Philly Geek Awards: “Mysterious” Black Guy is 2014 Geek of the Year

birds

Great eyesight, still geeks. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

By Kenneth Lipp

“The only thing better than a good magic trick…a bad magic trick,” proclaimed Joel Hodgson to a crowd of audibly-agreeing nerddom. The creator of as well as original and by far the best human member of the ensemble in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (we’re sure he’s done other stuff too that’s good which he’d love us to talk about, but he did Mystery Science Theater 3000 so what’s the point?), held-up before the audience in the Academy of Natural Sciences’ auditorium a copy of the Bucks County Intelligencer newspaper, with which he planned to blow some minds before announcing the 2014 Philly Geek Awards Geek of the Year. After sufficiently rending the newsprint into tattered sixteenths, “a product of your imagination,” Hodgson assured the crowd (as he scattered torn bits, “fragments of your imagination”), he unfolded a whole and unmarred edition as if from thin air. The understated prestige was met with howls of delight from the crowd, the most attention paid to a Philly-area print daily in years.

Joel Hodgson demonstrates how to boot up a newspaper. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Joel Hodgson demonstrates how to boot up a newspaper. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Winners in 13 categories plus a Geek of the Year were read mostly from iPhones. A few selections:

Scientist of the Year, an awesome title, is  Genevieve Dion. She’s a professor of fashion design at Drexel University, and among other things works with automated weaving technology that bears analogy to 3-D printing.

Genevieve Dion, Professor of Fashion Design, Scientist of the Year

Genevieve Dion, Professor of Fashion Design, 2014 Scientist of the Year

Erin Bernard, whose Philly History Truck took home Best IRL Project honors. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Erin Bernard, whose Philly History Truck took home Best IRL Project honors. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Erin Bernard lauded a whole community’s contributions to the Philly History Truck, winner of the year’s best IRL Project, which had help from a neighborhood association president who lent his truck to help get the program started.

Funeral for a Home, Event of the Year, was featured by The Declaration’s Joshua Albert in May, when the Mantua home was eulogized and demolished. The block-party sacrament was a tribute to the spirit of the neighborhood that the century-old home represented, said project creators Steven and Billy Dufala.

The community prepares for dinner after the funeral. Photo by Joshua Albert

The community prepares for dinner after the funeral. Photo by Joshua Albert

And the Winner –

“I’m a black geek, and a lot of that is mysterious to the media. You get what I’m saying?”* said Jason Richardson, Geek of the Year, to a rapt audience that included the cast of his podcast the Black Tribbles, and his wife and mother (we snapped some photos of the bunch before the ceremony). While in my experience a nerdy black guy is nothing new – at my school the black kids looked like they were dressed by wardrobe for the Cosby Show and if anything were the most studious of my peers – the white-boy’s club status of the tech industry is evident in the numbers and being ever more challenged by marginalized innovators.

Richardson, whose projects include JI-CON, Philadelphia’s anime convention, and Cosplay Prom, Philadelphia’s Cosplay prom, lamented the lack of opportunity for black youth to involve themselves in technology, as well as the sacrifice of cultural identity that the geek community often requires of its outsiders for admission into clique 2.o.

*an earlier publication of this article quoted Richardson as having said “I’m a black geek, to a lot of white people that’s a very mysterious thing” and has been corrected

“A lot of kids that do get involved, they lose their color,” said Richardson.

Geek of the Year Jason Richardson. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Geek of the Year Jason Richardson. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

For a full list of this year’s winners, check out Newsworks’ post, and enjoy the following photos from Saturday’s red carpet and ceremony.

Momma and Mrs. Geek of the Year, with the Black Tribbles looking gorgeous in the back row. Photo by Kenneth Lipp, who tried over and over to get this picture right and gave up.

Momma and Mrs. Geek of the Year, with the Black Tribbles looking gorgeous in the back row. Photo by Kenneth Lipp, who tried over and over to get this picture right and gave up.

Ollie the goose. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Ollie the goose. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

Love this guy

@PresBabeLincoln, left -batman tie, right. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

@PresBabeLincoln on the left -batman tie on the right. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

DSC_0038 DSC_0012

Advertisements

About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

There is one comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s