12 December 2003

Are We Not Nerds? We Are Devo!

Even aside from the nerdishness of blogging (let alone blawging). (We'll ignore the fact that I was a hacker back when that was a good thing, because it meant my horizons were larger than making free long-distance phone calls using a blue box.) As today's Guardian notes,

Out in the wider world, the revolution is already underway. Over the past decade, those cultural phenomena that we once filed as geeky minority pursuits have become our masters. The internet now boasts a global community numbering 679 million. Video gaming pulls in more annual revenue than Hollywood. For its part, the film industry seems increasingly in thrall to the comic-book movie (Spider-Man, Hulk), the sci-fi epic (The Matrix, Star Wars) and the wizard fantasy (Harry Potter). Next week sees the release of the final instalment in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, awash with elves and hobbits and surely the most monumental nerd-fest of the lot.

All of which raises some frightening implications. Could it be that there are more nerds today than there were before? If so, shouldn't we attempt to make friends with them sharp-ish, before they start bludgeoning us with plastic light-sabres or introducing viruses into our PCs? And then there is a further, more troubling possibility. Just what constitutes a nerd these days anyway? Might you conceivably qualify as one? Perish the thought, might I?

Xan Brooks, "We Are All Nerds Now" (12 Dec 03).

The most on-point observation in the article, though, is the last one, because it apparently understands the distinction between a "nerd" and a "geek" (that, unfortunately, the rest of the article did not):

Back in Forbidden Planet [a famous London speculative-fiction-oriented book-and-gift shop], I run across Debra, a trainee barrister [!!] who is scrutinising the Living Dead Dolls in the Gothic section (£23.99 for the regular model, £47.99 for the deluxe porcelain edition). Debra is in her late 20s, articulate, well-turned-out, and obviously affluent. "Who cares if I'm a nerd?" she shrugs. "I'm a nerd and you're a nerd and most people you meet out on the streets have a bit of the nerd about them. We are all nerds now."

Lawyer nerds. Scary though. Especially if it wasn't self-evidently true…