You Forgot This Exists, and So Did I

Immediately after Labor Day weekend (PAX West) 2019, I moved to a new apartment just down the street. As soon as I got settled in, Halloween, the 14th anniversary of GeekNights, was upon us. Before I could finish chewing my Swedish Fish, Rym embarked on a long business trip that ran right up through the Thanksgiving holiday. We've only recorded three episodes in the month of November, and PAX Unplugged begins tomorrow. MAGFest, PAX South, and even PAX East are already visible on the horizon.

Why is now the time to revive the GeekNights newsletter? Because I need to. Despite being so busy, I've had a lot of time to think. There's a lot of meta stuff inside my mind that I have to get out, even if it crashes in the woods and makes no sound. Not only are we approaching GeekNights 15th year, but also a new decade. For better or worse, a new era of human society is upon us. GeekNights must also change with the times. I plan to use this space to build context, so the change doesn't happen in a vacuum.

I was originally planning to do this via YouTube, but it didn't feel like the right fit. Who wants to watch a video of my face while I go on a lengthy diatribe? I have to give a huge thanks to whoever it was that showed up in my feeds with a reminder that TinyLetter exists. I'm sorry I neglected this newsletter. I can't promise it won't ever be forgotten again, but I guarantee this isn't going to be the last one.

I have a list of things I need to cover, and I originally thought to just lay them all down in one email. As I started typing, I realized I'm better off splitting things up. Hope you like getting a lot of newsletters after almost three years without getting any. Feel free to unsubscribe at any time.

Remember, please send in your comments or questions by writing a normal email reply to this newsletter. That's right. Just hit the reply button in your email client, write something, push send, and I'll see it.

The Origin of GeekNights

For anyone who hasn't already heard this story, I'm going to lay it out here for the sake of posterity.

At the venerable institution of RIT, we were somewhat prominent nerds on campus. There was a very large anime club, (100+ average attendance at weekly meetings), and our friend group ran it*. We would even go to conventions and run panels about anime clubs. I even surprise myself when I remember that we've been doing panels at conventions longer than we've been podcasting. The key takeaway is that we had lots of opportunities to stand in front of rooms full of people and feel important.

In addition, our nerdy friends often let us know how much they liked listening to Rym and I talk to/at each other. There was sort of a game we would play to prevent each other from sleeping. We (usually me) would just say dumber and dumber things until the other person (usually Rym) couldn't let it slide. The victim would have to stop trying to fall asleep and put up an argument. I clearly recall one incident where a friend sleeping on the couch in the living room moved to the floor in our bedroom just because they wanted to listen. This phenomenon was commonly known as "Pillow Talk with Rym & Scott," and it was almost the name of the podcast.

After graduation, it was all gone. We were spending long hours working and commuting. No weekly anime club meetings. No friends every night for tabletop gaming. We rarely saw anyone besides each other. Things were so bad we had an actual Netflix DVD plan. Streaming Netflix didn't exist at the time. We watched several entire TV series, sometimes with commentary. We could talk to each other all we wanted, but the audience had vanished overnight.

I had actually created a single podcast episode a few years earlier. It was just an mp3 (or wav?) I uploaded to my web server and linked to from a blog post. At that time, I didn't know the word podcast. When I later learned the word, I didn't grok it. That all changed in September 2005 when the iPod nano was released, and podcasts were officially added to iTunes.

I upgraded from iPod mini to nano on release day, and got hooked on several podcasts. I had two long train rides every day, so it was a godsend. Days later when I went to Rym and suggested we should make our own podcast, he required absolutely no convincing whatsoever. I thought of the name GeekNights. It seemed too boring and obvious, but I was very surprised that it didn't seem to be in use by anyone on the web. It was ours now!

This was truly a perfect storm. Two white dudes in our early twenties, with tons of time on our hands, and big mouths. I had computer skills to make things like RSS feeds work. Rym had audio engineering skills to make quality recordings. We had honed our public speaking skills at conventions. We had a whole life time of nerdy knowledge and stories to retell to fresh ears. On top of all that, we had the immense privilege of having been able to experience almost everything that geek life had to offer.

How the hell did we keep that ship afloat for 15 years where so many others had failed?

Stay subscribed. Next time: "The Purpose of GeekNights"

* A fun game we like to play is "How many former RIT anime club presidents are here right now?". The number is often shockingly high. Try asking if you see us at a convention sometime.