Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Want To Be The Y-Wing Guy

If there is one thing a nerd loves it is the ravings of another nerd. Check out this from Monday's Steve Ziezer Has Nothing To Say blog.

"[T]he guy flying the Y-Wing, well, he knows what's goin' on. He's the guy you ask where to get a good lunch near the Rebel base. He's gonna know where the best deals on astromech droids are. He is the Man."
I just love that.

Earlier this week a coworker asked me a few questions about buying a motorcycle. Before I knew it I had explained:
  1. What distinguishes a fairing from a windshield
  2. Why sport bikes have higher internal compression ratios
  3. How to tell a regular sport bike from a sport-tourer
...and sketched out a brief history of average engine displacement in the US motorcycle market.

The connection between these two anecdotes is that Steve and I are both nerds. Big nerds. We have too much specialized, arcane or esoteric knowledge to be "normal." Not only is Steve a "Star Wars fan" he has opinions about Y-Wing pilots. I'm not just a motorcyclist; I can name the differences between the 2006 BMW R1150 RT and its 2007 replacement.

It is true, as reported in a recent issue of Wired, that a certain kind of nerdishness has gone mainstream. TV shows like Bones and Numb3rs are even making us (actually, really good looking actors playing us) sexy. We probably have Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to thank for this (if, in fact, we are grateful). Americans admire success almost as much as we love staring at computer monitors. That makes Gates and Jobs unquestioned slam-dunks not just for cultural icon status, but for capitalist sainthood.

It doesn't mater how much Hollywood and Madison Ave. try to embrace who they think we are, we will continue to get weird looks from people when we reveal that we care/know too much about something. Mainstream culture does find excessive knowledge and interest in trivial things suspicious. "Trivial" is socially constructed as anything one does not need to know.

It is fine to have tropical fish and know all of the essential things about their care, feeding and even the filtration system. Know the scientific (binomial nomenclature) name for each species in the tank and you're a weird-o.

That is, unless you are hanging with Steve and I. If we had fish, we would know their Latin names, too.

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