Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Channeling My Inner Geek
Once again, I'm stepping into the fray to teach first-year students in my seminar Cyberspace: History, Culture, and Future. I get my share of geeks in the course, which is wonderful fun. Today I worked on an "about me" disclosure for the syllabus. It will be a romp, with Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and the Second Life House of Usher simulation as a final exam project.
Setting the tone is everything for such a class, from scaring off lazy-bones who won't want to exert themselves and luring in my fellow geeks. I think my description, that follows, does pretty well. I only forget to add that "Han shot first" to solidify my geek cred.
I'm a Richmonder by birth and a lifelong geek, free-lance writer, hobby farmer, model-builder, and non-computer gamer (board games and role-playing games). I lived in Spain after college and have traveled a good deal overseas, especially in the U.K. In Spain I was attacked by a pack of wild dogs while reading James Joyce. Knowledge of Jack London's Call of the Wild saved my life, whereas Joyce provided no help at all. I now advocate that everyone read a lot.
In terms of my tastes in futurism, it's either dark stuff like Cyberpunk and post-apocalypse or, on the brighter side, Star Trek (original series) not Star Wars, please, save for Lucas' original films I & II. I'm decent with graphics, basic Web design and HTML coding, and hacking farm and older computer hardware. I fool around with cars, some of them quite fast, and I used to street race until it nearly killed me enough times to make my brain mature.
I listen to a lot of music, often loud and mostly on CDs or vinyl; I also rip tunes from these tactile media and make playlists, though I find ripped music on tiny devices tinny. I'm fond of first-gen Metal, Glam Rock, old-time music, some Americana, traditional country, and electronica by artists like Brian Eno. I don't have time for most TV or pop culture of the present era. I am easily bored but if interested in something, I will recall every detail for years. I cannot code my way out of nested loop. Facebook is for saying respectful things to family and stupid things to my friends. I am not very professional online.
The best student evaluation I ever got read (about a lit course on Invented Worlds) "this class is crazy, but Doctor Essid is just the man for the job."
Though in terms of birth-year I should be a Boomer, I find that generation smug and entitled. I was young enough to think I could ride my bike to Woodstock, and Vietnam was something that adults fretted about (until my older brother got drafted). After seeing America peak in 1969 with the Apollo 11 landing (I'm serious) I watched the slow slide of things, coming of age in the dreadful 70s with other Gen Xers, when everything sucked except Led Zeppelin.
As I grow older and crankier, and though I have published an article about Millennials and online engagement, I find your generation's online habits bizzarre, overly serious, and frightening. Worst of all, I consider most of you addicted to those little boxes in your palms constantly. I have a flip phone and don't text. If I don't know who is calling by voice, I also do not answer.
Stay the hell off my lawn, too.
Unless you have read Jack London when I call the dogs out on you. Hint: find the alpha and challenge.