The battle lines of geek supremacy have long been drawn: Apple and Steve Jobs versus Microsoft and Bill Gates; Star Wars versus Star Trek; Marvel Comics and Spider-Man versus DC Comics and Superman; Betamax versus VHS; Twitter versus Facebook.
You’ve no doubt spent some time debating these rivalries with your friends, and you will never get those hours back. Perhaps it started as a good-natured debate and turned into a door-slamming, friendship-ending argument. These matters may be trivial to some, but to others, these moments really matter.
Our very identities can be tied to the supremacy of our chosen positions. Like a favorite passage in the Bible, or a referee’s questionable basketball call, if a Star Wars fan can get even the slightest concession out of a Trekkie, it’s a huge personal victory. The fact that J.J. Abrams is now the director of record for both the Star Trek and the Star Wars franchises is seen by some as a crossing of the streams–Armageddon time! Or at least until we move to arguing over which franchise he did a better job on.
There’s really no end to what can get your partisan fervor going, and that’s part of what makes being a geek so rewarding. Awesome sci-fi movies. Magical technology. Scientific breakthroughs. Every day there’s something else. And it’s not just what’s new. Go back a year, or five, or 20, or 100, and there is always one more thing that gets you and your friends revved up.
Which got us thinking–as we argued about whether Oculus Rift or Magic Leap was the better virtual reality tech–what is the greatest geek moment in modern history? Is it the debut of George Lucas’s original Star Wars in 1977? The launch of the Apple I in 1975? Alan Turing’s cracking of the Germans’ Enigma machine, which helped win World War II?
We need your help to figure it out.
Let’s be clear. When we use the word “geek” we’re using one catch-all word to encompass everything from science to science fiction, pure technology to entertainment. And the same goes for “moment.” It could be an invention, a movie, an event, a brand, even a clock that tells time really slowly. If you can sum it up in a sentence or less, it counts.
Why does this really matter? What value can be gained by choosing a singular moment from among so many great moments? We’ll be “valuing great ideas no matter where they come from, valuing intelligence and fairness over strength and tradition,” argued Austin Grossman, the author of the best-selling superhero novel Soon I Will be Invincible. “A lot of us became nerds because we loved things unironically, and that created a community that was radically inclusive. You could be weird, you could be different, you could be shy, and you still belonged. Picking [the] greatest moment is kind of about the soul of geekdom.”
So let’s go find our souls. Tell us which moments you think are the best and then vote as we narrow down a list of 32 great geek moments to one singular winner.
The voting begins next week. Every day, you’ll have the opportunity to pick from a number of moment against moment matchups. Every day, too, we’ll present you with a debate between super geeks about why one moment is better than another. It might be a Star Wars fanatic versus the CEO of the world’s most important design software company. Or a geek-culture blogger versus the guy who heads up the development of information technologies at DARPA. Whoever’s debating, it’s going to be intense.
Every day, voters will cut the list of surviving moments in half until there’s just one left standing. And on Sunday, March 15, we’ll announce the winner, here, and simultaneously on stage at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.
Until then, though, we want you fiercely debating this with your friends and coworkers. We want to read your arguments for one moment, or another, or those that didn’t make the cut, here, and on social media. We could guess what will win, but we want to be surprised when you give a favorite an early exit. Ultimately, we want to crown a winner that outlasted 31 big-time contenders, not to mention all the other amazing moments that didn’t even qualify for a vote.
So please give us your suggestion in the box above. Or ping us via Twitter using #geekmoment. Keep it (very) short. Maybe it’ll make the list, but if not, even as you can feel yourself getting fired up about it, know that it got beat out by something very, very cool. Historically cool. Perhaps, in fact, the very greatest geek moment in history.