Speaking With Geek Out’s Monica Valentinelli

Geek Culture

Speak Out With Your Geek Out logoSpeak Out With Your Geek Out logoAs Jonathan Liu posted earlier, this week is Speak Out With Your Geek Out, a blog-based event that encourages geeks of all stripes to tell what they’re geeky about and why. It’s meant as a celebration of all things geek, and I asked the event’s founder, Monica Valentinelli, why this and why now?

GeekDad: What’s Speak Out with Your Geek Out all about?

Monica Valentinelli: Speak Out with Your Geek Out is an online event designed to thwart stereotypes through empowering ourselves and each other. Often, people feel embarrassed about their hobbies and vocations just because they’re so heavily invested in something that others just don’t get. Bloggers and social media enthusiasts are speaking up and sharing their enthusiasm for their hobbies and vocations in a positive way to share, listen, mentor, learn and be tolerant. The community has attracted a broad spectrum of participants: parents and kids, hobbyists and professionals, friends and strangers. Some are speaking up for the very first time. Others are taking what they normally share and writing about it in a positive way.

GD: What inspired you to start this?

MV: Not too long ago, there was an internet gaffe on Gizmodo where a writer attacked Jon Finkel for not revealing he was the World Champion of Magic: the Gathering. The post was negative but the response was also extraordinarily negative. (Worse, the article may have been written to incite people to click through to the link.) Sadly, there’s always another attack right around the corner to induce nerd rage or simply be a jerk. I wanted to find out if there was a way for us to stop reacting and fight fire with smiles and laughter. To show the best parts of ourselves and set aside our differences to highlight how we do all have one thing in common: our enthusiasm for what we love to do.

GD: What’s the response been like?

MV: Overwhelming. Within hours a date was set and we had a tagline dubbed by Angeli Pidcock. Then we had a logo designed by A.J. Freemont. Then came the Facebook event that Amanda Yahner Valentine and Jessica Banks have helped me to wrangle and moderate. Then a Tumblr page and a website. Then? A theme song! Marion Call gave us permission to use this song (“I’ll Still Be a Geek After Nobody Thinks It’s Chic”) to rally the troops.

Now? Over 2,000 participants and counting. People from every walk of life are talking about what they love and more than a few have offered ways to promote and encourage tolerance. There’s even been discussions about how the community needs to address geek elitism, edition wars, etc. The responses have been really cool to watch and people are taking this offline, too.

GD: How can people join in?

MV: All you have to do is blog about your favorite hobbies or interests. Go to the website at SpeakOutWithYourGeekout.com and explore the posts. There’s lots of information and enthusiasm to be had. People are posting their entries in the comments below. The Facebook Event is up too, and the official Twitter hashtag is #speakgeek. Lots of people chatting and connecting already. So hop right in!

GD: Might this become an annual thing?

MV: Everyone has been asking me what happens next. At the very least? This will definitely be an annual event. People are excited and enthusiastic and willing to be a part of a happy, positive experience and I’m thrilled my crazy idea took off — especially if it means more smiley faces.

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