After Hours

Thanksgeeking 2011: 12 things geeks can be thankful for this year

A dozen or so events, items, and ideas from 2011 for which the geek-o-sphere should give thanks.

Every year, the press trots out stories of geekdom triumphant, and nerd culture as the breakout media meme. So what specific victories can the dork legions celebrate this year? We've got a dozen candidates below.

  1. Game of Thrones
    HBO took a wildly popular, dense, mature, and unfinished book series by George R. R. Martin and gave 10 hours of R-rated television just to its first novel. A low-fantasy swords and intrigue novel. That (spoiler) kills its most recognizable and famous characters. And it worked. We should be grateful not just of Game of Thrones's success, but that any network was willing to roll the dice on it in the first place.
  2. Google+
    Say what you will about Google's long-awaited Facebook-killer, but we should all be happy that there's at least a growing level of healthy competition in the social networking space. Especially since Google+ is still sufficiently geek-centric enough that my mom will never have an account there. Hallelujah.
  3. Fringe
    It's a TV show about parallel dimensions that's accessible to a mainstream audience. Oh, and it's surviving in the Friday Night Death Slot. You could have gotten better odds on Apple selling out to Microsoft than Fringe becoming a media darling and commercial success. Winning!
  4. The sub-$80 Kindle
    I don't really care about the new Kindle's features or whether Amazon is taking a huge loss just to smother its competitors. The ebook market is growing, and ebook devices are perched to go mainstream. Let's all give thanks for another front in the war for digitization of open content.
  5. The Avengers
    This film doesn't hit theaters until next year, but much of 2011 (and 2010, and 2009...) was spent setting up arguably the most ambitious nerd-cinema experiment in history: A true superhero team-up film based on standalone superhero franchises. It's a meta-franchise. Be thankful that geek audiences are considered bankable enough to even try this. The fact that Joss Whedon is directing Robert Downey Jr. is just icing on the cake. Boo-yah!
  6. Batman: Arkham City
    Pretty much every geek kid spends some portion of his or her childhood wanting to be Batman. The Arkham City game environment gets you about as close as possible to the experience (finally), and it offers story and character design better than almost anything the actual Batman comics are putting out right now. Excelsior!
  7. Android vs. iOS
    Does anybody remember how awful mobile phones were before 2007? Or the days when there was only one iPhone, on one network, linking to one app store? Now almost every mobile carrier offers some version of every topline handset, and the Google-Apple throwdown is putting the next best thing to a Tricorder/Hitchhiker's Guide hybrid in everybody's hands -- for cheap. Thanks be to Jobs.
  8. Jonathan Coulton (& Friends)
    Once upon a time, your only choices for nerd music were Weird Al and Dr. Demento. Today, the geek musical standard is proudly hoisted aloft by JoCo with assists from Marian Call, Paul & Storm, John Anealio, MC Frontalot, and -- still -- Weird Al. It's the golden age of nerdcore, and we should all sing its praises (probably to the tune of "Skullcrusher Mountain").
  9. The Walking Dead
    A basic-cable zombie TV series based on an indie comic riffing off old George Romero films -- and it's got Emmy cred. At this point, it's geek media that's apparently unkillable.
  10. The iPad 2
    The iPad lineup may drive PC power-users up a wall, but it's pretty much the Star Trek PADD we've been wanting for 20 years. Every time a Trek device gets made into a real-life gadget, an angel gets its wings -- and we get one step closer to teleporters and warp drive. All hail St. Roddenberry.
  11. Star Wars: The Old Republic
    As Arkham City is to Batman comics, SW:TOR is (hopefully) to contemporary Star Wars movies. Only it's an MMO. Seriously, Bioware should be selling rehab vouchers with every copy of the game. May the Force be with you.
  12. The Muppets
    They're making another Muppets movie. I think the point of gratitude here speaks for itself.

So, what geek events, products, and progress are you thankful for this season, and/or which gratitude of ours do you think is off base? We'd be grateful if you'd tell us in the comments section.

Note: TV.com, CNET, GameSpot, and TechRepublic are CBS Interactive brands.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

17 comments
gandhawk
gandhawk

although some people might feel the digital enhancements hurt the the movies, I welcome them and the picture and sound quality is superb

P.F. Bruns
P.F. Bruns

Although I implore you to listen to the music in #8.

jonrosen
jonrosen

I just don't really care about any of the list. The only close one is #7, Android vs iPhone... Game of Thrones.. while I loved George R.R. Martin's 'Wild Cards' books, never liked this series. And I don't have HBO, so it doesn't really matter. I could easily go down the list and 'debunk' most of them. But just like trying to group-up any bunch of stereotypical people, it just falls flat. Just like this list does, for this geek.

Ptorq
Ptorq

Excelsior! is rallying cry for the Friends of Ol' Marvel. Batman is a DC character.

dlauer
dlauer

Hey, Don't forget about DualCoreMusic dot com. He's great!

tyler.poland
tyler.poland

4G Pushed me over the edge into getting a data plan on my smartphone with the ability to tether. The higher speeds along with the access to information pretty much whenever I need it has changed the way I do things. It may not be on your list but it is on mine.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And calling someone was as simple as pushing buttons with numbers on them in a specific order. Those were the days...

vjv.mabaso
vjv.mabaso

The Avengers WOW!!! But wouldn't it have been a killer if "The Dark Knight" was there (Batman and Ironman are by far, the best superheroes ever)... The Avengers should be number 1 on that list. Superman Sucks!!!! (just a footnote...)

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...here: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/geekend/geek-gifts-2011-star-wars-the-complete-saga-blu-ray-collection/8197 Completists need it, purists don't, and the rest of us could use it on a case by case basis. I'm not a Blu-ray fetishist so my existing DVD copies are just fine (the effects don't break down nearly so much). Of course, I'm not a fan of viewing many "classic" sci-fi films on Blu-ray, as the effects just weren't shot for that definition. I get caught up in how bad the costumes and sets and CGI are, which detracts from the experience.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...I was taking a shot at the DCnU 52 reboot.

Jaasonehundred
Jaasonehundred

And they had cords, and were plugged into walls! (Not just for charging) You actually had to memorize like a whole catalog of phone numbers, and/or carry a card in your wallet with names and numbers.

calistra
calistra

remember when they had dials? And computers had lights and toggle switches? And paper tape - don't forget the paper tape.....

Animal13
Animal13

I still carry that card in my wallet. I've come to depend on my smartphone so much that I no longer remember any phone numbers. If I ever lost my phone, I would be looking for white pages for a ride home. (Not that they would do any good since everyone now has a mobile number that is not in the phone book...) ;^)

LilaWagner
LilaWagner

What paper tape?? What about cards???

jfuller05
jfuller05

John Byrne Superman fanboy. :)

vjv.mabaso
vjv.mabaso

What pleasure do you get from admiring an unbeatable force... no1 can relate to superman, his too fictional. After watching a superman movie, you cant leave the cinema "being in the zone" - but that i mean : Ever watch a fictional movie and find yourself tryna impersonate the characters state of mind and his beliefs - thats what makes these movies so fun! But the Man of Steel... ahh no, u cant

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