Today is the World Anthropology Day, according to the American Anthropological Association (aka AAA). What better way to celebrate it than exploring the art of geek observation? Anthropologists observe what people do, why they do it, how they do it, and even when they do it. To explore a culture is to explore humanity. But can only anthropologists engage in the art of observation? Can we, as observed beings, also become the ones who observe?
Usually, the ones observing what’s going on are anthropologists. They watch, interact and take part into the object of study. But can we, as geeks, do the same? We have the idea that Anthropologists are either “Indiana Jones” or like dull academic creatures. However, we, geeks, can be anthropologists too.
We have this idea that only those who have permission can do certain activities. Academics who have an anthropological degree have the know-how to study aspects of geek culture. Think about the economics of geeky conventions, or the usage of memes in online converstaions in the game community. However, I rebel. I argue that geeks like ourselves can engage in ethnographic endeavors, and highly sophisticated studies about ourselves! True, we have to be careful about getting too involved and we need to be detached somehow to make it correctly. But tell me, aren’t anthropologists studying geek culture a little bit of geeks themselves?
It’s hard not to be biased, but it’s also an error to leave geeks completely out as mere observed. Sure, we won’t use all academic terms to explain ourselves. But, we can surely do so in a very approachable way.
With this, I’m not stating that out-of-academia studies are better, nor that academic studies are worse, or the other way around. I’m just opening the door to geeks to explore their culture and engage in geek observation. Simply put: geek anthropology lives in and out academia.
So, if you’re curious, and want to explore your Geek Culture beyond the surface, consider doing it from an anthropological point of view. If you want, you can read some introductions to Anthropology, and if you like it, you can read hard-core books about it. Whatever you decide to do, detach yourself a bit, and observe.
How do you talk to other geeks? Do you use the same words always? How do you identify as just a geek, a bookish geek, a gamer, a cosplayer? What geeky activities do you usually do? When? How?
Who wants to rebel with me!?