Category Archives: culture

The G-Word

Previously on Our Multimedia Culture… Gospel X, our intrepid author who claims he is too busy to regularly update the blog, decided to no longer include himself among those who call themselves geeks and nerds. He decided it was more important to focus on the things we like than the labels we use for ourselves. Isn’t that the point?

It’s been two and a half years since I wrote about no longer throwing in with the geeks, nerds and otaku. For the most part, it has been a very smooth road. It was surprisingly easy to navigate this identify, even when trying to put myself way out in the open to draw in others with similar interests. I created a group on Meetup that didn’t necessarily have to do with the labeled cultures, but those most interested all called themselves geeks. The trick was to create a group that appealed to them but didn’t use the label. I chose enthusiasts. It was regarded as a mere idiosyncrasy of mine, and no one asked why I didn’t just call it a geek group. And no one asked why I didn’t identify as such.

Unfortunately, in retrospect, I realize I just inserted one label for another. What’s the difference between enthusiast and geek in this context? Granted, I never said I was an enthusiast, but it doesn’t matter. One word for another.

Another issue is that in the associated keywords I chose included “geek culture”. It’s hard to win sometimes.

It’s also hard to win when you do admit that you no longer use the label and are questioned about it. I’ve learned this very recently thanks to the online communities I frequent. Discussion on the matter leads to being backed into a corner with the implication of your using us and them language. And people aren’t wrong, especially when I say something along the lines, “I don’t want to be associated with geeks because of such-and-such.” It’s a difficult situation to be in and one I need to learn how to navigate better. It’s important to realize that when people self-identify so strongly with an identity that makes them feel like they truly belong, it offends them to hear that you want nothing to do with it based on people they feel are on the fringes of their culture.

Happy Birth- Oh, we can’t say that

Is there any case of copyright more egregious than that of “Happy Birthday to You”? I doubt it.

The purpose of creating art is to share something with the public conscience. Few are lucky enough to have something so well known, so iconic that everyone wants it to be everywhere. Copyright in some cases, like “Happy Birthday to You”, essentially tells people that a business owns a part of the culture. While this makes complete sense in a capitalistic culture, it is a sad reality. Rather than our culture’s being something we share, it’s something that we buy, borrow, and rent.

Amazon provides you a digital copy

If you haven’t checked your Amazon account in a while, you really should make your way there and to their Cloud Player. Every physical album you’ve purchased since 1998 will automatically be uploaded to your personal Amazon Cloud Player, so long as Amazon currently has the digital rights to the albums. This means that you have a free digital copy stored online that you can listen to and download at any time. Great move!

This is honestly something of which I would like to see more. The current climate of physical or digital doesn’t make sense to me. Every item that you purchase physically should automatically grant you access to a digital copy, especially if it is an item that is so easily copied anyway. This would be a great value for consumers, especially those who are collectors. Not to mention the fact that, while digital sales haven’t overtaken physical sales in all mediums, this could help to keep jobs in production factories. Digital-only should remain an option, but I don’t see the point.

Imagine a world in which you still get the tactile pleasure of flipping through pages of the latest novel or comic, popping open your new DVD/Blu-ray or video game, or inserting your latest CD into a player with full knowledge that should anything happen to them they are backed-up. Or that they are accessible to you while not physically in your presence. The future isn’t simply the digital revolution brought through MP3 players, e-readers, and streamed video. The future consists of options and access for media for which you paid.

Verizon to expose copyright trolls

TorrentFreak is celebrating the fact that Verizon is taking on the anonymous bullying of copyright trolls. Supposedly, this is to protect the customers. That’s the spin. While it is nice to imagine a corporation of any sort would stick its neck out to protect its customers, nothing is ever that simple. You see, a customer who is successfully sued by an outside entity will cease to be a customer. They are often sued for thousands to millions of dollars for copyright violations. The average joe, who is always the target of these disputes, cannot afford that. Why would they continue using Verizon service after finding themselves in in debt for that much? A successfully sued customer is no longer a Verizon customer, which means Verizon gets nothing out of the deal.

Clearly, fighting back for the customer is just a way to continue receiving money from the customer. Verizon isn’t riding in on a white horse. It’s just reigning in the money flowing from its current and future customers.

Further Misogyny

I’ve heard great things about the Reddit community, but I always seem to find the worst things when I go there. Today I found someone’s sharing a graphic from 4-Chan about the Feminist Frequency issue. It’s not a fair view of the situation. Some responses have been supportive of the project, but there are so many voices stating the same things: she should get over it, she’s profiting from sympathy, and feminism really wants to tip the scale in the other direction/equality does not mean entitlement. What do you think?


