading towards the technical realm, it hurts to even read more. We should be encouraging people to look a little deeper within themselves and find what really makes them tick, not pointing the finger back on them and laughing. We’re better than that (I hope).
Luckily theres a bit of what I suggest in the final paragraph…
as a result of cultural shifts going on, I can but hope three things.
One, more people get to enjoy said films, comics, games and shows.
Two, it opens a door for people to enjoy stuff they’ve never thought about trying – and that, in turn, they’re welcomed for doing so (as opposed to being criticised for not being ‘true geeks’, as I’ve seen over the past weeks).
And finally, that those who choose to bully and criticise those for liking something ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’ just think twice about it. If that last wish comes true especially , then Next can sell all the ‘Geek’ T-shirts it likes as far as I’m concerned
Fashion and brands pick up on whats in the zeitgiest, but thats not a good enough reason to get our own back, take the higher road!
Photo credit: bigbirdz
I’ve threaten to do it for a while and its back with a bunch of changes…
Geeks Talk Sexy turns into Geeky & Sexy and the we move from the excellent MadLab to FYG Deli which isn’t far away from Madlab. Madlab is great but it wasn’t great for a fruity conversation. We use to rearrange the furniture quite a bit each time and couldn’t decide what worked best.
Madlab use to make special cocktails for each event, which was great but a event like this really needs drink on demand. FYG has lovely wine and some stunning deli dips and platters. Hopefully there will be a package for food & drink on the day, details coming soon.
Geeky & Sexy will be more about the discussion than presentations and we have new people on board (details to be revealed soon). Unfortunately Samantha is still very busy working on her PhD and Hwayoung won’t be as involved. I can confirm we have a new person on board. Shes the (self described) Nigerian Scouser, Ngunan Adamu, heavily opinionated (usually the total opposite views of myself) and will be very vocal about who pays on the first date, which is also one of the main topics in episode one : Social Etiquette and Politics of first time dating
I’ve seen quite a lot of blogs, notes, and even papers on the question of shouldn’t we teach the next generation how to code? Somewhere in the mix, there’s lots of thoughts that the problem we’re having keeping up with our american friends is because we’ve gone soft on teaching the next generation the essential skills needed to not just become workers but to think for themselves and ultimately take control and drive their own destiny.
And finally there’s a lot of thought that the BBC should be a large part of what ever happens, after the success of the BBC Micro ecosystem back in the 80’s. There is no way I could go on without mentioning the fantastic work which is going on in these areas from Ant Miller, Michael Sparks, Mo McRoberts, Alan O’Donohoe, Keri Facer, Adrian Woolard, etc, etc…
My own thoughts are quite complex on this issue but I wanted to talk about one aspect of it… teaching people to code.
Lots of people have said code is law, code is power, code is freedom, code is a way of life. They may even be right but I have a problem with this…
…I’ve never had any formal programming/computer science training. So obviously I would say, its not as biscuit critical as some people are making out. Don’t get me wrong its powerful and the ability to be able to manipulative the landscape around yourself and others is a fantastic thing to have. However there’s more to it than just this.
I have the power to manipulate and bend the landscape to suit myself, its not so elegant but it kind of works because I understand the systems and services around us. I would conclude this is the hacker mindset (although others would disagree or think I’m being a little broad with the definition.
So what is the hacker mindset? And ultimately what is a hacker and what does this have to do with the next generation? Bruce Schneier explains what a hacker is…
What is a Hacker?
A hacker is someone who thinks outside the box. It’s someone who discards conventional wisdom, and does something else instead. It’s someone who looks at the edge and wonders what’s beyond. It’s someone who sees a set of rules and wonders what happens if you don’t follow them. A hacker is someone who experiments with the limitations of systems for intellectual curiosity.
There’s some keywords in that statement which stimulate my thoughts… But the big one is the Curiosity.
From Secret & Lies, the famous Schneier book which I actually own, but I think I lent to someone? (Glyn?)
Hackers are as old as curiosity, although the term itself is modern. Galileo was a hacker. Mme. Curie was one, too. Aristotle wasn’t. (Aristotle had some theoretical proof that women had fewer teeth than men. A hacker would have simply counted his wife’s teeth. A good hacker would have counted his wife’s teeth without her knowing about it, while she was asleep. A good bad hacker might remove some of them, just to prove a point.)
How do we entourage young people to keep there natural sense of curiosity? Somewhere in the process of growing up its kind of knocked out of young people and I don’t know where it exactly happens. I also feel this fits well with my thoughts about the need for young people to explore their inner geek or passion if you prefer.
I would also suggest curiosity + passion is a killer combination and something a lot more people could do with (imho). This combination seems to be great (although not all of them appear in the 8 great traits) ironically.
