Geek As Citizen: Introduction

So in the weeks to come I’m going to be exploring a subject near and dear to my heart: what it means to be a geek and a citizen of our communities, nations, and the world.

Yes, that can be a fascinating topic, and of course I’m a compelling author (and handsome, too, just noting). But the question comes up: Why write about Geek Citizenship in the first place, or at least why am I doing it when I could be ranting about the video game industry or interviewing cool people?

As much as I love those things, this is a serious subject.

Our focus here at Muse Hack is applied geekery – putting our geek to use, modifying the muse to do more, and turning our creativity and knowledge into something. We’ve talked careers, art, video games, etc. Our role in a civil society is another area worthy of exploration.

Writing about geeks and citizenship is important for the following:

First, geeks are a distinct subgroup. Also, admittedly, one I belong to and care about, so I’m a little biased in focusing on it. The focus on any reasonably specific demographic and it’s role in society is always worth visiting for an intelligent discussion. I’m just going to discuss mine.

Second, geeks are an ascendent group culturally and politically. We’re the heart of the IT revolution. We’re catered to in the media. We’re idolized in many cases, even if at a distance. Companies that are “geeky” are wielding political influence like Facebook. To discuss our role is important since we’re taking more of one (like it or not).

Third, the geek crowd involves a considerable about of talent, education, and ability. We are makers, shapers, creators, and coders. We are informed, educated, and aware. In fact I’d go as far to say that geeks probably don’t know how much they’re capable of. Since we have this power, discussing how we use it is a valid concern.

Fourth, I don’t see the role of geeks in civic society discussed enough. The discussion of Richard Florida’s Creative Class comes close, but even then it’s not far enough for me since the Creative Class doesn’t seem contain the “geek” demographic, merely intersect with it.

What I want to do is discuss these factors because if we can identify ourselves and our social and cultural roles we will be better at them. I am concerned that geeks aren’t as connected or engaged as much as they could be in society. In turn, because of this, our skills, social positions, and contributions aren’t fully realized or are even misused.

I don’t think “Geek As Citizen” is a subject that’s gotten enough attention. The geek presence in culture grew gradually and it’s a bit fuzzy and still being defined. It’s not thought of “as a thing” when it clearly is, probably because many people writing on culture aren’t well connected to Geeks. I don’t think media inertia is helping to say the least.

So, let’s start talking what role we geeks play in society . . .

. . . but first, in our next installment, I’ll try to define what a geek is. Again. I’m probably never going to get tired of trying that.

– Steven Savage