I’ve seen the problem, and it is us

I talk a lot about my hangups regarding fan culture here, even going in depth as to my reasons for not wanting to label myself a geek or nerd anymore. It would be great if I could leave it at that. No one wants to read the incessant rants of cultural nay-sayer or, worse, a nerd shamer. But I can never be done with it so long as there is more fuel to add to the fire. Read the rest of this entry

The Guy Who Likes Stuff

An official geek flag was made of this

I went to a life recording of The Nerdist Podcast in Royal Oak, Michigan the other night, and it was an eye opening experience for me. Not so much because of the stand-up acts and the podcast, which were incredibly funny, but because of the realization of who I was among the sea of strangers who were cosplaying as well as tweeting whatever they could to read it on the big screen before the show started. (It was a great interactive measure, actually. They projected the results of a live reader that finds any tweet with the Nerdist hashtag. The problem is that not everyone who thinks he is a comedian is actually funny… In fact, most aren’t.)

This isn’t a new realization but rather a deeper realization following my final 2010 post about Patton Oswalt’s defense of geek media from mainstream consumption. Back then I denounced the status of the labeled enthusiast. I was ready to move forward on the same path I had already been walking, sans the luggage of status-seeking. It hasn’t been the easiest path. It gets really hard when married to an Astronomy PhD grad student who surrounds you with people who constantly use the labels and think it’s cool to do so. More power to them, but then I get looks when they make a graph to plot everyone’s level of geekery and I lack enthusiasm about it. When the graph includes an area for “fake geeks”, how can I give them them a thumb up? They’re what I’ve been considering wrong about the labeled culture. Read the rest of this entry

Avengers Academy #26’s Letter Column

By now it is very clear to me that I have a favorite writer at Marvel Comics – Peter David. His work on X-Factor has been absolutely amazing. Not only has he really explored the character of Jamie “Multiple Man” Madrox, but he brutally brought up and answered the question of what would happen if one of Madrox’ dupes were to impregnate someone. He was willing to go somewhere no one else would have and concluded it beautifully. The baby was essentially a duplicate, and Madrox immediately absorbed it like any other dupe. This was within a hour of the kid’s birth. No one else does that.

David has also outed a couple of the members of X-Factor Investigations. Shatterstar and Rictor have been revealed to be lovers, but their simply being gay is not the whole story. What is being explored is the relationship of one man who recently realized that he prefers only men after several years of believing himself to be bi (Rictor) and another man who is not only openly bisexual but also seems to push in the direction of polyamory (Shatterstar). This is a layered relationship that unfortunately gets glossed over as just a frou-frou gay couple in superhero comics. Never mind how mindfully it is written.

From Avengers Academy #23

A year or so following this reveal, the revelation that two of the teens in the Avengers Academy book are not straight was not very shocking. In fact, it was quite mindfully done itself. Striker, a guy who repeatedly threw himself at women for 22 issues, opened up to Lightspeed, a girl still trying to figure out her sexual identity, it really meant quite a bit. It added depth to Striker and really laid out who his character was from the beginning. Meanwhile, Lightspeed is also being approached realistically, in that she knows how she feels and really would prefer to not be forced into choosing anything. She likes people, not genders. Read the rest of this entry

No ‘Facebook fatigue’ for longtime users | Reuters

No ‘Facebook fatigue’ for longtime users | Reuters.

“This examination of people’s activities in a very new realm affirms one of the oldest truths about the value of friendship,” said Lee Rainie, head of Pew’s Internet project. “Those who are socially active have a better shot at getting the help and emotional help they need.”

They need emotional help? I don’t like the way this article was written. That implies to me that the users of Facebook are turning to the site instead of going to therapy. To be completely honest, your friends on Facebook are most likely to be emotional enablers, supporting most of your choices no matter how stupid they are. If they didn’t do that, it takes only a few clicks to unfriend someone.

The article means emotional support, which does not make it better. There’s nothing socially active about Facebook, or any social network in general – I explored that a while ago. This is all about providing your network with your best face and in return getting the best response. There’s no dislike button on Facebook for a reason, and, like I said already, those who are disagreeable are easily silenced. Facebook is all about positive feedback.

And the reason longtime users experience no fatigue or, in other words, have no desire to leave the network is because it’s difficult to go from positive feedback all the time to having nothing but your own means. I’m certain there’s a bit of withdrawal involved. Yes, I believe that social networks can cause addiction; I believe that Facebook is worth billions because of addicts.

Porn hackers hit ‘Sesame Street’ YouTube page –

Porn hackers hit ‘Sesame Street’ YouTube page –

I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m overall fine with the hacking of accounts of big corporations, even if the hackers have no other motive than a few laughs. Hack Apple and Sony all you want. But leave any and all aspects of Sesame Street alone! There is no reason to go out of your way to potentially expose children to pornography, and there is no reason to dirty the name of a brand whose purpose is education. Furthermore, they’ve always done a good job of being both entertaining and informative. They have definitely made mistakes along the way, like Cookie Monster’s saying that cookies are a sometimes food and Oscar the Grouch’s living near recycling bins, but those errors are on the side of positive messages. Hacking Sesame Street is basically akin to saying, “Hey, I’m an absolutely horrible person.” Yes, you are.