Friday, March 5, 2010

52 Weeks. 52 Geeks. One Challenge.

I'm always up for a good challenge.

Wait, I take that back. No I'm not. I'm frightfully scared of challenges. I want things to come easy to me. Always. And when they don't I freak out.

What I will say is that I am up always for THE PURSUIT OF A challenge.

So, I was at lunch with my friend and colleague, Laura, the other day. Laura is a very intense, focused person, and I mean that in the best way possible. At one point during our lunch meeting, I mentioned to her that I had felt that I was beginning to get unfocused creatively. So she offered to “find my focus”.

Okay, I said.

I told her that I really wanted to do more work for the group that I considered my “creative wheelhouse” which is geeks. I don’t view geeks and geek culture as “nerdy” or “weird”. To me, Geek is equivalent to passion. In my opinion, you can be a geek about anything - food or words or music. It doesn’t matter. If you’re passionate about any subject, then, to me, you are a geek.

Very quickly, she said to me, “Then why don’t you do something called Geek A Week.”

“Hm, Sounds good. What would it be?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Just run with it,” she said coyly.

So, after some well-placed phone calls and e-mails to some folk versed in geek culture, I give you my new challenge, Geek A Week. Every week, for the next 52 weeks (that's a year to you and me), I will be trying to make contact with a different prominent figure in the geek culture. After I make contact with them, I will then draw a trading card of them. Geeks love collecting things right? So here's a chance to do a collection like none other. An art-driven collection of interesting figures in the geek world. The ultimate goal? To connect with new people. To do some great art. And to see if I can contribute another notch to the geek culture that I love so much.

With that in mind, here are the basic ground rules of this project:

1. CRITERIA: The Geek of the Week must have some sort of influence on the overall geek culture as a whole whether it be music, film, television, art, literature, gaming, computing etc.

2. I have one week (7 days) to make contact with the Geek of the Week and to create a piece of art for/or them.

3. Contact must be an exchange via e-mail, Twitter or phone. If possible, interview with the geek will be recorded and possibly used for podcast purposes.

4. After the short written or spoken interview, I will create a trading card for each geek, as a commemorative symbol that I have connected with them. These will be posted to my Flickr account for the world to see.

Luckily, through the podcast and through my association with art I've done for others, I have a pretty good start. Here is my short list of influential geeks that should be relatively easy to make contact with in the coming weeks:

John Hodgman
Jonathan Coulton
Mc Frontlot
Paul and Storm
Adam Savage/Jaime Hyneman (Mythbusters)
Felicia Day
Cinematic Titantic
Leo Laporte
Wil Wheaton
Bonnie Burton
Xeni Jardin
Neil Gaiman
John Scalzi
Kevin Smith

Here is a short list of influential geeks that may be a bit more of a challenge to get in touch with:
John and John of They Might Be Giants
Alex Rigopulos (CEO of Harmonix)
Stan Lee
Rainn Wilson
Mark Mothersbaugh
Weird Al Yankovic
Conan O’Brien
John Lasseter
Steve Jobs
Robert Crumb
George Lucas
Wes Anderson
Steve Wozniak
Bill Gates
Tim Burton

People from the comments:
Matt Groening
Alton Brown
Bad Astronomer
Chris Hardwick

Pretty daunting list, I know. I'm hoping that some of the geeks I talk to will be able to recommend others I should talk to. I'm also looking for feedback from you, the reader, as to who might make an interesting trading card/interview. Please keep in mind that based on the criteria, the geek should be relatively well known and not say, your cousin Jay who is "the geekiest person you know." There are plenty of those running around and I need to be selective. I hope you understand.

So that's it! Will I be able to connect with all of them? Maybe. Maybe not. What I have going for me is a pretty good base to start with. What I'm hoping is that I'll be able to use my charm, wit, humorous art and common love of bacon to collect as many as I can. And who knows, maybe I might surprise myself.

I'm hoping to blog this adventure and bring you along for the ride. I'm scared, but it's the pursuit that seems like the most fun. Much like my friend, Jonathan Coulton and his Thing A Week project, I hope this will be an interesting year-long journey that will lead to somewhere near a town called Awesome.

Let's roll.


  1. Hum, how about Veronica Belmont, Olivia Munn and Nathan Fillion.

  2. btw, this is a great idea! Good luck!

