Has it really been five years? Yeah it really has. hard to believe that five years ago today I launched this site and the journey that has come along with it. Ups, downs, and a whole lot of in between. Geek World Order has become so much more than I thought it would ever be and somehow it can be so much more. I have now been at this for the time span of the Enterprise’s original deep space mission. Allow me to relive that journey so far really explain what this milestone means to me.
2010 was a whole different time. I had been in the convention scene for a few years but had not really delved into the nerd world like I was about to. I had recently been introduced to a band called Sci-Fried and they had released an album called “Geeks Unite”. The album featured songs about all sorts of geek franchises and the band lived (and still do) by that mantra of geeky unity and coming together. By that summer I was introduced to an event called Nerdaplaooza. It was a nerd themed gathering of music artists from various genres that all had the same kind of comradery. I was hooked. I can still remember some of the conversations I had with Dr Vern of Sci-Fried and how those conversations really expanded my mind and really gave me a newfound sense of nerdom and it made really want to explore it more. I was a big nerd already, but never really knew much about the community of nerdom at large. By the end of that weekend, I had already come up with the central idea of the site and the name Geek World Order. Yes, it was a bit of a nod to the wrestling group New World Order, but it wasn’t going to be so chaotic (although the con scene is a bit chaotic in a wholly addictive way)
The initial plan was to post some news, some locally created content and of course the photos I was starting to take of the many events I was going to. The site was set up and I got to work. A few months later, life would rear its ugly head in unforseen ways. In the early part of 2011, I ended up leaving a job I had that was not great. It was a semi hasty choice, but I left before I could be fired. This was a very dark time in my life. I was very depressed and most people who knew me at the time could attest that it was ugly. I still had faith I would weather the storm, but an unexpected bonus was the time I had to work on the site. It gave me something to distract myself from the stress and helped me keep my sanity. It’s really why the site is as strong as it is. I really want to see it succeed after being there for me as a refuge when all i had was my faith, some close friends, and family. I met some amazing people during that time and some of them are the dearest supporters of this site I have.
Several things came together during 2012. I got a bit of confidence as the site was making strides and gaining a following. The summer of 2012 saw me attend my first events as a member of the press. Nerdapalooza, the site of the brainstorm that became Geek World Order, ended up being the next step of the site evolution. They were actually the first event to give me the reply email saying that I had been approved for a press badge that year. The first event I actually attended as press was Star Wars Celebration, just a few mere weeks before Nerdapalooza. I leaned a lot that year in terms of networking and figuring out the right steps to get where i want to be. I still have a much to learn, but things really started taking off at that point.
There would still be plenty to experience over the next few years and one of the more interesting years had to be 2014. One of my prouder moments was during the early part of the year. In January, I went with a friend to Daytona to watch the NASCAR preseason testing. I ended up making a lot of comparisons to conventions and shortly thereafter wrote a blog post about it. It managed to get a lot of attention. It even got linked to from Jayski, a major NASCAR news site. It was so amazing to see two of my major interests (nerdiness and NASCAR) come together like that.
Another first for me was at MegaCon that year. MegaCon was my first convention I ever attended back in 2005. It was also an interesting weekend as I got some major photo experience. I ended going to a costume photo shoot for GI Joe costumers. It was my first organized shoot as both a shooter and a costumer. I went in costume as Shipwreck. It’s the only costume I do right now as it’s hard to do press and be in costume. I have always loved the character and loved hearing my dad talk about when he was in the Navy. So there is a lot of personal significance to me when I wear that costume. I have even managed to tweak the costume to have a good amount of my gear on hand so I’m getting better at balancing things during a con weekend.
The site was what really launched my obsession with photography. It wasn’t what started it, but it made growth possible. My first good camera with adjustable settings was a high end Kodak point and shooter with a manual mode I originally bought to take photos at the race track. I had always thought photography was cool and really got the bug from watching the track photographer. This seemed like a rock star thing to me. Capturing cool moments and being right in the action. That quickly stretched over to the convention scene. I had always taken pictures when I went to cons, but now I wanted to take good pictures. The rest they can say is history. Cons and geek music shows are the reason I got a DSLR and have worked to much to hone the craft of photography. There have been many photographers I have looked up to on the convention scene. One of the most influential to me was Jeff Douglas. He is one of the main photographers in the nerd music scene and has been the lead shooter for Nerdaplooza, Orlando Nerd Fest and other great events. His was a name I had heard a lot as my skills developed especially when people made comparisons. I am glad to call Jeff a friend now and have learned from him. At one point I even said I wanted to be Jeff Douglas good. Now I realize I am that good.
And of course, keeping with the Nerdapalooza theme, i would be remiss if I did not talk about Orlando Nerd Fest, which rose to fill the nerd music void that the closure of Nerdapalooza left behind. Last year’s first event was the first that I had ever been asked to be on convention staff. It was a bit of validation for the work i had put in. I was teaming with some awesome talent and my name was uttered in the same breath as names I had come to admire in the photo scene. It was a thrill to be on the front line and photograph a living legend such as Nobuo Uematsu. I felt like a rockstar that weekend.
I am so thrilled that this year’s Nerd Fest is so close to the site’s anniversary. It should definitely be a great weekend with a lot of awesome nerdy brethren. I hope something goes off creatively. I have some ideas I am working on and am always on the lookout for awesome nerd created talent to display on the site. I still have goals to accomplish and am going to refocus on crossing those marks off the GWO bucket list. GWO will still be the place where geeks unite. New things to experience, new places to go (I would still love to go to con out of state) and whole new journey still await. I can not thank the friends and fellow nerds who have made the site what it is. I have to thank Slacker & The Man crew, Joe Convoy (my Hashtag Heel cohost and Critical Botch host), Bert, Shawn, and all the others who have allowed me to repost their awesome content to bring that content to the masses.
This year has been a memorable one to say the least. i have been to more events already than any other year in the site’s existence. Luckily, I have had a regular job since 2012 and have made several advancements to help earn money to live this nerdy lifestyle. I have a lofty goal for number of events but I love the challenge of it and finding different events to go to to make it more memorable experience. Thank you to all who have been a part of the journey and here’s to the next five years and many more beyond that.
Randy Pence, Geek World Order