To go alongside our readign Theme of the Month – Geek Chic in Young Adult Ficiton – my wonderful colleague Matt Imrie has put together a post showing just how important Geeks have been and continue to be.
The Importance of Geeks
Hey do you remember the Second World War (aka WW2) – the biggest global conflict this world has ever seen!
Think how truly bad it would have been if it had continued until 1947 or even 1949. This may have been the case if not for one man – Alan Turing a codebreaker at Bletchley Park who broke the German Enigma Codes.
Also known as the father of theoretical computer science and a little thing called Artificial Intelligence – look up the Turing Test – go on you know you want to!
You may have heard of the Internet, a global interconnected network of computers, mainframes and devices that was developed in the 1950’s and ‘60’s as a decentralised communication network in case of atomic war. The version we are used to composed of websites and hyperlinks was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
If he had copyrighted his creation he would be among the richest people in the world but he made the technology available as royalty-free for use by everyone in the world!
Do you use e-mail? Awesome isn’t it?
Invented in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson and quite possibly saved the ‘@‘ symbol from extinction at the same time.
Artificial Intelligence, the World Wide Web and e-mail – three amazing inventions that may not have been possible without the pioneering work of Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace the daughter of mad, bad & dangerous to know Lord Byron.
Her work is recognized as the first writer of computer software for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
Sticking with programming for a moment – you may have heard of Apollo 11 Mission that first put people on the moon.
Margaret Heafield Hamilton was team leader for the engineers that developed the landing software for Moon Lander
…the computer was programmed to do more than recognize error conditions. A complete set of recovery programs was incorporated into the software. The software’s action, in this case, was to eliminate lower priority tasks and re-establish the more important ones … If the computer hadn’t recognized this problem and taken recovery action, I doubt if Apollo 11 would have been the successful moon landing it was.
Other names you may recognize from the pantheon of geekiness:
Nichel Nicols: she sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before she became the first African-American to not portray a servant or slave on television. After Star Trek she worked with NASA to recruit minority & female personnel to the agency.
Bill Gates founder of Microsoft and tie Windows OS
The two Steves – Jobs & Wozniak founder of Apple Computers
Linus Torvalds inventor of the Linux kernel and curmudgeon of note
Marie Curie discovered radium & polonium and was the first double Nobel Laureate
Geeks and the Pop Culture Connection
Geeks have been seen as consumers of pop culture for decades. We do not just consume and infest pop culture – we ARE pop culture!
On television: The IT Crowd, Quantum Leap, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Person of Interest, Firefly Mr Robot, Chuck
In the movies: Army of Darkness, Shaun of the Dead, War Games, The Matrix, Dark city, Office Space.
On the printed page: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Geek Queen Felicia Day, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and even more HERE
Hell our fashion sense has even been co-opted by the mainstream – and you don’t get much more influential than that!
Nerd, Spod, Otaku, Anorak, Boffin