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Geekstream: Welcome to Geekstream. Population: everyone

Nolan Peterson

For those who caught my column in the Weekend section the other week, I apologize, I should have introduced myself:

My name is Nolan, and I’m a geek.

As far as this space — the one between the first word and the last period — is concerned, I feel like there should be some ground rules.

I like the structure of rules. I like the fact that rules can give form to the formless, bones to the blob and foundations to build upon.

With the rapid expansion of the News Tribune’s content offering, there seems to be territory unclaimed.

So what are the rules?

I don’t know them all, but let’s stake some out, just to see what we’re working with.

Will this column occasionally involve science topics?

Yes, but from the viewpoint of a fan, not a professor.

Are you going to show boring slides of cell division whilst droning on in a monotone voice like some 1957 high school biology film?


Heck, no.

So why is it called “Geekstream”?

It started out as the name of my blog, which deals with a lot of geekery. Content that isn’t necessarily part of the mainstream offerings, but is part of a smaller stream: a Geekstream.

So what makes a person a “geek”?

I’m glad you asked. Take the red pill, and let’s go.

Geek, as a label, has changed quite a bit during its lifetime. While some might still equate the word with socially inept freaks, the Internet has helped shoehorn geeks into a more-acceptable subculture. And that’s how most people see it: a subculture.

But if I were pressed to give a firm definition of what determines a geek, I would say they’re simply the curious.

Geeks are people who obsess over the minutia of the object or objects of their fascination. Their curiosity drives them to plumb the depths of their subject until they find themselves so fully engaged in the details that they forget to remember that it’s just a curiosity.

For me, as I was growing up, it was “X-Men,” “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and reading various science fiction authors.

But if you think the geeky rabbit hole ends with just the science-y, flight-of-fancy stuff, you’re in for a ride. I geek out over all of those things, but I’ve added “Doctor Who,” fountain pens, military history, soccer, horticulture and writing.

Anyone can be a geek nowadays. An informal poll of my friends and coworkers has identified that everyone, yes, everyone was a geek for something or another.

I’ll use initials to protect anonymity:

J.M. is a self-described antiquities geek. He has an insatiable curiosity for Greco-Roman history and the evolution of Christianity.

M.L. is an uber-geek for movies. Not just movies, but quirky, independent films that follow the oddball and might not exactly have happy endings.

J.N. tears through World War II history and Mountain Dew.

T.G. wants nothing more than to live in a world where the highest priority is given to silent reading time, and has even taken the time to cast a theoretical “Dark Tower” series.

J.B. loves professional wrestling so much, he would burst out in catch phrases in the middle of meetings.

The point is, we all love the things we love. And when we love them enough to learn more about them than what is on the surface, when we dig down deep and find the rules and structures that give our fascinations form and function, we become geeks.

So that’s what this column will contain. Those things we care enough about to peel back the layers on.

And that is beautiful.

Nolan Peterson can be reached at or (218) 723-5396; read his blog at