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Confronting The SF Chronicle: A Reasoned Response To An Unreasonable Review

We’ve got pretty thick skin here at Mediaite, and faced some critics when we launched back in July. We welcomed it, really, and we continue to do so (Jeff Jarvis has a standing invitation to come on Office Hours).

But there was a particularly ridiculous review of our new site, Geekosystem, that needs to be addressed.

First, some background. Geekosystem launched January 25, and serves to “unite all the tribes of geekdom under one common banner. There’s a lot of overlap between the different families of geekery.” The response has been mostly positive, and yes, jumping to this defense feels a little like defending my super smart and witty little brother in the school cafeteria.

But here is the review by Zennie Abraham, a blogger at SFGate.com (as part of the unedited “City Brights” blog) and video-blogger at his own site. His review was so far-fetched and absurd I thought about leaving it alone – but SFGate.com is the online outlet of the San Francisco Chronicle. And the level of offensiveness deserves a response.

Here’s how he begins his review:

This young, black, bald, geek blogger was totally underwhelmed by Geekosystem because it seems to reflect what Geek culture looks like from a young, white, frat boy perspective. (Not that Dan Abrams is such a person). Not the term “Geek” wasn’t used to describe that view. Geekosystem, to the extent such a thing really exists – and it does – contains blacks, whites, Asians, Latinos and Latinas, Indians, and a large number of people of color.

Ok, let’s break this down. Apparently posts about who the new Batman villain will be, Homeland Security monitoring blogs during the Olympics, the origins of Chatroulette or “heart-shaped things” (all posts on the front page) are aimed at the “young, white, frat boy” crowd. This of course, is absurd. I wouldn’t exactly classify myself a geek, but I’d imagine the geek community isn’t as segregated as Abraham makes it out to be. If Geekosystem is somehow a Caucasian-interest site, what would BlackGeekosystem.com look like?

It’s an odd argument to make, and a head-scratching decision to insert race and gender into the picture. It’s offensive to the creators of the site, to its readership, and frankly, to frat boys. Here’s more:

The Geekosystem also contains a large number of women that aren’t represented in Dan Abrams’ version of The Geekosystem.

Aren’t represented? Did Abraham not bother glancing at who writes the posts? Robert Quigley is the managing editor, while editorial intern Susana Polo writes nearly 50% of the content as well. Or, say, today, when guest columnist Cindy Au wrote “What is it about Movies Called Avatar and Race?” The claim that women “aren’t represented” would be laughable if, again, it weren’t so offensive.

Abraham closes with:

It’s the in the “oft-overlooked personalities” that Dan Abrams new venture fails. More often than not, the “oft-overlooked personalities” are geeks who women and people of color. A token mention does not solve the problem; a total Geekosystem overhaul is necessary.

Well we won’t be overhauling anything. And some will have legitimate complaints about Geekosystem in the weeks and months ahead. But this review introduces a storyline of race that is totally unwarranted and unfounded. It actually serves to undermine Abraham’s entire argument. In the absence of any examples of how the content is “white, frat boy” or what would be the opposite of that, we’re left with the obvious conclusion that it is 100% false. Instead, it propagates a strange theory that geek culture is separate for those of different races, different genders.

And we shouldn’t just let it slide.

> Update: Abraham has written this response, and posted this video response:


Just like his original post, there are no specifics, or examples, anywhere.

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