It used to be that we had a group of people who were interested in pop-culture’s expression of a tech future paced by space exploration and colonization. Some called us nerds, others geeks, and within that, some of us were Trekkers (Don’t you dare call us Trekkies!)
All the better to get us off this rock we were polluting. Television shows like Space 1999, and especially Star Trek, gave us a view of a tech-created future. And that view was often translated into real projects and products. (Anyone remember the L5 space station plan? And how about the iPad looking like the one in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyessey?)
That pop-culture expression of space and science exploration and tech development existed cheek-by-jowl with a well-funded space program. NASA was the gold-standard for the creation of space vehicles.
But it seems the Space Shuttle Challenger accident exposed a system that became fat, happy, and careless. Then the conservative political movement killed that, and ushered in a new generation of people who didn’t seems to care about space or the betterment of humankind, just lower taxes.
We stopped being “futurists” – looking to the future. We stopped thinking about things like cities of the future. Take a look at what happened to Walt Disney’s dream of an Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow (EPCOT).
After Walt’s death, the EPCOT dream of a real city of the future I could live in was turned into a plan for a new amusement park and because those without vision, yet running Disney, got scared by the Energy Crisis of the 70s, and chickened out. And in the process, they ruined the very idea that made me interested in City Planning as a profession.
But I digress.
Consider that when I was growing up, there was always an Apollo space launch planned. We went to the Moon, and back, and again, and there was talk of exploring Mars. Here on Earth, the new materials created for space exploration were re-employed to help make our lives better.
We were always forward thinking, and what was then nerd culture, is now Geek Culture with nerds as a small and undefined subset of the whole. Nerds were geeks, but into science. It seems that Geek Culture grew away from nerd culture, and with the overall dumbing down of society and the search for lower taxes.
How else to explain the current over-commercialized, superhero-a-minute mess we’ve got ourselves into?
Geek Culture is really a myopic view of how an individual can be different in dress – explore a fantasy World like, say, the one Star Wars presents.
Geek Culture today has zero to do with answering the questions that have plagued us for some time. How do we improve our planet? How do we end racism? How do we create new Worlds?
I thought Geek Culture and Nerd Culture were supposed to be one and were supposed to popularize those objectives, get us to Mars and beyond, and make us, well, better people. Instead, it’s all become nothing more than a vehicle for selling movies, TV shows, and weird clothing used for “cosplay.”
A sad turn, indeed.