Wired’s Geekster Handbook

I just came across Wired Magazine’s Geekster Handbook (Subtitled  a Field Guide to the Nerd Underground) from 2008.  The post is more of a list than a handbook, the descriptions are offensively myopic stereotypes, and the whole thing describes caricatures of various geek subgroups, in spite of the use of the label nerd in the subtitle.  In spite of all that, the descriptions are pretty funny, and the illustration is entertaining.  I especially love the look the hacker is giving to the otaku girl.  I can’t tell whether it is a leer or a sneer.  An example from the list:

5. The Hacker
Disposition: Chronically crabby — then again, having such a superior intellect is a heavy burden. Paranoid tendencies.
Beliefs: One shall stand, one shall fall. Sun allergy is a real condition. Cybersex: not utterly disgusting. Cory Doctorow is too soft on DRM. 2600 magazine has gotten too commercial.
Turn-Ons: Trinity. l33t fluency. Narc-spotting at DefCon.

I’m not entirely sure whether this should be offensive or funny.  We live in an age where even a geek or nerd is supposed to be able to live free from ridicule.  So what if the otaku loves Japanese comics?  Some women obsessively love shoes.  Which passion is more stupid?  So what if the hacker loves computers?  Some men are so passionate about sports that they aren’t able to talk about, watch, or think about anything else (YouTube).  Which passion is more stupid?  If shoe lovers and sports fanatics deserve a life free from ridicule and scorn, don’t hackers, otaku, gadget geeks, fanboys, music geeks, and gamers?  Just to be up front, I thought that the post was humorous in spite of what it means.  But being funny doesn’t make it right.  [I didn’t actually intend this to be a rant.  Oh well – rant served.]


Image Credit: Photo in the Wired post attributed to James Chiang


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