Post Tagged with: "anti-intellectualism"

Who Speaks for Geek Culture?

Who Speaks for Geek Culture?

Yesterday an essay by Wikipedia and Citizendium co-founder Larry Sanger made rounds: Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?

There’s a lot to discuss there, including whether this is actually a particularly new phenomena, how prominent it actually is, whether being anti-college actually constitutes anti-intellectualism (and does thinking that the educational system is badly broken constitute being anti-college?), whether Nicholas Carr is being unreasonable, and whether advocating letting anyone edit a Wikipedia page actually constitutes a hatred of knowledge.

I’ll let others have that conversation for now.

One thing that I noticed reading Sanger’s essay was how few geeks he cites as evidence. Where are the quotes from Hacker News threads from real-life actual geeks? I’m sure you could find some gems in this thread or this one.

Instead, Sanger cites Peter Thiel, Sir Ken Robinson, Don Tapscott and Clay Shirkey. Do these people represent geek culture?

Thiel is a lawyer and venture capitalist. He’s best known as the co-founder of PayPal, but it was Max Levchin and the other co-founders who had the technical background. Robinson is an education researcher. Tapscott is a business consultant with a background in education research. Shirkey has perhaps the most geek cred among them. According to Wikipedia, he wrote technology guides for Ziff Davis before become a professor of new media. But do any of them truly represent geek culture?

Also, who doesn’t speak for geek culture? Apparently, in Sanger’s view Carr does not. Neither does Sanger himself. Apparently Jaron Lanier doesn’t consider himself a geek anymore, despite his background in computer science, and therefore speaks against geek culture instead of as part of it.

I’m not being glib here, and I’m not bringing this up as a counter point to Sanger. Articles and lectures by and interviews with Shirkey, Thiel, etc. tend to be discussed frequently in geek circles (though not always approvingly). Carr and Lanier are discussed as well – my perception, and Sanger’s, is that they have received more negative attention in the geekosphere than positive attention. But is that a correct assessment?

Who counts as a geek and who doesn’t?

Of course, Sanger only asks whether there is a strain of geek culture that is anti-intellectual, not whether the whole culture is anti-intellectual. Geek culture is not coherent. There are many right-wing libertarian geeks, and there are many socialist geeks as well. Some geeks are ruthless entrepreneurs (especially these days with the bubble in full swing). Some are more interested in free culture than making money. What, then, is the politics of geek culture? What do geeks have in common?

Does it even matter who speaks for geek culture?

June 8, 2011 0 comments
Conservative media take a strong stand against … learning?!?

Conservative media take a strong stand against … learning?!?

This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the right’s usual stances on education:

If there is anybody out there who still doesn’t believe that the conservative media will attack President Obama no matter what he does, consider this: Right-wingers are telling children to skip school as a protest against Obama’s encouragement of students to stay in school. [...]

There’s nothing you can imagine that is too crazy for these people to say. They’ll claim Barack Obama was secretly born in Kenya (his birth announcements in Hawaiian newspapers were just one part of an elaborate, decades-long conspiracy involving Kenyans, the media, Hawaii’s Republican governor, and the Stonecutters). They’ll say he has a diabolical plan to create government “death panels” to kill off the old and the young. They’ll claim he is building a secret private army (consisting of — I swear I am not making this up — AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers) that is “just as strong” as the U.S. military so that he can “seize power” and create a “thugocracy.” [...]

So Glenn Beck and his fellow tinfoil hat-wearers sprang into action. Beck went off on his “indoctrination” rant, warning of secret private armies (no, he isn’t worried about Blackwater — it’s the thought of English majors signing up to help teach people how to read that keeps him up at night).

Media Matters: Conservative media take a strong stand against … learning?!?

(via Atom Jack)

BTW, Glenn Beck was never really on my radar until recently, but his utter madness keeps coming up lately. Was he always this crazy, or did he recently snap or something?

September 4, 2009 1 comment
Bill Maher: New Rule: Smart President ? Smart Country

Bill Maher: New Rule: Smart President ? Smart Country

And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Huffington Post: New Rule: Smart President ? Smart Country

I mostly agree with this, except for this line:

“There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens.”

Yes and no. Yes, we should be angry at our fellow citizens. But there are entrenched powers with a vented interest in keeping the country dumb. Not that that’s any excuse.

August 10, 2009 4 comments