Inspiring the next generation is the game and aim here, not teaching young people to code. Being smart, curious and passionate is what I wish for all the young people of this and every nation. How the BBC and BBC Micro Redux project (I totally made that up!) fit into this frame I don’t honestly know, but I know many people are chipping away at this in many different ways. I just hope there ultimate aim isn’t to just create a whole bunch of coders because that would be very dull and a crying shame…
Always interesting to read Miss Geeky’s thoughts on woman in technology. She’s been thinking about a Ladies night at a Comic Store in Nova Scotia. Generally she says in the post, I wish we didn’t need things like Ladies Night to make it *not* intimidating for woman. But its the examples which I find really interesting…
Since moving to London, I’ve visited the Forbidden Planet tons of times. I love the place, it’s filled with wonderful geeky delights, and if I could I’d buy everything that caught my eye. And yet… almost every single time I go there by myself I get hit on. Okay, I kind of get that (geek store, geeky girl, chances of possible perfect match increases). But half of the time they open with something along the lines of whether I ”needed help in finding a present” or something else that completely neglects the fact that I might be there for myself. The thing is it almost always happens when I’m browsing the comics. If I’m at any other part of the store (like the fantasy/scifi books section or the manga section) that type of stuff doesn’t happen. It’s as if most geeks have accepted that girls are into geeky things, like fantasy and manga, but comics… then it’s suddenly “you don’t belong here”.
Seriously, guys? Why assume straightaway that a girl doesn’t belong there? I thought that by now it should be obvious for guy geeks that the geek girl does exist, but it’s moments like I’ve described above that some guys are completely oblivious to that fact. And it’s those guys that are making it difficult for new geeky girls to feel comfortable with being a geek and going to places like comic stores. I know there are tons of guys out there who do understand and don’t make stupid remarks like those above to girls, but it’s that small oblivious group that do that mess it up for everyone.
Its always the subtle stuff which does the damage I find. I’m not pointing fingers but I wonder if media like the Big Bang Theory and IT Crowd are doing much to counter this problem?
I was reading wired on the plane to Dublin today and came across a rather amusing piece about different types of geeks. It had a range of geek stereotypes including the Fanboy (1), the gadget guy (4), the gamer (3) and the hacker (5). What was interesting was the other two, the music geek (2) and the otaku (6). These two are usually forgotten when it comes to geek types, and it was interesting to see Wired magazine made them women.
When I was Futuresonic over the weekend, I certainly met quite a few women who could be loosly termed as Otaku geeks. They even had the super coloured hair and well interesting clothing to go with it. But what I wonder is where is the Dj geek? Designer geek? Movie geek? Mobile phone geek? (which I would argue, isn't the same as gadget guy). Anyway, its all stereotypes and not real. We're all a combination and we all wear better clothes and don't look like we just left college. Embrace your geekness…
- Girls should grow up valuing their Brains over their Looks.
- Boys should grow up valuing women's Brains over their Looks. (yes, yes, I understand genetics… but your boys will have much better relationships if they desire a woman they can fondle AND talk to…)
- Girls should grow up understanding they have control over their bodies.
- Girls should NOT grow up believing that menstruating is a curse and something to be ashamed of (without going into a big long explanation, I believe that deep seated shame and revulsion because of a natural bodily function is at the heart of a lot of women's emotional and psychological problems… but that is for another day…)
- Girls and women should not define themselves exclusively by their relationships with and to other people (ie to put being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend before being an independent person)
- Smart women should be proud to be smart.
- Women should show off their intelligence at every opportunity. Flaunt it.
- Smart women need to take their place in public eye rather than 'just pretty women'.
- Women should never feel they have to put up or shut up.
- Women should always use their gender if it will get them ahead (I mean, if wearing a low-cut shirt at the interview will actually get you the job, then go right ahead. You'll only really *keep* the job if you can actually do it… )
- Women and girls should always remember, 'Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
I'm in almost total agreement with this list. I've been thinking if I was to ever bring up a little girl in this world, these are some of the values I would want to instill in her. My god-daughter Megan is currently number one for values right now.
Some points however, point number 2. Yes I understand Genetics too but come on, have we not evolved passed the dog humping stage now? I agree Boys should grow up valuing women's brains over there looks. Its something I've always done. Looks are subjective and what most of my work mates see as stunning I usually don't find the time for. See for me it was always about the personality and the intellengence. I mean who wants to go to a movie and then somewhere else for coffee and have a conversation about how Donnie Darko was too confusing. Geez, shoot me now. Honestly I don't think men do a very good job respecting women's intellengence. I still hear comments which almost hinge on sexism. I do try and pick people up about these comments but you just know there not going to repeat there sexist comments in front of you again. But will carry on making those comments either way. Its a shame but its there loss.
A general rise in technical literacy driven by gadgets such as the iPod could be evidence that 'geekery' as a personality trait is becoming more pervasive.
