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Oxford — May 2011

The world is full of geeks!

On Friday Camilla and I went to dinner with Madeleine, a colleague of Camilla's who lives just a few streets away, and her household and their friends. The original idea was to play the boardgame Settlers of Catan (an old favourite I haven't played for ages (Hi! to Anna and David if you read this)), but we ended up just eating (an excellent barbecue, prepared by an Australian who probably fits the British stereotypes of Australians better than we do) and talking. It was a pretty geeky group, made up of bioinformaticians, statisticians, biochemists etc with one school teacher. (At one point someone even suggested a "geek continuum", running from Katie Price (who I'd never heard of) at 0 to Richard Stallman at 10.)

On Saturday I went to the Gardener's Arms, a vegetarian pub in north Jericho, to celebrate Sophia's birthday. This was almost as geeky, with the six of us including a physicist, an engineer turned visual-system researcher, and a biochemist, as well as two historians. Rather than being linked through work, this group was (apart from me!) made up of members of OUSFG (the science fiction society) and/or TS (the Tolkien society).

Some of the conversation topics repeated themselves across the two dinners: the relative merits of OS X and Linux at one and an unopposed paean for Linux at the other (and not from me). People in both groups had written novels, and NaNoWriMo was mentioned. And the involved politics of societies was a parallel to workplace politics.

A few books got a mention (Lord of the Rings on both occasions) but television seems to loom much larger even in geekdom. This always leaves me a little bit lost, since I haven't seen most of the shows involved.

A third geek network I have occasional contact with formed around a now defunct OxLUG (Oxford Linux Users Group) and still meets for lunches on Fridays. The people here actually work in IT and are arguably more "techie" than "geeky".

The gamelan group, in contrast, is distinctly non-geeky. Even a Kindle was looked on a little suspiciously. And no one had got around to building a web site until I did it. (If Richard Stallman ever turns up in Oxford on a Wednesday and I bring him along to a rehearsal, I doubt any of them will know who he is.)

1 Comment »

  1. What do you call it when geeks getting together? Is it a gaggle of geeks, a nest of geeks ( apologies to the geckos) ? A seance of geeks perhaps, because they tend to work themselves to a trance-like state in their fields. How about a geekery?

    Just when I think those who play the manufactured, professional Australians, some quite successfully for a living,just ask Paul Hogan, Barry Crocker, or Rolfe Harris, are vanishing or aging ; there are still fair dinkum, feral Aussies about to brighten up any BBQ .

    Comment by DL — May 2011

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