  3. Yeah, Veronica. Of course! That should be pretty easy!

  4. Here from a retweet by Jonathan Coulton.

    Grant Imahara from Mythbusters is fairly vocal on Twitter. And for that matter, Craig Ferguson is proving to be quite the geek aficionado. I would also recommend Cory Doctorow and David Hewlett and, maybe difficult, Randall Munroe of xkcd fame.

  5. I love this idea. Might I suggest Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer? Gotta cater to those space geeks, you know! Also he's a super nice guy, I bet he'd be more than happy to participate.

  6. Awesome idea! John Lassater is the man. I'm glad you have him on your list. Also, Joss Whedon? Shouldnt he be on there too? ^_^

    Dont forget theater and food geeks. Chef Duff and his geeky crew on Ace of Cakes would also be a nice addition.

    Good luck!

  7. Speaking of food geeks, how about Alton Brown? King of the food geeks! Or Anthony Bourdain.
    Car geek king - James May.

  8. Jhonen Vasquez of Invader Zim, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Bioshock 2 art fame is quite the geek! He's all over Twitter as @JhonenV. Don't know how shy he is, though.

    Maybe the project will intrigue him. I think it's great!

  9. I'd like to second Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait.

    I'd also recommend going after some food geeks. Alton is a great choice, but I would also look at people like Wylie Dufresne, or guys who are into molecular gastronomy.

    I would also recommend the writers of the Geekdad blog for Wired.

    Few more:

    Seth Godin (marketing)
    Gary Vaynerchuk (wine)
    Kevin Rose (tea)
    Peter Sagal (news)

    Great idea! Looking forward to it.

  10. Thanks for all the comments. Good ideas from everyone!

    Just thought of another person I'd love to track down: Matt Groening.

  11. What about Philip Zimmerman from PGP fame? It's not every geek that gets investigated by the feds for writing encryption software!

  12. Bruce Campbell
    Henry Rollins
    Bill Nye the Science Guy
    Seth Green
    Jonathan Rosenberg (Goats)

  13. This is so awesome,I'll have to follow it!

    Might I also suggest Gabe Newell and Marc Laidlaw of Valve?And I don't know how plausible it is to get a hold of Stephen King,but he seems nerdy.I'd suggest Alan Moore,but the guy's a recluse and a little bit of a jerk in real-life,so you'd have no chance and it might not be worth it.

  14. Warren Ellis! And he's on twitter, so I bet it wouldn't be that difficult :)

  15. Joss Wheedon. Felicia Day should be able to get you the introduction. I'll also second Cory Doctorow, Randall Munroe, and Alton Brown.

    I've always agreed with the general statement that Geekdom isn't synonymous with technology, however that almost makes the term vacuous. In particular, basically all artists are geeks.

  16. Once you've done a couple, it shouldn't be too hard to get in contact with Weird Al via twitter. This seems like something right up his alley!

  17. Sounds like awesome idea! Here's a couple more that I thought of:

    Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman or Eric S. Raymond (Linux/Open Source)
    John C. Dvorak
    Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google)
    Dr. Drew
    Benoît Mandelbrot (Mathematics)

    I wish you the best of luck. Can't wait to see the complete set.

  18. I nominate Molly Lewis and Mike Lombardo for musical Geek a Weeks.

    I will nominate Travis "Spintown" Langworthy, for having the best YouTube Music and Dance blog I've seen. He's got his fingers on the pulse beat of YouTube geek culture.

    Jules Sherred runs an amazing blog called, "Julia Sherred's Geeky Pleasures." She is also a vortex of geekdom.

    And Jackie Kashian has had a podcast for years called "The Dork Forest," that is like a weekly devotional to all things Geek. She's an outstanding stand-up comedian. Worthy of greater notoriety.

    How about Mary Jo Pehl, from MST3K and Cinematic Titanic?

    What about Maria Bamford from the "Comedians of Comedy Tour"?

  19. Forgot to give you a link to Travis Langworthy's Spintown's blog.

    On top of everything else, the Spintown Interviews are illustrated with Flipfaces! He's been a big supporter of yours, Len. If that doesn't say, "GEEK," what does!

  20. Good luck! Here's to hoping you catch 'em all! ;)

  21. Jules Sherred of "Geeky Pleasures" is my suggestion.

  22. I was coming here to see who was on Len's list, and you already have the one person I thought of this past weekend--Alton Brown. That would be bad ass!