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.
- 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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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").
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.