back to article History shows why geeks will never, ever, ever... get along

You know that geeks tend to atomise into warring camps, exchanging flames, tweets and worse. But did you know that real live academics have studied this phenomenon? Well we did, which is why Brian Alleyne of Goldsmiths, University of London joined us recently to explain how geek and hacker culture tends to fracture into techno …

  1. Len Goddard

    It's just another religion.

    Fights between tribal groups of techs, be it linux v. Windows v. MacOS, linux desktops, best way to indent C code or whatever, are often described as religious wars. You can see exactly the same schisms in major religions as you see in tech-babble arguments.

    Irrational tribalism seems to be written into our genes, either by evolution or the Intelligent Creator(s).

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: It's just another religion.

      You're wrong.

      1. GBE

        Re: It's just another religion.

        > You're wrong.

        That isn't an argument, it's just contradiction!

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: It's just another religion.

          No it isn't.

  2. DagD

    Simply Put...

    Sheeple. Those darned sheeple.


    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Simply Put...

      Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeese don't use that word, it gives me hives these days.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I'm not a geek!

    Please! Nowadays 'geeks' are just techno-consumers, they do not have a clue how the shiny thingies they buy work.

    No, I'm not a geek. I'm a nerd ^^

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: I'm not a geek!

      No, I'm not a geek. I'm a nerd ^^

      Perhaps they'll hear you

      Geek's Nerd's Guide to Britain

  4. druck Silver badge


    If you want to see real techno-tribalism, just look up some of the pre-web usenet flame wars (BEWARE: not for snowflakes).

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Usenet

      Them's were the wasn't a proper flame unless it actually provoked real flames coming out of your ears.

    2. Mike 16

      Re: Usenet

      Depended on the group. Most of comp.* was remarkably flame-free, with exceptions like comp.lang.c until comp.lang.c++ siphoned off most of the foamites. I'll admit that the war of the cancelbots (one of which nearly shut down a main transatlantic link) and the newsgroup creation wars (Seriously, folks, comp.lang.intercal was OK but comp.lang.cobol was beyond the pale?) were flame-ish, but nothing like soc.* and some neighborhoods of alt.* Much like the physical world. Know your neighborhoods.

  5. jelabarre59


    Along the same lines (SF fandom overlaps quite a lot with computers/tech). There's a saying in the science fiction community:

    "If two science fiction fans meet, they'll start a SF club. Then they'll look for a third member so that they can have a schism and form *two* SF clubs."

    1. frank ly

      Re: Clubs


  6. WilliamBurke

    constructive antagony

    Despite the foaming at the mouth of some of the more ardent supporters of one side or the other, the old wars (vi/emacs, Fortran/Pascal, C/C++) actually drove innovation on both sides. The anger always comes out of a hidden envy: Dang, they ARE better than us in this respect. We better do something about it!

    Where it goes awry is when this healthy "look over your shoulder, they are catching up" turns into an outright inferiority complex. That's what happened when every Linux desktop tried to copy every single folly of Windows, and hid the command line away as far as possible, because it might frighten the poor dumb user.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: constructive antagony

      But it failed to account that the average user IS poor and dumb, and this needs to be taken into consideration.

    2. David Glasgow

      Re: constructive antagony

      Even then, even there, nobody said "dang".

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: constructive antagony

        Although I'm fairly sure I heard a 'dagnammit' or two.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computers Much More Than Microcomputers and Unixoids

    The microcomputer and Unix world actually made a lot of mistakes and "inventions" which already existed/were solved in the mainframe worlds of IBM, Unisys, ICL and MCST/IPMCE.

    Unfortunately many programmers and software engineers (there is some difference in these terms, strictly speaking) think that C is the pinnacle of languages. For most of them, Unix is also the canonical model of an OS.

    This would be an arcane issue if corporations such as Maersk, Sony, the SWIFT system and several banks in Ukraine had not been cyber-blitzed. This happened because for the last 30 years there was a great craze towards the adoption of rather substandard systems like Windows and the various Unixes.

    The world of Algol mainframes at least is much more reliable, because they use something like the Java VM even for the operating system. A single buffer overflow will not open the kingdom to the vandals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Computers Much More Than Microcomputers and Unixoids

      Given the number of Java exploits are out there, including sandbox escapes, I'd be rather concerned, actually.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Java Exploits "

        Most of the "Java" exploits are due to quick-and-dirty implementations of support software such as "Java Web Start".

        ArrayOutOfBoundsException and NullPointerException has saved many many systems from being exploited by criminals the "C Way".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't We All Just Get Along?

    I've noticed the same behavior in academia.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon