Monday, May 4, 2015

May the Fourth...

... be with You!

What self-respecting Geek can pass up a pun like that? It's a great day to celebrate our love for Star Wars.

On Friday, the Twitter weekly #SciFiChat discussed Geeky holidays. It wasn't until the end of the chat that I realized it was on account of this Punny holiday.

Being a geek, I've put quite a few on my blogging calendar, intending to mark them. As I started journaling about a taxonomy of Geek holidays this morning, I realized that while several (Pi Day, Yuri's Night, Star Wars Day) have become popular and well-known around the internet, many "holidays" are more personal.

Similar to the GeekFeminism page, I take a broad view of what interests make a "Geek":

  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy books, movies, music.
  • Comic Books
  • Video Games
My thoughts are influenced by this Slate Magazine article: Science Needs a New Ritual, which suggests that we should acknowledge the harm that science has done, as well as the good. 

In Space Exploration, NASA has instituted a Day of Remembrance at the end of January, in order to acknowledge those who have paid the price in our reach for space, and remind us to be mindful in our work. For myself... I usually spend the week in thought.

One of the reasons that these calendars become personalized, is because there are so many different fields of Science, so many different disciplines of Engineering, and breadth to Technology and Mathematics as well. Some historical figures have cross-discipline relevance, others are very focused on specific topics.

Because of my interest in space, my own personal "Geek" calendar is developing to include key aspects of space history, which includes astronomy, astrophysics, a broad range of engineering, and spaceflight events. One key resource for that is the annual Year In Space calendar (their wall calendar is also available on Amazon).

As I think about what matters to me, I am also thinking about the efforts to decolonize and diversify STEM. One aspect of those efforts is to highlight the historical people who have made a difference in the world, but whose names are left out of the science and history textbooks. Like Cecilia Payne-Gospochkin, who discovered that the stars are made up of mostly hydrogen and helium.

The Geek Feminism blog had a series of Geek women on Wednesdays, but that seems to have paused. Bloggers like myself try to commemorate women on Ada Lovelace Day, however the date isn't constant from year to year.

For women in STEM, this forgetting of women's names has been called the Matilda Effect. I have reason to believe it also occurs to people of color, as part of the white-washing of history. We need the stories of women like Katherine Johnson, not out of some "political correctness gone wrong," but because they are real, historical people who made a difference in the world.

And then there are the pop culture holidays. One year I bought a Star Trek Calendar, and it included birthdays for many of the actors and people involved with the series. Any number of themed calendars (Star WarsTolkien, etc.) can help. That's another avenue for personalizing one's own Geeky calendar, connecting dates to the characters and stories that one likes. Anyone for July 2nd to celebrate Skye's birthday?

What days do you celebrate? Are they based on historical events? Pun / dates like Pi Day and Star Wars Day? Convention or other circuit calendars? Pop culture dates, based on one or more media?

[Update 12:20 pm] Just in time, @Fem2pt0 shared this link to a LitHub excerpt from HEADSTRONG: 52 WOMEN WHO CHANGED SCIENCE AND THE WORLD.