Editorial – Nov 2021: Being an organised geek.

October 31, 2021 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Being an organised geek and commenting in the past that we have different grades of geek, it does raise an interesting question whether it is possible to train a geek or at least improve your status if you think you have something lacking?

I mean, we do mostly show common attributes of bloody-mindedness, stubborn, acutely focused and levels of weird knowledge that we carry in our heads. Well, maybe not weird knowledge to us unless you’re a sports geek and their trivia knowledge is even more specialised. Things that a non-geek can also demonstrate but not necessarily altogether. At least being SF geeks also means we do also have an appreciation and usually some sort of scientific background and most of us fall easily into and grasp computer-tech. Anything else is talent from other quarters, whether it is artistic, written or the ability to catalogue, meaning we can be very organised. Some of it can be learnt but whether it comes with the enthusiastic spark that is commonly called talent is still very much individual. Then it comes down to how much effort you want to put into it and develop any nascent talent.

Can we train people to become geeks? It isn’t like anyone’s had a good reputation in training politicians and geeks are at the other end of the scale. For many of us, being geek is innate. We might have had extended periods of isolation by sickness but not all turn geek, just a tolerance for being alone and keeping ourselves busy. If anything, it is our imaginations that ensure we don’t become idle. We just do what comes naturally.

Of course, things like the Internet has changed that and there is no proof yet that it is destroying the geek aspect in the young, just delaying it coming out. Per unit population, the number of SF geeks is actually quite small. When you consider the number of SF films coming out today, there has to be some fixation that will stick with some people beyond waiting for the next film. Geeks won’t wait but seek out SF films and add to their knowledge. Back when I was young, that also applied to SF books as well. A lot fewer books back then and certainly less series. The potential casualty is reading books but I think as we older generation demonstrate reading skills that gives extended knowledge that they won’t rely on soundbytes on-line. It’s unlikely to be a passing phase but stays with us a lifetime.

We’re also hoarders first and then grow into collecting to fill the gaps in our knowledge. We don’t really start off as collectors, just a reluctance to not throw anything away. Cataloguing a collection is a matter of course. It helps to avoid too much duplicating and point out things that you want and if you have duplicates, something to negotiate or trade with. No sense replying entirely on your memory when you don’t have to. When it comes to collecting, searching is one thing, serendipity helps as well, showing a level of luck in finding anything and getting at a good price. Paying over the odds or not knowing the rarity tends to show a lack of knowledge. It might take time to do it correctly but also fun looking over what you’ve got. Having your collection noted in a card index or at least one in a small binder gives it some transportability so you don’t rely on memory. A lot easier to do than fumble over a computerised pad that has more worth stolen than its data. It might also pay to photograph expensive items if you’ve included them in your insurance. Saying that, if you have things like original art, you might well have to insure it separately, assuming they will accept it. People who have seen my collections tend to see it as an Aladdin’s cave although I doubt if many would seek to have a similar variety.

It should go without saying that you know something of the history of your own collection, even if its at point of buying an unsuspected gem. Of my ‘Uncanny X-Men’ original pages and long before they became the costly items they are today, a dealer was selling, amongst others, one cheap page 11 from # 99 (I think I said # 96 before in a review and then checked the page as I wrote this) because it didn’t have any of the mutant team in it. I dutifully nodded but still bought and then pointed out that it was the first time that Professor X’s school address had been given in print. Even without that, it’s still a good piece of art and also the first appearance of Black Jack Cassidy, albeit in silhouette in the last few panels. Even more oddly, the dealer still wasn’t interested. It’s just words, isn’t it? For the geek, knowledge is power, don’t get taken in purely by the obvious when you’re buying. There will always be the piece that got away, he says thinking of the page from Uncanny X-Men # 107 being better than the page from # 102 of Jean Grey as Phoenix flying out of the Hudson River and a shame I couldn’t have afforded both and this was long before the price hikes of late.

It isn’t so much about bragging but geek talks will always raise particular items in your collections just to encourage others to speak of their prize gems. Hardly surprising some of us become seasoned raconteurs. It is rarely about the size of the collection any more but something interesting you’ve got in it. In fact, collections sizes over so many years can grow whether you want it to or not. Notice I said that in plural as my working collections extend from comics to books to trading cards to CDs and DVDs. Not everything has a story but easy to pick out the items that does. Knowledge is power. Buying things when they first came out shows foresight and when your geekiness started. Buying early items that you can afford shows you have a sense of history.

Contrary to what outsiders might think, many geeks have a scientific awareness to things like global warming. It helps to determine good and bad Science Fiction. We might be collectors but often it is seen as the means to preserve our culture and we certainly aren’t part of the throwaway culture that also exists. As such, there is a tendency to be ahead of our members of our society before they catch on and, even then, its more like a passing interest. Get into conversation with someone wearing a media tee-shirt and see how much they know about the subject or presenting a fact they didn’t know. I saw some Marvel Comics based wallpaper a few years back and I was ticking off which issues I owned far more than study the art. That’s the geeky edge. I’m less sure if I would want it stuck on my wall though. Too much of a distraction. We know out subject or subjects as our range extends.

