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09 December 2014 @ 06:58 am
Cool nerd, a dangerous oxymoron  
Interesting thoughts on nerd culture. Scott Alexander, who linked to it, complains about "the giant blocks of pictures inserted at random points throughout the web page." I think I find that less oppressive than not making the viewers go more than two paragraphs without a picture.
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!fengi on December 9th, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC)
Nerds need to stop acting like that amorphous pop term is an ethnic identity and stop hijacking phrases like "The effects of gentrification on minority and outsider communities" to pretend white privileged libertarian selfishness is a tribal culture. If they are going to pretend this imaginary tribe owns science and engineering, then nerd needs to be burned to the ground.
Marionweofodthignen on December 9th, 2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
But people do do that. Like all the people who act as if "Boomer", "Gen X", and "Greatest Generation" are a tribe. There were large parts of that I couldn't follow - and the sudden eruption of large images didn't help, yes - I kept wanting to ask for a diagram. I'm not at all sure why this person classes Nerd Girls with the popular conventional people, but whatever. People do choose their tribes, the rise of that as a recognized option is indeed one of the advances we've made, and hacker culture is indeed a thing. I don't believe I'm in agreement with much that was said - "tribes" overlap, there are shades and degrees of membership, and ultimately I put a lot more stock in allowance for individuality than I do in any form of group adherence. But I don't believe the author is talking about just whites, and a large part of what I do understand is about meritocracy, not unearned privilege. So I don't see in it what you do.

Greetings Fellow Comstoks!fengi on December 10th, 2014 12:19 am (UTC)
"Boomer" and "Gen X" aren't embraced as tribes, but as categories with the pretense that people within a very broad range of birthdays share a common set of references and sensibilities.

The essay is a response to an article criticizing Nate Silver hiring only white males that pointed out nerds think they can't be racist/sexist/unfair because they consider themselves an oppressed minority, except they aren't.

Hacking is a shared interest subculture in which the primary culture still applies - white and/or male participants are still accountable for their privileged behavior. The author pretends "weird nerds" are like an ethnic tribe, religion, nationality, class or group threatend by oppression from those who criticize them. The biggest tell is this part:
The voices clamouring for change offer us no money, a social role reversal back to “disempowered outsider,” and a status demotion to “likely sexual predator.” (The polite euphemism for this is “creepy,” a pejorative applied indiscriminately both to those who actively transgress other people’s boundaries and to those with the unmitigated gall to be attracted to someone else while being funny-looking.)
The idea being asked not to creep on people (i.e. women) makes them a “disempowered outsider,” is as bogus as the claim people (i.e. women) are only bothered by sexual attraction if the person isn't good looking. No matter what terms are misused, nerds aren't being oppressed by the popular kids when people point out the sexism and racism in tech companies.
Marionweofodthignen on December 10th, 2014 02:26 am (UTC)
Ah, I see - told you I felt like requesting a diagram. I did find the bit about "creeping" kind of out of left field, especially since the author is, from the picture at the end, a woman.
Arlie Stephensertla on December 10th, 2014 06:06 pm (UTC)
Threats of violence?!

I'm afraid that last sentence rather vitiates your argument, making it read as "I don't like X, and if they don't shut up they deserve to be shut up by force."
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!fengi on December 10th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
Ha ha. One has misread or is playing dumb to troll.

It says the word itself - i.e. "that amorphous pop term" - needs to be burned to the ground. A pretty obvious and pedestrian metaphor.

To read that as a threat means one doesn't understand figures of speech, or one lives in a Sesame street world were letters walk around like people.

Edited at 2014-12-10 07:22 pm (UTC)
Arlie Stephensertla on December 10th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh my, this author can't communicate well. IMNSHO, if you aren't a hacker (zir sense), you won't be able to comprehend what values are at stake, because zie never says. And if you are a hacker, you'll probably be annoyed by the pictures.

Maybe some hacker who's also skilled in communicating with non-hackers will take the core ideas from this and translate them into something effective. That would also be shorter (by a lot; most non-nerds/non-Aspies would tl;dr this essay). And the emotional tone would be a lot different, though I haven't got sufficient communication-with-neurotypical skills to say exactly how. Leaving out the dog whistle words would help too -)

I can mostly understand the point(s), because I was there too. At the same time - I continue to demand accommodation of people-like-me among hackers and non-hackers alike. And this reads like someone who's still thinking things through, and still blinded somewhat by their own emotions and knee jerks, unable to quite see the point(s) they are groping towards.
et in Arcadia egoboo: Sacred Chaoapostle_of_eris on December 11th, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
Thank you for being the one to bring this to my attention. It's gorgeous.
I have a distinctive view of these issues. One of my personal archetypal experiences was the Great Minicon Meltdown of some years ago. I had already been using the word "colonized" 20-ish years ago for what had been happening to Minicon's social space. So I have a somewhat different view of what's principled and really is an issue versus what's social or neurotic.
It never occurred to me to use the model of "gentrification", but it's delicious. Why is the onus on the outsiders who built our own spaces to understand the insider-newcomers, and not the other way around, particularly when the insiders are the ones colonising us? indeed. Uncomprehending trendy gibberish like "stop hijacking phrases like "The effects of gentrification on minority and outsider communities" to pretend white privileged libertarian selfishness is a tribal culture" is like seeing a Starbucks open where the cool, weird, unsavory junk shop used to be. (Shakes head and mumbles about the "privilege" of being a social leper.)