Book Talk: Geeks are the new chic, says author Garth Sundem
By Belinda Goldsmith
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Move aside, good looking. Geeks are the new chic, according to self-proclaimed geek Garth Sundem who has just released his second book about geekiness.
Sundem, a math whiz and English professor, had written over 20 educational books before turning to a subject he knew well -- geekiness -- with a growing number of geeks proudly going public as their idols, who include Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs, rose to the top.
"I am extremely geeky and I am painfully self-aware of it," Sundem told Reuters. "I was always in the math club and the chess club and the jazz band."
Sundem's latest book, "The Geek's Guide to World Domination: Be Afraid, Beautiful People," compiles 314.15 facts -- which is a decimal computation for pi -- in a compendium of usable and totally useless bits of information that geeks would relish.
These nuggets range from five useful phrases in Klingon and how to make chain-mail armor, to strategies for sudoku and how to program a Universal Remote Control.
This followed on from Sundem's first geek book, "Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life," that used algebra to take the guesswork out of life.
Sundem, who lives with his wife and two children in California, spoke to Reuters about life as a geek author:
Q: Were you always a geek?
A: "Yes. I think it was in my genes. My father was president of the American Accountancy Association and my mother had a PhD in psychotherapy. What chance did I have?"
Q: But geeks are now cool, you argue?
A: "Yes. Geeks used to be defined by what they couldn't do but they are now defined by what they can do. A geek is someone who is so passionate about something that it pushes to the side their ability to function socially. Sure, techies and science geeks are the classics but I know beer-making geeks, fantasy football geeks, all sorts of geeks."
Q: Is it easier being a geek now?
A: "I think it is because geeks now can connect, they are online and have support groups and they find they are not alone. Culturally we've gotten geekier. It's an information age. Even the cool kids are on Facebook which should be geeky but it's not! Look at Hollywood: in movies back in the 1980s like National Lampoon we would laugh at the geeks. Now we laugh with them."
Q: When did the change happen?
A: "I felt like I woke up and geeks were cool. I think that geek empowerment was brought by the Internet where geeks could unite and rise up as one. What really has happened is that the world has come to depend on information and geeks control the information."
Q: What was your favorite factoid for the book?
A: "That's hard. I had the chance to brainstorm whatever I thought rocked like the WWE stars of the 1980s and cool parasitic adventure and really cool scientific factoids like the mathematics of church bell ringing. What I hoped to do was expand the breadth of geekery. We happen to be passionate about all this information."
Q: Any more geek books in the pipeline?
A: "I have one called "Brain Candy" and it will be everything cool about the mind. I am in my writing cave now and when I am not, I'm hanging out with my two children and my Labrador."
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)