Student-run geek culture blog unifies community

Student-run geek culture blog unifies community

Student-run geek culture blog unifies community
March 27
01:31 2014

Matt Wood // Staff Writer

For the college-aged Pokémon or Star Trek fan, finding like-minded individuals can be daunting. But UNT’s GeeKon effort seeks to create a home for all areas of geek culture.

The GeeKon Record is a geek-culture blog run by Eric Johnson, a higher education master’s student and Honors Hall director. The blog aims to be an outlet for UNT students who want to share their “geeky” passions, he said.

“Just because you’re in college it doesn’t mean you have to stop liking Pokémon,” he said. “You don’t have to feel ashamed or feel like you’re being mocked.”

Johnson said a significant goal of the blog is to remove the stigma associated with being a geek and to create communities for various geek interests.

“Just because maybe they got picked on in high school, they can feel embarrassed for the things they like,” Johnson said. “We want to stop that and encourage people to be proud of what they geek out about.”

Building the Blog

The momentum and interest in the annual UNT GeeKon event sparked the idea for Johnson and other hall directors to channel the project into a blog in fall 2013. They initially wrote the content themselves, but students quickly picked up on it and began writing articles about their specific interests.

“Once folks started to know they could provide content, our staff wrote fewer and fewer articles since the students were doing such an amazing job,” Frier said.

Beyond building interest in GeeKon events, Johnson said the key goal of the blog was to reach out to people who may not know about the UNT events related to their interests.

“They might have a connection back home, but they didn’t know we have the “League of Pokémon Trainers” on campus,” he said.

Johnson also said the blog expands past the traditional “geekdoms” such as comic books and video games by creating sections for music and fashion.

During the GeeKon event, Johnson said the blog would average 1,000 views a day, but it usually tapered off after GeeKon ended to about 40 or 50 views.

All writers and editors volunteer their free time to the blog and the site is not run for profit, but as a social resource.

The GeeKon Movement

The blog is a component of the bigger GeeKon effort throughout campus, which was founded by Eugene Frier, associate director of residence life, in November 2012.

Frier brought the idea back to UNT after attending a conference about “geek identity” on college campuses. He, along with Johnson and other housing directors, formed the annual, week-long GeeKon event held every March.

“We believe that everyone is a geek about something,” Frier said.

This year’s event featured an anime convention, a comic book conference and a performance by pop-culture rapper Adam WarRock. The event has grown in size over the years and GeeKon now hosts several events each semester.

“It has kind of morphed into a movement on our campus,” Johnson said. “It’s not just a week of programming.”

The writers

The GeeKon Record’s 15 contributors cultivate the different sections of the blog with their own ideas and passions. Johnson said as long as someone has the interest, he grants the writers freedom to cover what they want.

“If they want to write about something, are passionate and have the time to write, let’s do it,” Johnson said.

Writers contribute one to four articles per month, depending on individual schedules. By having each writer cover one specific area, Johnson endeavors to cover as many different interests as possible.

Nathan Storck writes for his own music section, “On the Decks,” where he shares new music releases. Storck has been writing once a month for the blog since September and is looking to start an accompanying podcast.

Johnson worked with Storck in residence halls and Johnson recruited Storck after hearing he had worked on a previous geek culture blog that didn’t take off.

Though he acknowledges music is not a traditionally “geeky” subject, he said it’s more about being enthralled by a specific interest.

“You expect video games or movies or something,” Storck said. “But it’s in line with The GeeKon Record because we define geek as someone who’s really enthusiastic about something.”

Working with Johnson, Storck said he has felt free to write about whatever he wants and said they work well together.

“Eric is a champion of a human being,” Storck said. “He’s flexible and he has always been accepting of unconventional ideas people want to contribute.”

By creating the GeeKon initiative, Storck said that housing has fulfilled one of its most important roles: building a community.

“If you have a sense of camaraderie, students are more involved,” Storck said. “I think that’s part of why the reception to GeeKon has been so strong,”

Storck said he has found writing for The GeeKon Record to be rewarding as he aims to produce more content.

“It’s great to have an outlet to share music I’m really excited about,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to let people share their passions.”

For more information about the GeeKon Record, visit http://thegeekonrecord.wordpress.com/.

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