Some Thoughts on Ruggedized Geekdom

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As I write this, America’s response to COVID-19 has been dismal without federal vision. There are many problems, but one of the things I’ve been considering is the status of geeky activities: cons, gaming events, cosplay, etc.

This is not intended to be flippant or minimize issues. However these activities are big parts of people’s lives, create and reinforce social ties, and encourage creativity and development. They do matter, and I wondered how they can survive our current situation, become stronger, and build a better geeky community. My barely-organized thoughts are as follows.

As a note, this is based on two things. One is my knowledge of organizational structures. The other is what I’ve observed, learned, etc. about the virus, possible treatments, and responses. The short form is I think this will bedevil the world for two years, that a vaccine IS possible (but needs annual updates), that there will be better treatments/preventatives, but lots of people aren’t going to follow science.


Conventions should plan for the worst case scenario of no in-person cons happening until mid-2021 easily, possibly start of 2022. I’m missing them as much as anyone, but there’s not going to be anything big until we have a widespread vaccine, and even if we find preventative/prophylactic medication who’s going to take the risk.

But we also needed to rethink cons anyways. Some are overly huge draws. Small ones provide useful niches but get ignored. There’s giant logistical challenges. So here’s my takes.

  • Every con out there should plan to go virtual for the next 18 months easily.
  • A kind of “league of conventions” needs to be formed to share knowledge, tech, and ensure survivability.
  • Cons should consider breaking up into smaller events online, then possibly in person, then re-consolidate if needed.
  • Cons should look at things like outdoor events, etc. that will minimize risk when we’re nearer the end of this.
  • Small cons need to Voltron together right now to support each other.
  • We need convention guides and info sites to focus on virtuality and track them.
  • Duplicate con events as singular events – online viewings, dealer rooms, etc.


Argh. I didn’t play a lot of tabletop and P&P RPGs as of late, but I wanted to get back into them, and now this happens. I can’t imagine how devastating this is for various gaming groups and stores. Fortunately I’ve seen a lot of gaming groups going virtual or having it as an option anyway.

  • First, I don’t know how bad this is going to be for game stores, but my guess is pretty devastating – many held gaming events. It’s imperative for people to support them.
  • I think we need to see someone write and promote guides on moving gaming groups virtual temporarily. Discord, tools, etc. I see people pick this up by osmosis.
  • Other groups (con groups, cosplay groups, etc.) need to promote these.
  • Gaming groups are great ways to build virtual events to – you guessed it – support cons.


I belong to a bunch of these, and trust me they’re helping a lot of us stay sane and focused. Be it writing, art, or cosplay, these are vital. Fortunately, a lot of these have been going virtual for ages (in fact, I think they’re ahead of gaming groups). The ones I’m part of have adapted well.

  • These groups should cross-pollinate. I’m doing that with my current groups, and it’s helpful to maintaining them, and is psychologically comforting.
  • Some groups are good at specializing, and this helps cross-pollination. Have a “shut up and write group” share members with a “business writers” group.
  • Combine with other events to promote the socializing. We run a movie night and I promote it into my writing groups. This further reinforces things.
  • Start doing presentations WITH cons and other events – be a source of events!


These seem to have moved online pretty easy based on my experience, so hey, my folks, keep at it. A few thoughts

  • These groups can be vital to building social ties and be ready to help people. We need groups like this.
  • Video groups especially can help support other groups as they can be sites of casual socialization.
  • Experiment with different technologies and try them out – I’ve found out about optimizing experiencces.

A few more thoughts on what geekdom can do to ruggedize.

  • SPEND. Financial supports of cons, groups, meetups, dealers, etc. Put your money where your mouth is.
  • VOLUNTEER. People may be busy, but we should step up to help our various clubs and groups and cons out.
  • DON’T depend on one technology. Do not count on Discord, Facebook, Zoom, etc. if at all possible. Use multiple technologies as social backup.
  • RECRUIT. Get people involved and help out. We need people actively supporting geeky communities.
  • LEARN AND SHARE. Get to know all these tech tools and share your knowledge.
  • RELAX. Treat yourself right, let your hobbies support you, and don’t overdo it.

So those are my thoughts of a more rugged geekdom. There’s a lot to do – and a lot I need to do more of. But maybe we can build a stronger geekdom in a hard world.

Steven Savage

Activities For the Civic Geek: Diversity In Geekdom

Geekdom is about enthusiasm, intelligent, and imagination.  Those things are better when we have a broad community that supports different people – and it’s the right thing to do.

