History shows why geeks will never, ever, ever... get along

Schismogenesis? Isn’t that a posh word for Flame War?


Register Lecture You know that geeks tend to atomise into warring camps, exchanging flames, tweets and worse. But did you know that real live academics have studied this phenomenon?

Well we did, which is why Brian Alleyne of Goldsmiths, University of London joined us recently to explain how geek and hacker culture tends to fracture into techno-tribalism. There’s even a word for this evolution of minor disagreements into all out flame wars - schismogenesis.

Just as importantly, Brian discussed how this has shaped our understanding of the tech history, for better or worse. For example, are the roots of tech really epitomised in the Gates v Jobs v/& Wozniak rivalry? Or is that narrative down to techno-tribalism allied to a particularly American, individualist view of history?

This all made for a fascinating evening that also encompassed the British and Italian computer industries (remember them), the open source wars, and during the Q/A, one Reg hack’s ruminations on how so much of pre-web computer industry history is largely lost to us.

Brian’s research will all be finding its way into a book due next year. But you can watch the lecture right here. What you can’t see is the Q/A, or the gripping conversations that arise when a group of Reg readers get together in a pub to share ideas, as well as drink.

But don’t worry, we’re putting the finishing touches to next year’s lecture programme, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get live and direct with The Register, and some of the brightest minds in tech. We look forward to seeing you there.

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