It was the shot heard 'round the nerd world: Patton Oswalt published an essay in Wired about how geek culture has died:
In Japan, the word otaku refers to people who have obsessive, minute interests—especially stuff like anime or videogames. It comes from a term for “someone else’s house”—otaku live in their own, enclosed worlds. Or, at least, their lives follow patterns that are well outside the norm. Looking back, we were American otakus...Fast-forward to now: Boba Fett’s helmet emblazoned on sleeveless T-shirts worn by gym douches hefting dumbbells. The Glee kids performing the songs from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band that took its name from a Monty Python riff, joining the permanent soundtrack of a night out at Bennigan’s. Our below-the-topsoil passions have been rudely dug up and displayed in the noonday sun. The Lord of the Rings used to be ours and only ours simply because of the sheer goddamn thickness of the books. Twenty years later, the entire cast and crew would be trooping onstage at the Oscars to collect their statuettes, and replicas of the One Ring would be sold as bling.
The topsoil has been scraped away, forever, in 2010. In fact, it’s been dug up, thrown into the air, and allowed to rain down and coat everyone in a thin gray-brown mist called the Internet.
Not to fall prey to nostalgia or anything, but part of the reason I used to like nerd culture was the veil of privacy that obscured nerd-stuff from the mainstream. Before the internet, doing nerdy things was like sex: Something you did away from prying eyes, shared only with people you trusted, and didn't talk about in mixed company. I can't help but feel that, now that I live in a world where people can loudly discuss The West Coast Avengers at a bar without any trace of shame, some significant amount of my nerdy enjoyment has been lost.