FoRKers in techsploitation

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From: Rohit Khare (
Date: Thu Dec 28 2000 - 13:53:12 PST

Actually, every week I've been here in the Valley, Metro has carried
Newitz' coverage of one FoRKer or another. The last two are worth
reading in full. Hi Manoj!

> Sure, there were DJs (including the ravishing Laura, spouse of
>Collabnet CTO and Apache poster boy Brian), and chocolate delicacies
>to eat, and the crucial free drinks.... I even got to bond with the
>dashing engineer Manoj, who confessed that he would rather not code
>for users, or clients, or even for hardware. "Actually, I think I
>should just be pure energy," he proclaimed grandly. "Then I could
>code from within the pattern buffer of a transporter device." My
>kind of geek.

Not a media whore,


What geeks want

by annalee newitz

AN INORDINATELY LARGE number of people seem fascinated by how geeks
mate. Maybe it's because people who work with computers have often
been stereotyped as virginal perverts, and nothing intrigues us more
than an erotic paradox. Or possibly it's because high-tech work seems
so otherworldly that it's hard to reconcile the idea of heated
eroticism with giant rooms full of chilled servers. Whatever the
reason for our interest, there's a mini-industry (online and off)
devoted to geek dating, geek love, and of course, geek sex.

Canadian Web site (home of techie cartoonists
Nitrozac and Snaggy) offers "geek erotica" films - gloved hands
fondle disk slots and power buttons, then get truly kinky with
hard-drive bays and ethernet connections. Other sites, such as
Nerdslut ( and, offer tips for the lovelorn geek and the geeklorn
lover. Nerd Slut even runs polls on eternal questions like, "Are
smart girls better in bed?"

Of course, ever since Bill Gates become one of the richest bastards
on the planet, geeks have been invested with the seductiveness that
comes with social and economic power. A whole service sector has
sprung up around the idea that geek men are an untapped financial
resource for the women who are willing to cater to their sexual and
emotional needs. The irrepressible Caity MacPherson's porn site Juicy
Mango is home to a now infamous series of pictures featuring nude
models posing next to tech company signs. The idea, said MacPherson,
is to pique geeks' interest - and get them to pony up some cash - by
drilling down into their deepest, nerdiest desires.

Massage therapist-cum-fashion consultant Christie McClelland recently
launched the nefarious Geek Boy Services, where she promises that
dorky boys willing to spend 700 bucks on clothes (and 300 bucks on
her "services") can learn to dress for chick-scoring success. The
idea behind her site is clear: geeky boys have got cash muscle now,
so it's time for them to learn how to attract the kinds of
superficial, image-conscious girls they've seen on TV.

But is this what geeks really want? Mike Mesnick, the brains behind
Techdirt, doesn't think so. He launched a geek-driven parody of
McClelland's site called Geek Girl Services, which promises to help
women become geekier by taking them shopping at computer superstore
Fry's and teaching them how to install the Linux operating system. "I
thought [McClelland's site] was lame, and it's scary that people are
going to pay this woman $1,000," Mesnick said.

Interestingly, Mesnick has become a kind of cause célèbre among
women. The vast majority of the e-mail he has received in response to
his parody site "is actually from females, most of whom were offended
by the original site and felt the need to apologize to me for it or
to apologize generally for all the women who are trying to change

And Mesnick isn't the only one who has responded scornfully to the
idea that geeks need to shed their technoculture in order to be
attractive. About nine months ago, a group of bored sysadmins at were so disgusted by the show Who Wants to Marry a
Millionaire? that they slapped together a Web site called Who Wants
to Marry a Sysadmin? ( Chuck Sumner, who
currently runs the site, helped put together the vital stats on some
sysadmin "bachelors" and "bachelorettes," who happily report their
favorite UNIX commands, editors, and - most importantly - the output
of "uname -a". New bachelors can add their pictures to the site if
they correctly answer a series of questions about system

"We got so many responses and pictures that we had a wall of photos
at Spinner," said Sumner, who ended up going out on dates with a
couple of his correspondents. "I don't have any plans for the future
of the site," he laughs, "Although maybe I could add a sysadmin
webcam - that would be sooooo exciting. It could be all images of
computers computing."

For the geekishly sexual and proud, there are also some babes at, a parody porn site that features images of sysadmins
licking and caressing a huge Sun server, along with some "bondage"
pictures of people tied to server racks with cables.

What sites like these prove is that geeks are already sexual, thank
you very much, and they have an attitude about it, too. So what do
geeks want? According to Jed Dobson, one of the eligible bachelors at
Who Wants to Marry a Sysadmin?, it's simple: "A cute honey who can
cuddle up to the sounds of disks spinning."

