06 Oct

Establish Geek Cred – Read Science Fiction

There is blight upon our land.  Honest, hard-working, I.T. professionals are growing up with their creativity stunted.  Their bright eyes should flash in the pale glow of indicators, basking in technology for technology’s sake; but instead, the young eyes are made dim with sadness being denied resources essential to their success and happiness.

Image Credit:  Sails of Tau Ceti by Don Dixon – www.cosmographica.com


Who is doing this, you demand?  Who could be so cruel to these innocent knowledge workers?

  • Hollywood
  • Professors
  • School Teachers
  • Cool Kids

Whomever it is that codifies our beloved Sci-Fi into a rigid set of strictures.  The ones who close it into a box and back it into a corner!  Those few who examine it under a literary microscope; seeking to judge merit and define it–making molds into which only a select few works can ever fit.  They are those who prevent the creation of new universes, but instead drivel out endless revisions of the well-known.

A pox upon these self-made arbiters meting out only small-measures of the life-blood of imagination.

And now, an entire generation of technology professionals believes that science fiction is fully encompassed by I-am-your-father, warp factors, and friendly-neighborhoods.  These works are excellent specimens, but remain hardly a grain of sand on a vast beach.  The results are horrendous.Would-be well-adjusted technologists have never been introduced to the genre that should have been their first love!  They have been spoon-fed content and told that it was good.

And they were told that it was all.

As youths, they did not know the joy of entering into a half-price bookstore.  They’ve never known the anguish of deciding which paperbacks could be sacrificed for ‘store credit’ and which were too dear for parting.  They have never experienced the pride and excitement of leaving the used book store with an armload of novels. Unknown is the sweet anxiety brought about as some are selected at random in the hopes of finding a new favorite. But even beyond a chance new favorite, in ecstasy that perhaps this sampling was only one in a trilogy, or even a series.

No, the scent of an aged and dog-eared paper back is not ambrosia to their senses.Hand-painted cover art offers no feast to their eyes.

It is to these unfortunate urchins that I pledge my support.

I hereby declare that no technician, developer, nor engineer will go into the field unprepared and without knowledge of their deep science fiction heritage. I will take a stand against the force-fed pabulum and help the denizens of the technology industry return to their former glory. My work will be mentoring others by the loan of books and not expecting fast return. I shall maintain a “required” reading list, if even mentally, and be ready at an instant with a recommendation. When possible, my time will be given to sponsor field-trips with my local geek troop to a local used book store. At every opportunity, I will selflessly help new members of the information technology workforce establish geek credibility of their own. I will do this for the betterment of all information systems and to maintain the rich history of my craft.

I, the undersigned, do take upon myself the role and responsibilities of the science fiction mentor.

Joseph Baxter, 09/30/2008

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