How would you go about finding the geekiest cities in the UK?
If I was asked that question then here, off the top of my head, is how I might go about it:
You could also look at people’s jobs and qualifications, noting that people who study or work in IT or related fields stand a higher chance of being geeky.
That’s how I’d approach it. That is not how the people behind a survey to reveal Britain’s geekiest cities approached it.
Well, they did take into account “the number of job opportunities in IT careers and the number of people with technology-based qualifications.” But the main consideration seemed to be “the amount of technological purchases per person”. Or in other words: the ones with the most toys win.
Now I am not a social scientist and I’m sure there is much wrong with the approach I’ve suggested. (Although if anyone wants to take it and use it then please! Feel free! You’re welcome.) But I do think it stands a better chance of sniffing out the geeks than this approach.
There is a massive crossover between geeks, and people who buy gadgets. There are also many geeks who would like to make more “technological purchases” but are thwarted by a lack of income. And there are many, many people who belong to either the geek or gadget lover group and not the other.
By this logic, someone who has a compulsive Apple habit, based purely on the fact that they heard iPads are “cool” on the teevee and funded by the boatload of disposable income they made by selling double glazing is inherently more geeky than somebody who works in a comic book store, buys an old laptop and builds themselves a steampunk computer . That can’t be right.
There are two problems here. The first is the lack of definition around the term ‘geek’. What is a geek anyway?
Wikipedia devotes a whole page to this question, noting that “The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning.” My favourite definition from that page, and the one that chimes most closely with how would use the word is, “A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest.”
I’m not sure it gets much more mainstream than buying the latest igadget, TV or DVD player.
My second problem is the idea that what we buy determines who we are. Spending thousands on clothes will never make you chic, buying a shelf load of books won’t do anything for your mind unless you actually read them, and, as I know from bitter personal experience, simply owning a pair of trainers will never make you fit.
Before any of you point it out, let me just say I do realise the survey I am getting so worked up over was a piece of PR fluff on behalf of a company that sells technology.
But I am a geek, and I wear that label with pride. Well, compared to most of my social circle I am very much a baby geek, but it’s a club I enjoy being a member of. (Ok, I won’t lie: I do find LARPing pretty ridiculous, but other than that.)
And even getting to my relatively newbie status required a lot of work. Those episodes of DS9 don’t just watch themselves you know. So I’ll be damned if some smug-faced git gets to steal my geek points just because most of my money goes on things like rent and food. They can call themselves geeks if they really want; they just have to beat me at a game of Carcassonne first.