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Sep 27 2007   3:38PM GMT

Do geeks rule the world (or are we slaves to the marketing machine)?

2020viip Profile: 2020viip

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It’s a banner week for geeks, at least for geek-themed pop culture. Between the release of Halo 3 on Tuesday and all the geek-friendly TV shows premiering all week long, I wonder how many people are able to concentrate on work.

My work week has been consumed with two activities: editing a screencast for SearchNetworking.com and launching this blog. Screencasts and blogs… two media forms that didn’t even exist just a few years ago, but have already become pretty mainstream. Even sportscasters these days are routinely rallying viewers to “check out the blog!”

Monday, Wired ran a story about the TV mainstreaming of geek chic phenomenon. I watched NBC’s Chuck this week (it’s the story of a retail tech support dude who unwittingly learns encrypted government secrets through an email attachment). Frankly, the show was entertaining, but less a celebration of the geek life and more a mainstream action/spy story with an underdog hero and some geek-friendly eye candy sprinkled on top — a Tron poster here, a Matrix-looking set there, a Zork reference in the first five minutes.

Still, tech and techhie references abound. Have geeks taken over the world?

Actually, I have this theory about marketers and geeks. There’s some kind of triggering mechanism in the modern psyche trained to tweak out at the mention of key concepts, the way mine does when I hear “Time Lord” or the first few measures of a Black Sabbath song. Like Pavlov’s dog, you start to salivate; you can’t think straight from the excitement. It’s that thing! That thing I like! That thing is me! I must own it! Your elven sword glows blue. Your processor crashes. And you open your wallet.

If you think about it, everybody has their trigger, whether it’s “shoe sale” or “baby back ribs.” But for geeks, I think there’s an especially mouth-watering hook that marketers can dangle out there because the geek concepts are mainly man-made technology items and pop-culture references… and there are so many diverse, yet specialized triggers (“wireless-G router,” “TIE fighter,” “20-sided die.”)… Stuff that can be sold. And geeks are buying.

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