The Rise of Geekdom

Amongst all the recent discussion of this past weekend’s Super Bowl, my husband and I found ourselves remarking on the following: 1. we don’t care about the Super Bowl, and 2. we don’t care about football in general. And then this comic showed up in one of my feeds:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2512
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

This made me think more about geekdom: as technology has become more obviously important in our daily lives, being a nerd has become an acceptable kind of cool. But instead of encouraging a society of equality, the unenlightened oppressed geeks have become “Revenge of the Nerds.”

Freire writes in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, ‘almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to be come oppressors, or “sub-oppressors.”‘ This psychological truth is applicable in so many situations, including in this rise of geekdom. Where it was previously uncool to be a nerd, now can be a power to be lorded over the heads of those who are not as technology-capable. This may seem like a very superficial comparison to violent situations in other countries, but perceived status can have important effects on the lives of few.

How can we act as co-investigators as we explore new technological possibilities? Can human-computer interaction research and user-centred design mitigate our potential for cementing a technological divide?