Speak Out with your Geek Out: Feedback

So the first Speak Out with your Geek Out has drawn to a close, and overall I think it was a great event.  It was certainly a nice change to speak in an unashamedly positive way about my hobby, as well as reading the posts from everyone else.  I had hopes that this might do well enough to become a regular event, and it seems the event creator, Monica Valentinelli, agrees.  To that end she has asked for feedback, and I thought it appropriate to answer her feedback questions here.  If you wish to provide your own feedback, I encourage you to post it in the comments section of her post (as well as below if the spirit moves you).

Question One:  Do you feel Speak Out was a positive experience? Why or why not?

I think the event was a much needed positive experience.  Too often, especially on the internet, geeks can get so mired in the latest arguments about the state of geekdom, they lose sight of the geeky things they love.  Face it, none of us got into our hobbies just to fight and argue all the time.  We became geeks because we found something we loved doing, something that gave us a spark.  I think this event reminded us to pay more attention to that spark and celebrate it as much as we can.

Question Two:  Would you like this to be an annual event?

Ideally, I’d love it to just be the status quo.  Failing that, yes, I think Speak Out with your Geek Out should be an annual event celebrating our collective geekdom.

Question Three:  Did you understand participation was voluntary? That there was a reason why “geek” was never defined?

I did understand that participation was voluntary; how could it be any other way?  And I’m glad there was no attempt to define “geek” for this event.  I think that any attempt to do so would have led to the sort of divisiveness the event was trying to avoid; as it was, there were still a few people that tried to steer the conversation in that direction.

For myself, I don’t think geekdom needs definition.  I know people just as excited about Lego, tropical fish or model trains as I am about role-playing games.  Their enthusiasm earns them the title of geek every bit as much as mine does.  Personally, I think the “what is geeky” question overlays a motive of determining the geek status of the questioner.  After all, you can’t determine who is geekier until you define terms, right?

Question Four: Is there anything that can be done differently for next year?

There may be one or two things to tweak, there always are.  But I can’t think of any off the top of my head.  I did want to say a big thank-you to the organizers and volunteers who took the time to support the event with their time and creations.  It is that kind of community feeling that makes geekdom so appealing to me.  I’ll also take this opportunity to volunteer for next year; if there is anything I can do to help, just let me know!

Question Five:  If your answer to (4) was yes, how would you feel about a Kickstarter to help fund those goals?

I’m not opposed to a Kickstarter, if there is a legitimate need for it to help the project grow.  All I can say at this point is, when it is proposed I’ll look at it and donate if I can.

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If you were following the blog last week, you may be wondering where my Day 4 and 5 posts went.  I’m wondering the same thing.  They gave every indication of being successfully posted, but didn’t show up in my blog listing.  Once I sort that out and hopefully recover those posts, I’ll put them up on the site to read.  For now though, onward!

Comments?  Below.

Speak Out with your Geek Out: Day One – Web Comics

As part of the Speak Out with your Geek Out project started by Monica Valentinelli on her blog, all of my posts this week will highlight some aspect of geekery that I love. So join me in taking a little break from the anger and angst, and let’s remind ourselves why we love geek culture.

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Growing up, the comics page and Saturday comic insert were my favourite parts of the newspaper.  Until I got much older, I didn’t understand why they even bothered to print the rest of the paper ( a feeling I still carry, actually). The comics page, featuring the antics of Peanuts (“Curse you, Red Baron!”), The Far Side (“Bummer of a birth mark, Hal.”) and Bloom County (“Oop! Ack!!”) was obviously the star of the newspaper. But hey, I was a kid, what did I know?

Fast forward to 1999, and I’m just starting to spend a decent amount of time on the internet. Punching in whatever page search strikes my fancy, as was my wont in those days, I come across a link for something called pvponline.com…and that was my first step into the wide beautiful world of web comics.

Of course, after that first step I will admit I wallowed like a pig in muck for a great long while. I went through my early addictive phase, where every web comic was a little gem to add to my growing dragon’s hoard. I didn’t care about things like art quality or story in those days, I just knew I needed to read more, more, more! Eventually, realization that I only had so much time in a day to spend reading web comics led me to develop a more discerning palette, and the razing of my bookmark list.

Nowadays my decision to follow a particular web comic is dependant on three things: 1) does the subject interest me?, 2) is the art good? and 3) is the writing/story good? I don’t need all three of those to be a resounding yes; I can read a comic about gamers that has good writing and only okay art, for instance. But if the answer to the any of those questions is a no, that comic will never make it to my bookmarks folder. You may think that would limit my reading somewhat, but as of this post I have 56 links in my Web Comics folder, plus another 6-8 under review at any moment.

So why do I love web comics so much? First, the web is the only place I’m going to find comic strips with subjects and settings that I enjoy. What print newspaper is going to feature the fantasy gaming misadventures of Order of the Stick, for instance? Or carry the touching story of a pseudo-hipster and his friends, a la Questionable Content? Or even acknowledge the living presence of Something Positive (which I love sooo much!)? Second, besides the enjoyment they bring me (which is prodigious) I see web comics as a sign of a healthy geek culture. Not only are there enough readers for existing properties, but there are enough that new web comics are able to find a stable footing early on. Not to say I think it is easy for new strips, not by any means.  But if the strip creator is willing to put in the work, there are opportunities to grow an audience and make the strip successful. And that is exciting to me.

So if you aren’t already doing so, take some time to explore web comics and find some new ones to read. I can guarantee you will find at least one that will interest you, and often that one will link to others you may fall in love with. To get you started, here are five of my favourites, in no particular order. If you like them or already follow them, take a second to look at their links pages, and check out the web comics they recommend. You may find yourself a hidden gem…

– I have followed the work of Phil and Kaja Foglio since the days of “What’s New with Phil & Dixie” in Dragon Magazine. So falling in love with Girl Genius was practically pre-ordained. If you already follow this comic, revel in your luckiness. If you don’t, you’re welcome.

Weregeek, by Alina Pete, is a perfect example of a fantastically drawn and written comic for/about geeks that would never be syndicated in a print newspaper. Which is fine with me, more geeky goodness for those of us on the web. Also, Alina and her boyfriend Layne are the nicest people ever; if you have a chance to stop by their booth at a convention then do it!

– How could science and computers possibly be funny? xkcd and Randall Munroe answer that question in spades! Also, it is my second favourite stick-figure comic strip, out of…well, two. Note to new web comic artists: no more, OotS and xkcd have it covered.

– A relatively new discovery, Christopher Baldwin’s Spacetrawler is a funny, touching story of humans “drafted” to fight for inter-stellar liberation. You’ll even fall in love with the villains, it’s that kind of comic.

– And finally, d20 Monkey, one of my favourite RPG related strips. Brian Patterson really captures the heart of the gamer community with his strips. And yes, admittedly, that heart has a goodly share of dick jokes. I regret nothing.

That’s all for today, folks! Have a favourite comic of your own to share or a comment on the ones I posted here? Comment below, but please limit yourself to one link per comment, please. And join me tomorrow for the next installment in Speak Out with your Geek Out!