Geekdom, that grand celebration of enthusiasm and brains and inspiration, is a wonderful place.  However there are times – let us be honest – it has been to narrowly defined.  It’s been defined by race, gender, even sexual preference and economic strata.  The image of the white, nerdy, straight guy still haunt us – even those of us who are white nerdy straight guys.  People in geek history get forgotten because they didn’t fit the mold – or shut out because they don’t.

So it’s up to we geeks to make sure this is a place for everyone.  Otherwise we really can’t call ourselves geeks, can we?

Here’s a few things you can try:

  • There’s many good causes.  Again, simply donate or raise money for them.
  • Donate equipment.  A lot of good geeky causes involve IT skills and training, so maybe you – or your employer or company – can make a donation.
  • Go get involved.  A lot of organizations fighting the good fight for equality and diversity need people to teach, speak, and more.  You may just learn something when you get hands-on.
  • Visibility.  A lot of people don’t know that the issues of bias that can occur in geekdom, so make them visible in your writing, your convention rules, convention events, and more.
  • Invite.  A lot of the organizations listed below (and many others not listed) would be delighted to speak at your business, convention, club, campus, and more.
  • Team Up.  Many causes for geeky diversity and underserved communities involve training and projects, such as teaching coding or website development.  Why not have your club, con, or even business employ people from one of these groups?
  • Think Geek broadly.  Challenge and change yourself.


Geekery really isn’t geekery without diversity.  We ignore ideas.  We forget history.  We forget people.  Making an effort for a broader, more historic, more inclusive geekdom is really something for all of us.

See if any of these organizations and groups can help you do more

Geeks Of Color

  • Black Girls CODE – Introduces girls from underrepresented communities to coding. Focuses on community outreach, education, and technology awareness
  • Code 2040 – A nonprofit assisting communities of color by creating paths for education, professional, and entrepreneurial success in technology.
  • Con Or Bust – Focuses on helping geeks of colors and creators of color attend conventions.
  • The Hidden Genius Problem – An Oakland-based nonprofit that encourages technological skills and entrepreneurship for young men of color.

Female Geeks


  • Anita Borg Institute – A historic institute to assist women in technical careers, fostering innovation by ensuring a broad range of people in technology. Provides a variety of services and ways to get involved.
  • Girl Develop IT – A nonprofit that provides accessible programs for women who want to learn coding.
  • Girls Learning Code – A Canadian non-profit that focuses on helping young women learn technical skills in a supportive atmosphere.
  • Girls Teaching Girls To Code – A Bay Area program where women in CS teach Bay Area high school girls to code.
  • Grace Hopper Celebration – Produced by the Anita Borg institute, this is a celebration of women in computing.
  • Ladies Learning Code – A Canadian non-profit that focuses on helping people learn beginner technical skills in a comfortable, social way.
  • Made With Code – Promotes women in coding with projects, events, and mentoring. Has several alliances and supporters.
  • Mothercoders – An organization focused on helping mothers get tech-savvy and up-to-date for this economy
  • National Center For Women And Information Technology – Focuses on correcting gender imbalance in technology, and bringing the balance of diversity to the industry.
  • Rails Girls – A worldwide group that works to empower women with technology.
  • The Ada Initiative – An organization that supports women in technology, with a heavy emphasis on codes of conduct, training, and an embrace of open source.


  • Geek Girl Dinners – Promotes geek girl friendly events, resources, and connection.
  • She’s Geeky – An SF Bay organization that provides events and and conferences around the USA for women in STEM>
  • Tech Girls Canada – Provides national leadership for the various industry groups in canada encouraging women in tech careers.
  • Women Rock Science – A blog about women in science, from resources to history to recent discoveries.

Video Games

  • Girls Make Games – A series of international summer camps encouraging girls to explore the world of video games.


  • Girls Write Now – Supports future female writers with mentoring, advice, and more.





  • The Box Scene – A nonprofit organization focused on representation of people in media


  • Platform – A nonprofit working to increase the participation of under-representted people in the “innovation economy.” Has an annual conference and works with YesWeCode.
  • Tech Access – Nonprofit focusing on providing students of color access to STEM careers via setting expectations, providing role models, and access.


  • We Need Diverse Books – Focus on promoting diverse narratives in children’s literature. Reaches out to individuals and groups in children’s publishing, and is always looking for people to help out.