GeekOut

This is what happens when CNN lets the nerds report

Wouldn't it be great if news stories about fan conventions, comic books, video games, computing and science weren't dumbed down and didn't treat the people involved like asthmatic basement-dwellers?

What if those news stories were able to communicate why nerds get so excited about "Star Wars," Hayao Miyazaki and Curt Schilling? What if we weren't turned into a commodity in the process?

It'd be a breath of fresh air for a nerd!

It's hard to ignore how major news companies are jumping on the geek bandwagon - reporting stories on comic books, sci-fi shows and gaming in an effort to expand their readership to the geek market.

It's a natural reaction, in my industry, to the fact that geeks and nerds are the trendsetting users of the internet medium. For a news company, having an audience full of intelligent, well-connected, evangelical people like nerds is like hitting the jackpot. I totally understand why journalists are doing this.

But as a nerd, I have to wonder, is all this geek reporting really geeky? Is something nerdy just by virtue of being about a comic book or a video game?

The answer is "yes and no." Traditionally, journalists have not seen pop culture stories as serious news. By and large, nerdy interests and pursuits are not about life and death and they certainly wouldn't bump a story about the president off the main page. But because of a number of mechanisms that have recently changed our society - including the internet, affordable technology, the boom of cable TV  - these topics are far more important than they used to be.

They matter to a public that is increasingly less inclined to hide the fact that they are nerds. Being into technology is no longer a reason to be socially shunned. It's OK to show off your love of Tolkein because the "Lord of the Rings" movies won a zillion Oscars. People who don't need them are suddenly wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Even Doctor Who will tell you, "bowties are cool!"

And yet, as our interests are mainstreamed, we want just a little bit more depth. So much attention on the topics we love can easily verge into mockery. Where's the context in geek news?

That's what Geek Out! is offering. We will report on nerdy topics and the nerd community, focusing on why these things matter in today's world. What matters to nerds is worth reporting, and the Geek Out! team intends to investigate this culture from all angles.

We'll take deep dives into specific subcultures. We'll find out what gadgets, gizmos and thingees are making people go "squee!" We'll ask upper echelon nerds how their work is changing the world and we'll ask every day superfans to share their expertise with us.

We'll do it through five different focuses:

I invite you to join us for some really nerdy stories. Let us know if you think we get it right or wrong - because we're ready to geek out with you.