Annalee Newitz ( is a surly media nerd
who likes to talk dirty about Java objects. Her column also appears
in Metro, Silicon Valley's weekly newspaper



by annalee newitz

I TOOK A break from thinking about unionizing dot-coms this week -
but don't worry, I'll get back to it. This was one of those weeks
where I wanted to take a break from everything, including having a
brain that's reality-compatible.

I feel like I'm surrounded by free-floating economic anxiety. Part of
this, no doubt, is coming from the fact that I'm obsessively reading
about Bay Area electricity shortages, Internet industry layoffs, and
the early stages of union-busting at But part of it is
because I'm not just reading about it. Many of my friends have been
laid off from their dot-com jobs, or been demoted, or had their
salaries slashed. People who would have turned up their noses at a
50K annual income last year are now scrabbling to get less than that
by contracting, freelancing, and hustling.

Meanwhile, Charles and I managed to work ourselves up into a paranoid
froth over our nonexistent retirement funds. I have a grand total of
500 bucks in my IRA, which I just opened last year. Charles reported
that he puts a trivial amount of cash into his retirement account per
year. But both of us have friends - still shakily employed in various
dot-com jobs - who pack more than $1,500 per month into their
company's lucrative 401(k) plans. People in their early 20s are
already planning their retirement, but Charles and I (both born in
the fine year 1969) are planning our lives with the idea that we'll
never be able to retire.

We realized that we would probably be retiring into poverty if we
stopped working. "Think about it," I said darkly, "we won't have any
social security or Medicare. We're writers, and we haven't really
made enough money to save up for a nice house or health care. We'll
be living in a fucking trailer in Montana." Charles began speculating
about the environment: "And we'll have skimmed off the ozone layer,
and the planet will be getting hotter, and everyone will be
cancer-ridden." I finished up for him: "And since we'll have no
health care, and we'll be old, we'll be the ones full of cancer who
have to keep working until we die."

Charles started making plans for how we'd begin saving money, stop
going out to dinner, put more cash into our IRAs. And I shrugged off
his suggestions - for a utopian, I can be pretty fatalistic. I have
hope for the distant future, but not the immediate one. I guess I get
that from watching too much Star Trek, where the 21st and 22nd
centuries are represented as a postapocalyptic Middle Ages, complete
with witch hunts and impoverished peasants and crazed monarchs.

Needless to say, I was in a pretty foul mood when Ed invited me to
the Collabnet holiday party at San Francisco's swanky new bobo bar,
Sno Drift. What the hell, I thought to myself. Maybe I'd never be
able to retire, but at least I'd have high-tech company parties to
keep me drunk in the meantime. Besides, Collabnet is one of those
groovy new open-source companies whose exploits I'd been following
(and writing about) in the news. They're fighting the good fight,
bringing Linux to places like Sun, a corporate giant famous for its
investment in proprietary software.

After Ed had fussed over his outfit for what seemed to be a 24-hour
period - he finally decided on a fuzzy red skirt and patent leather
corset - he and Jesse and I headed out to schmooze and booze with the
open-source geeks. "Will there be engineers there?" I asked Ed
fretfully, fearing a party full of marketing types whose jobs I
couldn't fathom. "I think so," Ed responded unhelpfully.

As soon as we walked in the door, it was clear that Collabnet doesn't
just represent the future of software production. It also represents
the future of Internet companies generally, with their "corrected"
expectations about the economic future in the wake of the Nasdaq dip
and V.C. pullout. Unlike one of those notorious, psychotically
expensive dot-com parties packed with servants bearing champagne or
shucking mounds of raw oysters onto tubs of ice, this dot-net shindig
looked like your standard-issue office party. Sure, there were DJs
(including the ravishing Laura, spouse of Collabnet CTO and Apache
poster boy Brian), and chocolate delicacies to eat, and the crucial
free drinks. But it wasn't opulent by any means.

It felt like a genuine San Francisco party, not some kind of
Hollywood re-creation of Caligula's Rome. Even Last Gasp honcho Ron
Turner came with his lovely retinue, promptly charming everyone into
not asking how he'd found out about the party. And Susie was there,
talking to a cute boy named Dan, who revealed to me later that he
owns the URL I even got to bond with the dashing engineer
Manoj, who confessed that he would rather not code for users, or
clients, or even for hardware. "Actually, I think I should just be
pure energy," he proclaimed grandly. "Then I could code from within
the pattern buffer of a transporter device." My kind of geek.

As we left the party, I allowed myself to wonder, hopefully, if
someday things might be normal again - no more economic bubbles and
real estate bubbles, accompanied by endless layoffs and evictions.
Then I went to bed, and dreamed all night about spaceships.

Annalee Newitz ( is a surly media nerd
who agrees with Paul that writers never retire. Her column also
appears in Metro, San Jose's weekly newspaper.

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