Pick a genre subject and, chances are, I can tell you something about it, mostly because I’ve researched so much over the years. I doubt if even us geeks can be expert in every aspect of our hobbies anymore, simply because there is so much. We do tend to know more about the history than that much of its value, mostly, I suspect, because we buy for keeps unless circumstances change. You know, things like marriage and a disinterested spouse who thinks it takes up room.

I should point out that there are geeks of both sexes, but the males tend to be disproportionately more. I hope that doesn’t mean the ladies are just healthier. We also pick up a lot of other trivia knowledge along the way, although I don’t go excessively in identifying every last capitol city or flag. I think there is a level where even we see knowledge being a bit too excessive or useless outside of a quiz. I’m more inclined to think its applied knowledge than knowledge for its own sake. A lot of the information hails from childhood and then just gets re-enforced over the years.

Those of us who become writers on the subject are just exploiting the natural talent. In my other life, I frequently getting letters in UK’s national paper, the Daily Mirror, but that’s more me addressing misinformation or making observations. Still an aspect of applied geekiness. I was once told, as an editor, I can put whatever I write in print, so showing I have something to say but edited by someone else dispels that theory. Being a letter hack, I have a history of getting letters in all manner of publications over the years which are clearly not under my control. Let’s not even explore my abilities as a copy editor and keeping the rules of grammar in my head. If you have talents with being geeky, it’s a bonus but you need to find out what they are. Chances are, they will be enhanced by it.

Although I have focused on the creative aspects of being a geek, there are a multitude of other talents associated with us, so if you have something in that line, which can be from anything from administrator (read that as editing) to dealing with ecological issues, apply the geek aspect and look for better solutions than the standard norm. After all, our ‘normal’ looks for better solutions not repeating things that aren’t effective.

Notice, I’ve kept away from us not all being sociable as that can vary a lot. There is a limit to extremes in geekiness and much of that depends on upbringing and locality. Being regarded as the odd one out in the classroom does tend to stick. We aren’t always good at sports and being oddly smart creates its own separation. Whether that affects our egos or not is also debatable, mostly a trait that affects our group in society who doesn’t want to be low in the social order. I tend to work out from not having anything to prove but have to tolerate the envy that I can turn my hand to most things, although even I have limitations. I still haven’t figured out how people can balance on a bicycle. Geeks have come of age and if you want to know what’s in or not in SF, then I suspect that does give us some level of knowledge as to what is good and bad.

Does any or all of the above apply to you? Are there gaps that you want to fill in? I should point out some talents can be developed by practice. You might not get better than being technically good but still ahead of many of the population.

Can being a geek be faked or even appear higher than your normal level. In some respects, yes. Any collection is likely to have some nuggets in them. The one area that is hardest comes to talent but that applies to anyone. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Art and writing can be learnt. Just set yourself targets to achieve within them. Understanding the art of research is a lot harder, more so as its not something you learn at school. Grasping the basics of any subject means you can focus on the aspects you need to really know about. I tend to find asking the right questions and looking for the answers before making a decision about anything.

Some non-geeks tend to have opinions first and then get unstuck when it doesn’t match with the facts. It might make us geeks look like know-it-alls but we at least do it the right way round and make sense of the knowledge first. We tend to look sensible to ourselves and getting it right does tend to put us at odds with the non-geek. Let’s not talk envy. It’s better to walk away than mix with such people as they have different aims in life. Either that or over the years, we read people enough not to antagonise too much. After all, we’re fast learners. It’s geek territory.

If you want to do something for the environment, then press for the use of thorium nuclear reactors. Low yield radiation, no bad end products and last for years. At least until someone can invent plastic that doesn’t last forever. Did I say we’re also inventive types?

Thank you, take care, good night and have I hit anything in your own backgrounds out there?

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Thought never kills anyone.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Whatever it is from above, I wish I could sell it in bottles.

The Reveal: Without event days, like Halloween, the Internet would have less features for their pages. Incidentally, outside of Easter’s main resurrection, why hasn’t there been any horror films based around it. I mean, that Easter bunny and whatever is laying those deadly chocolate eggs has to be up to no good.

Computer Observation: If your current computer only has 4gB of RAM, you’re going to need to add more RAM to run Windows 11. If your computer only has 2 CPUs, then change when it finally breaks down. Welcome to the new spec. Don’t forget, I did say years ago that 4gB RAM was not enough. If you’re going to keep many pieces of software in RAM all the time, you need more manoeuvring room for it to do things. If you can afford to future proof, just in case Windows 12 is out in less than 5 years, go for at least 12 or 16gB RAM with your next computer and especially if you leave so much software on-line all the time.

 Observation: Nothing about COP25. Depends what comes out of it really before I voice criticism. I will make one valid observation: If mankind can mostly stand together to tackle covid which has killed so many, you would think saving the world so we have somewhere to live should be a foregone conclusion.

 Observation: Going back to the ‘Aliens’ film, the xenomorphs made no distinction for age or size as to who they presented to their egg facehuggers for insemination. For the adults, the embryo could be hid in the body cavity, but you would think with the children it would have been easier to spot who had the inflated stomachs.

 Feeling Stressed: It’s only another winter covid. If you can survive one in a mask, another one is a cinch and, for our British readers, that’s nothing to do with buying cars. Happy thoughts make odd connections.


Category: Culture, Offworld Report

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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