You're right about that, geek is no longer a bad thing. It's actually a very good thing to admit now. I bought a range of Tshirts from Jinx recently and I get tons of comments on them. The one which seems to get the most comments is the no one reads my blog one. The most interesting thing is actually who I get the comments from. As you'd expect most of my friends just laugh but I get really nice comments from non geeky people. Its actually tempting to buy more because their really nice on the skin and a good laugh. I mean who would have thought, Not even norton can protect you tshirt would raise a laugh from a very senior manager at the BBC?
Anyhow back to the article, before I start talking about the amount of recent interest from non geek people about setting up their own blogs. Some choice quotes…
For a few years, an interest in computers and technology became inextricable linked with wealth and power – geek became chic. Technology companies suddenly became the focus of the kind of attention that had been reserved for the music or fashion industries. In the UK TV makers even went so far as to create a hip series, Attachments, based around the antics of a tech start-up
Funny you mention Attachments, I was just talking about in this post about Geek sitcoms.
IT industry analyst James Governor of RedMonk, claims that while it may not yet be cool or trendy to admit, a degree of technical sophistication has become expected. He claims that increasingly, “we're all geeks” – even if a lot of people don't care to admit it.
To illustrate his point, Governor recalls a recent conversation involving his wife and some of her friends – mostly women who would probably describe themselves as non-techies. One of the women pulled out a new Windows Mobile smartphone while protesting that she wasn't “a geek”. Governor then politely enquired whether she had her email sychronised to the device – she did. This then initiated a conversation about mobile phone design – the last thing the technical analyst was expecting given the company. “You expect to have that kind of conversation with guys, but not with women,” Governor says.
Although I'll leave the obvious sexual stereotypes alone for now (the women I know are equally geeky and I'm sure to meet even more at the girl geekdinner), James is right. It still makes me smile when I hear non self described geeks friends talk about their mobile phone and it's features in a way which would be frowned upon by their peers if it was about a car. Geez even my mother was giving it the big geeky one about her next washing machine over christmas.
A recent survey by the Sci-Fi channel discovered that an increasing number of women could be included in the ranks of a new demographic it nick-named “New Geek”. The research revealed that a third of the UK's total 6.9 million geeks were actually female. “Whereas once geeks were seen as solitary, embarrassing and uncool, the statistics show that New Geek is chic, popular and hugely influential,” the researchers claimed.
Enough said really! Hey and lets not forget that third is growing all the time. Don't forget the findings of this survey recently.
Somewhere along the line, geek also seems to have lost most of its negative connotations — unlike nerd and anorak, which still tend to be used as insults. The word's reclamation was probably a more or less deliberate effort on the part of geeky technology types who began using it to refer to themselves, say some. “It's a taking-back-the-language thing,” says Jez Higgins, a freelance developer.
To some degree “geek” overlaps with “hacker”, a word used as a badge of honour to mean a particularly adept programmer, though “hacker” has some extra moral implications that “geek” lacks. Most would agree that Bill Gates is a geek, but few would class him as a hacker, due to the perecieved quality of his company's technology and his taste for world domination. “He doesn't have the hacker's ethos,” Higgins says.
Indeed, one of the best things a culture/movement/community can do is take back a negative word. Its what black rappers and gay people did in the 90's. I'm not saying taking back geek is on the same level but it shows a certain maturity in the culture that it's able to do that. Hence things like Geekdinner, Geekcamp, etc. I'm a self described geek and have been caught saying that x is so geek recently. Instead of that x is so cool. Geeking out is another word which use to be quite negative and now has been reclaimed as something good. Even Geekhag is a concious thought that being a non geek but hanging aroudn with geeks is a good thing. I expect that word to circulate more, and remember my wife was always a self described geek hag.
This shift isn't a one-way street, however — we may be coming to resemble geeks a bit more, but through the growing importance of design, technology is also changing to be a bit more human. Strangely enough, many have found the emerging crop of digital video recorders, such as Sky+, far easier to use than the traditional VCR. Gadgets such as the iPod employ complex technology — it's even possible to install Linux on one — but they employ very simple interfaces.
The iPod's success was crowned at the end of last year with designer Jonathan Ive receiving a CBE, and many see such products as the direction geek culture will take next. A new crop of influential programmers, such as 37 Signals' David Heinemeier Hansson or Ubuntu Linux's Mark Shuttleworth, are not even particularly geeky.
“These kinds of people are where the next great successes are coming from, they're great designers and great coders, and also uber-communicators,” says Governor. “Great design is a way to create huge new markets, and that is a lesson IT is learning.”
And a good point to end on. Geek isn't limited to IT. I can argue that Dj's, Designers, Chef's, etc are some of the most geeky people I know. The fact remains that being smart and knowing your stuff is now a good thing. And honestly thats a good thing. I just hope it translates down the line to children in school who sometimes act dumb with their peers so they can fit in (unless they are very strong willed). Can you just imagine a school where not know your stuff will turn you into a outcast? Yeah I can't quite see it yet. But hey I can dream…