G33koskop is about the cultural and artistic practices of authentic internet culture, as well as the history of technical culture in this region. Such practices occupy the space between technical innovation and the construction of infrastructure, between new-media art, theoretical reflection on the media, and social activism.
These are characterized by artistic and activist projects that often establish important infrastructures that public administrations and the market have failed to provide, and by the emergence of communities of enthusiasts that continue the tradition of avant-garde artistic and political movements. Projects and communities such as Wikipedia – the largest collaboratively written encyclopaedia in history, Aaaaarg.org – a collaborative research forum of critical theory, OpenStreetMaps – the largest free location database (world map) collected by a group of enthusiasts, Wikileaks – the largest world platform for the anonymous publication of documents on corruption, Free Software Movement, The Pirate Bay, Anonymous, Lulzsec, and others.
On geek culture
The relationship between information and communication technologies and culture, understood as a series of mostly social, i.e. humanistic symbolic practices, is one of the most interesting subjects among the current theoretical interpretations of the modern world. The accelerated evolution of technology permeates all spheres of contemporary culture: from aesthetics and art through the specific issues related to the positions of power and access to (information and cultural) resources, to the issues of authorship, originality, and integrity of work and/or its author.
The most common interpretation of the relationship between technology and culture is an attempt to estimate to what extent something given has been transformed in its encounter with something new (as a consequence of technological development). It happens very rarely that the subject of such considerations is culture that has emerged in direct interaction with the new, in this case with the development of digital communication technologies. It happens even more rarely that people whose lifestyle has been shaped by the new digital communication technologies are in the focus of reflection. These people have become known as geeks, a term coined in the US in the second half of the 20th century.
The meaning and connotations of the term “geek” has been radically transformed in the past decades: in the early days of computer technologies, it was primarily used to denote a person (mostly an adolescent) who was completely devoted to the new technologies and therefore (according to the stereotype) had underdeveloped social skills, and was viewed by the society as a “misfit”, a bizarre and marginal individual.
As the new technologies were increasingly adopted by the society, knowledge that the geeks possessed was becoming more sought for and more acceptable. With time, geek culture was recognized and its representatives are now considered as highly evolved and progressive members of the society at large.
The myth about the self-sufficient supergeek with an extraordinary IQ and highly developed skills could develop owing to the economic boom in the field of PC production, in which young people could become staggeringly rich in a very short period of time. The myth involves a period of frustrations that these individuals experienced in their adolescence because of being rejected by the society and their later (symbolic) revenge, embodied in their exceptional wealth and their ascent on the social ladder.
The impact of geek culture on popular culture in the past twenty years has been immense: cyberpunk, online games, computer animation, internet collaborations, science fiction, conspiracy theories, cranky humour, bizarre hobbies, and collecting craze are only some of the fields in which geek culture has exerted this impact. In its own, characteristic way, geek culture has re-actualized and appropriated many different subcultural legacies, such as the counterculture, the hippie movement, punk, etc.
Danish theoretician Lars Konzack has called geek culture “the third counterculture,” as the counterculture of the 1960s and the yuppie counterculture of the 1980s were followed by a third important counterculture of youngsters closely related to computer technologies (Lars Konzack, “Geek culture, The 3rd Counter-Culture,” presented June 26-28, 2006 at FNG2006 conference in Preston, UK).
Geek culture is obsessed with knowledge and information, and aesthetically it often reaches for marginal, bizarre, tasteless, and radical phenomena, which do not fit into the mainstream culture.
Like everything else that relates to the new technologies, geek culture is primarily a cultural narrative determined by the North-American context. Eastern Europe, on the other hand –including the Croatian culture with its socialist legacy – gives a special stamp to geek culture through its disappointment with the universal power of knowledge and social progress. Moreover, the socialist culture of technical education, present in technological associations, amateur photo and film clubs, and other similar institutions, provides a specific context to the evolution of geek culture in Croatia.
The probably most relevant branch of geek culture is the hacker culture and the Free Software Movement. The culture of giving and the selflessly sharing of information, the open code principle, and the tested and successful models of collaboration known from the world of free software have served as an inspiration and a model for wider circles of the society. A movement modelled upon the free software movement is the Free Culture Movement, which has formed around the initiative of alternative approach to copyright (Creative Commons).
Coordinator of G33koskop is Marcell Mars.